We’ve all heard about how the cannabinoids in cannabis have some incredibly promising healing properties for a whole variety of illnesses, thanks to their relationship with our endocannabinoid system - but what if you live somewhere that cannabis extracts, whether CBD or THC, can’t be easily accessed? Or, you’re allergic to some terpenes found in cannabis? Or maybe you’re just curious to learn about what other plants can strengthen your endocannabinoid system, and give it an extra boost on top of your regular CBD extracts?
Compiled here is a list of 5 plants (other than cannabis) that also contain beneficial cannabinoids!
The Endocannabinoid System
Cannabinoids found within cannabis interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a system of endogenous receptors that are said to have a mediating role in a number of different conditions such as pain, inflammation, mood, stress, appetite, and even the reproductive system. These findings spurred further exploration into the effects of cannabinoids on both humans and animals, but as cannabis still holds an unfortunate and unfair stigma, many are still hesitant to try products that have been derived from the cannabis plant.
The ECS is one of the most important physiological systems involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids (which are cannabinoids made by the body) and their receptors are found throughout the body; in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells, and are integral to regular bodily functions.
The phytocannabinoids found within plants such as cannabis can be taken to influence the ECS when it is out of balance. It has been suggested that rather than attaching to the cannabinoid receptors found within the body and enacting change, CBD can influence the endocannabinoids already inside your body in order to maintain homeostasis.
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So where can you find cannabinoids naturally, aside from cannabis?
If you are one of the people who want to reap the benefits of a strengthened endocannabinoid system but are hesitant to try any cannabis products, there are a few other natural alternatives out there for you.
Here is a list of just some of the plants that have been shown to positively affect the ECS.
1. Coneflower - Echinacea
The coneflower, or echinacea flower, is probably most well-known in vitamin form. Echinacea has been used for centuries to help boost the immune system when fighting off cold and flu, and has been proven to reduce recuperation time as well.
Not only that, but echinacea has also been found to relieve symptoms of anxiety, fatigue, arthritis, and even migraines. This is because some species of echinacea contain compounds that engage the ECS called cannabimimetics; literally cannabis-mimicking compounds that work as CB1 receptor agonists, which are found predominantly in the nervous system, and are thought to affect, memory, analgesia, and motor functions.
Echinacea is fairly easy to obtain, in both natural and reiterated forms, and can be found at your local pharmacy or chemist.
2. Electric Daisy - Acmella Oleracea
Native to the Amazon, the electric daisy flower can be made into a powerful pain-killing gel, and has been found to work wonders for toothache specifically. Trials conducted at Cambridge University found that acmella oleracea was successful in blocking pain receptors at nerve endings. Story has it that Cambridge University anthropologist Dr Francoise Barbara Freedman experienced the incredible analgesic qualities of this plant while living with a peruvian tribe. She was said to have been experiencing wisdom tooth pain and was given this flower by one of the tribes people, where the discomfort ‘went away immediately’.
Cannabinoid-like compounds known as N-Isobutylamides within the flower act on the CB2 receptor, which are found throughout the immune system and its attendant organs, act as a powerful anti-inflammatory and painkiller. It is so powerful that it is currently being considered as a new drug for dentists working with painful ailments such as impacted wisdom teeth.
3. Liverwort - Radula Marginata
This lichen, indigenous to New Zealand, contains large amounts of perrottetinenic acid (or bibenzyl cannabinoid). This acid is similar to Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a compound found in the cannabis plant that is not psychoactive in nature. Liverwort has been used as a treatment for bronchitis and has been shown to alleviate problems with the gallbladder, liver and bladder.
The fresh liverwort plant is best avoided due to its irritating properties, but it can be applied through infusion or as an extract of its dry, herbal form. Dosage should not exceed 3.8 grams of the dry herb, which is about the equivalent of four teaspoons of a 3-6% infusion.
4. Chocolate - Theobroma Cacao
As the most popular and well-known plant in this list, chocolate contains compounds that interact with the ECS. Chocolate contains compounds very much like the CBD found within cannabis, and is even said to increase the high of THC when taken before smoking cannabis.
Chocolate contains compounds that interact with the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase, or FAAH, which contributes to the breakdown of the endocannabinoid anandamide in the body. This allows an increase in the amount of anandamide in the body, which is responsible for making us feel relaxed, happy and generally uplifted. It is best to ingest chocolate in its most natural form, like cocoa powder and dark chocolate, and to stay away from products that contain lots of sugar and other additives.
5. Black Pepper - Piper Nigrum
Black pepper contains the terpene beta-caryophyllene, which is an aroma molecule found in essential oils from plants. Fairly recently, it was discovered that beta-caryophyllene (BCP) functions just like a cannabinoid, with a binding affinity with the CB2 receptor. Research has suggested that the anti-inflammatory compounds in the terpene beta-caryophyllene make it therapeutically valuable for treating conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and even symptoms of irritable bowel diseases. It has also been suggested that BCP can increase the efficacy of anticancer drugs, though medical trials are in the preliminary stages and therefore inconclusive.
These are just some of the natural products that contain cannabinoid like compounds that can positively influence the ECS. But, as this is a fairly new research subject, with more and more studies coming out with findings that pertain to the healing and therapeutic qualities of different cannabinoids, all we can hope for is loosened laws surrounding the sale and distribution of CBD products.
For now, finding CBD products online, or using natural products like those listed above, can help give you the extra boost that your body needs to maintain homeostasis.