Phytocannabinoids consistently confuse scientists because of the multiplicity of their actions. CBD, for example, binds to a handful of neurotransmitter receptors, as well as hormone receptors, ion channels, and a variety of enzymes. Receptors without a known endogenous ligand are called “orphan” receptors.
It’s increasingly recognized that the runner’s high, which used to be attributed to endorphins, is conferred partly by endocannabinoids in the brain. In response to the stress of exercise, the brain produces anandamide, “the bliss chemical” which provides that feeling of elation along with pain reduction and health benefits.
Throughout history, cannabis has been described as a treatment for hundreds of different conditions. If scientists find it hard to believe cannabis can do so much, they may chalk up the results as just a placebo. But the placebo effect is powerful. It accounts for roughly half of the efficacy of opioids and antidepressants.