Early phytocannabinoid chemistry to endocannabinoids and beyond

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2014 Nov;15(11):757-64. doi: 10.1038/nrn3811. Epub 2014 Oct 15.


Isolation and structure elucidation of most of the major cannabinoid constituents--including Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ(9)-THC), which is the principal psychoactive molecule in Cannabis sativa--was achieved in the 1960s and 1970s. It was followed by the identification of two cannabinoid receptors in the 1980s and the early 1990s and by the identification of the endocannabinoids shortly thereafter. There have since been considerable advances in our understanding of the endocannabinoid system and its function in the brain, which reveal potential therapeutic targets for a wide range of brain disorders.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects
  • Endocannabinoids / chemistry*
  • Endocannabinoids / history*
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism
  • Endocannabinoids / pharmacology
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Neuropharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / history
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / history
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / history


  • Endocannabinoids
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2