For a lot of folks it’s hard to deny that cannabis buds are beautiful flowers. There’s something about those vibrant green nuggets, tangled in colorful wiry hairs and sprinkled with diamond-dust trichomes, that stimulates the brain’s pleasure center on sight. Beyond the visual appeal, the aroma and flavor of cannabis energize the senses in ways that are both enjoyable and beneficial.

Whether one chooses to smoke it, vape it, or eat it, the effects of the herb will vary depending on the strain. The therapeutic and other sensations experienced after partaking of this healing plant can be spectacular, whether or not we actually understand just how it creates its effects.

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An entire body system—for cannabis molecules

Cannabis research is vitally important because there is still so much to learn about the plant, its biochemistry in relation to our own, and how it can impact health and the practice of medicine on a large scale. Scientists must delve beneath the surface to discover the inner secrets and then explain them in a way that doctors, lawyers, legislators, politicians, the media, and the public will understand and learn from.

Studies on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in human beings have been conducted that allow us to grasp how it relates to and interacts with various cannabis molecules. The ECS is a series of receptors that react to cannabinoids. The CB1 receptor found in the brain can be visualized, for the first time ever, in a high-resolution atomic structure depiction (below) created by a group of scientists at the iHuman Institute of Shanghai Tech University.

Picture this

With the help of a stabilizing molecule (seen in the image as thick orange sticks), the researchers got a close look at the receptor (yellow ribbon-like structures) interacting with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) molecules (thin yellow sticks).

According to the Daily Mail, Professor Raymond Stevens, Founding Director at the iHuman Institute, explains: “With marijuana becoming more popular with legislation in the United States, we need to understand how molecules like THC and the synthetic cannabinoids interact with the receptor, especially since we’re starting to see people show up in emergency rooms when they use synthetic cannabinoids. Researchers are fascinated by how you can make changes in THC or synthetic cannabinoids and have such different effects.”

Beyond the cerebral, THC is known to relieve pain and inflammation, asthma, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI), and insomnia, to name just a few conditions. Whether extracts and synthetics will be the future of THC in medicine, however, is yet to be seen. Physicians emphasizing the importance of the entourage effect—the synergy, or teamwork, among the plant’s molecules—consider it more beneficial to let nature provide the proper balance of cannabinoids, terpenoids and other compounds within our body, without tampering.

Natural, whole-flower cannabis is still extremely popular worldwide, and it works in the body in ways that manmade synthetics can’t match.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Garyn AngelGaryn Angel is an inventor, award-winning financial consultant, and CEO of MagicalButter.com, maker of the botanical extractor he invented for infusing cannabis into foods. Firmly committed to needed legal reform, Angel was named to the exclusive CNBC NEXT LIST of visionary global business leaders for his work on legal marijuana. He is also founder of the Cheers to Goodness Foundation, a charity that helps “medical refugees”—mainly veterans and children—who need herbal therapy when traditional treatment options have failed.