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What Are Phytocannabinoids?

Jul 14th 2021

What Are Phytocannabinoids?

Quality hemp products such as Complete Hemp’s Full-spectrum CBD Oil don’t have to contain a lot of ingredients. In fact, this one contains only two: full-spectrum hemp extract, and organic cold-pressed hemp seed oil. Part of what constitutes hemp extract is phytocannabinoids, and while many labels for CBD products don’t brandish this word alongside terms like “cannabidiol” as an ingredient, they are there. What are phytocannabinoids, and what makes them different than other cannabinoids?

What Are Cannabinoids?

Inside the body of almost every animal lies the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids bind to receptor sites of the endocannabinoid system, stimulating it for a variety of possible effects. The endocannabinoid system has shown evidence to modulate things such as pain, anxiety and stress, pulmonary function, inflammation, metabolism, neuroinflammation (which has strong links to epilepsy), and others. 1,2


If a cannabinoid is produced inside the body, it is referred to as an endocannabinoid, also known as an endogenous cannabinoid. There are currently two endocannabinoids that scientists have discovered: Anandamide (AEA or arachidonoyl ethanolamide) and 2-arachidonoylglyceroll (2-AG). These help with a multitude of bodily functions. There are no known standard levels required for homeostasis as the body produces them as needed. While these two endocannabinoids have been identified, more are believed to exist, yet their roles and functions remain undiscovered.3


Generally speaking, if we are talking about cannabinoids relative to cannabis oils and hemp products, we are talking about phytocannabinoids. “Phyto” means pertaining to plants or plant-based. As the name implies, phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids originating from plants.

Over 100 phytocannabinoids have been discovered in cannabis, THC and CBD most prominently. While phytocannabinoids are prolific in the cannabis plant, they are not exclusive to it. Small amounts of phytocannabinoids have been found in plants such as liverwort and echinacea.3

Although phytocannabinoids originate outside of the body, they still bind at receptor sites of the endocannabinoid system innate to almost all animal life. This interaction is believed to produce the possible hemp benefits from CBD products.


1Silver RJ. The Endocannabinoid System of Animals. Animals (Basel). 2019 Sep 16;9(9):686. doi: 10.3390/ani9090686. PMID: 31527410; PMCID: PMC6770351.

2Cheung KAK, Peiris H, Wallace G, Holland OJ, Mitchell MD. The Interplay between the Endocannabinoid System, Epilepsy and Cannabinoids. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(23):6079. Published 2019 Dec 2. doi:10.3390/ijms20236079