ADD MARIJUANA TO humans, and you get some fairly predictable results: euphoria, hunger, introspection, anxiety, and a whole panoply of other effects. Also known as being high. Most of that complicated reaction is thanks to a single cellular structure known as cannabinoid receptor 1. Your body has CB1 receptors lacing the surfaces of cells in the brain, liver, lungs, fat, uterus, and sperm. And whenever your … friend smokes, dabs, or eats an edible, the tetrahydrocannabinol molecules therein bind to these sites, stimulating the cells to release a cornucopia of chemical signals.
For a long time, scientists thought CB1 receptors worked like lock and key with THC and its chemical cousins—one size fits one. However, new research shows that CB1 receptors are actually quite malleable, stretching to fit a wider range of molecules. That could be useful knowledge as researchers try to synthesize chemicals that mimic the desirable effects of cannabis (such as pain relief) without the side effects (such as anxiety, weight gain, addiction, or federal prosecution).
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