Plants and food affect the body's endocannabinoid system
Herbal remedies have been an integral part of human survival and good health and they continue to be an integral and significant benefit to health and well-being. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that about 80% of people in developing countries rely on traditional, herbal medicines. The use of Cannabis in medicine, religious ceremonies and recreational purposes dates back 5,000 years. Although the treatment of the plant is still mixed, scientists are working hard to gain a technical understanding of the plant’s biochemical and medicinal properties.
Again, a little about what is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?
Between 1930 and 1960, a number of potent chemical compounds called cannabinoids were identified in the Cannabis plant, including delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabidivarin (CBDV), and tetrahydrocannababinine (THCV). Between 1988 and 1992, another important step was taken: the identification of cannabinoid receptors in mammals known as CB1 and CB2. Cannabinoids bind to these receptors in the body. Following the discovery of cannabinoid receptors, it became important to determine whether mammalian tissues themselves also produce substances to activate these receptors, or whether only plant-derived and synthetic cannabinoids target these receptors.
In 1992, the first mammalian cannabinoid, arachidonoylethiolamide, was discovered and named anandamide from “ananda”, the Sanskrit word for “bliss.” Anandamide is synthesized in areas of the brain that are used for memory, motivation, higher thought processes, and movement control. It also plays an important role in reducing pain, appetite, fertility and cancer cells. The cannabinoid protein receptors CB1 and CB2, together with mammalian cannabinoids, form what is now known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
These findings allow the classification of cannabinoids associated with ECS and a better understanding of the types of responses that result from the activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors. There are more than 100 different cannabinoids. Exogenous cannabinoids are produced outside the mammalian body by plants or developed synthetically by chemists. Exogenous cannabinoids include phytocannabinoids derived from plants and include the popular compounds THC and CBD. Endogenous cannabinoids, also known as endocannabinoids, are self-regulated by the body and include anandamides and other N-acyleanolamines (NAEs).
Cannabinoids interact with two protein receptors, CB1 and CB2. These receptors are found throughout the human body. CB1 receptors are more pronounced in the central nervous system, but are found elsewhere throughout the body. The CB1 receptor induces psychoactive reactions from cannabinoids, the best-known being THC. CB2 receptors are found in the nervous system, the immune system, and the gastrointestinal tract. Both receptors are also found in organs, glands, muscle cells, fat cells and immune cells, and are much more numerous than any other receptor system. Researchers believe it may be the third cannabinoid receptor.
Because ECS is involved in and potentially affects the body in many therapeutic ways, researchers are exploring key aspects of the system to treat a wide range of diseases and conditions. Some of the diseases and conditions in focus are mood and anxiety disorders, neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, seizures, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, tumors, cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity / metabolic disorders, glaucoma, reproductive disorders, osteoporosis, etc.
Plants that affect the ECS.
With the growing focus on the use of ECS for medicinal purposes and its potential ability to influence it, researchers have studied a variety of plants that are still able to bind to ECS. Many of these plants are already traditionally used and include: cocoa (Theobroma cacao), black pepper (Piper nigrum), hops (Humulus lupulus), helichrysum (Helichrysum umbraculigerum), electric daisy/spilanthes (Acmella oleracea), coneflower (Echinacea spp.), and liverwort (Radula marginata and perrottetii). These herbs are used as traditional treatments, they are still a huge resource for a large part of the world’s population, and they also have the potential for improved and innovative medicine.
Cocoa. Chocolate has long been known as a mood enhancer, with antioxidant, stimulant and aphrodisiac effects, and was first consumed 2,000 to 4,000 years ago in Mesoamerica. Cocoa is grown in the tropics around the equator, and 70% of the world’s cocoa beans come from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.
Cocoa contains anandamide and other NSAIDs that bind directly to cannabinoid receptors. However, their effects appear to be limited because these compounds do not survive to pass through the digestive system and are usually present in small amounts in chocolate products. Cocoa also contains a fatty acid that indirectly engages the ECS, preventing the breakdown of naturally produced anandamide in the brain.
This indirect mechanism of raising anandamide levels is relatively recognized as having a bodily effect and may contribute to the hedonic properties of chocolate. People around the world are clearly and strongly attracted to cocoa, which contributes to the $ 83.2 billion chocolate industry.
Beta-caryophyllene contained in black pepper, hops, helichrysum and many other plants.
Black pepper, hops, strawberries, oregano, cinnamon, carrots, basil, cloves, lavender and rosemary contain a terpene called beta-caryophyllene, which is one of the richest components of vegetable essential oils. Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds produced by a variety of plants. They often have a strong odor, are responsible for taste and can also serve as a remedy for the plant itself.
Terpene beta-caryophyllene binds selectively to the CB2 receptor and is also found in the Cannabis plant. A 2012 study showed that beta-caryophyllene could be particularly useful in renal dysfunction and inflammation. Beta-caryophyllene is approved as a food additive by the US Food and Drug Administration and is used in cosmetics. While this terpene exists in a wide variety of plants, black pepper, hops and strawberries are the most popular plants.
Black peppers. Their homeland is modern-day Kerala, India, and their use began 2,000 years ago. Pepper is traditionally used in various crops for its medicinal properties, such as antirheumatic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, analgesic and antifungal agents. Black pepper is widely grown in India and elsewhere in the tropics, and Vietnam is the world’s largest pepper producer, supplying 39% of the world’s harvest. The beta-caryophyllene in peppers is intended to reduce inflammation, ease digestion and arthritis.
Pepper also contains the fatty acid guineensine which regulates the intake of endocannabinoids, effectively helping to reduce inflammation and pain. Pepper has historically been considered a luxury commodity that only the very rich can afford, and this has led to the Dutch phrase ‘expensive pepper’ and the Hungarian phrase ‘price of pepper’, which meant the extraordinary value of the product.
Although common peppers are readily available today, their healing properties are still highly respected and are used for traditional conditions and to improve some health conditions.
Like pepper, hops contain beta-caryophyllene, helping as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. The first evidence of hops was found in Egypt, dating back 2,000 years. Hops were first grown in Germany between 700 and 1000 and gained popularity as an ingredient in beer, as they have antibacterial properties that fight less desirable microorganisms and thus improve the taste. Hop beer was also less damaged compared to other herbal infusions, such as dandelion, burdock root, calendula, ivy, etc.
Hops. They prefer a temperate climate, and the United States and Germany are currently its largest growers. Some hop varieties are grown with a high CBD content. CBD has a low binding affinity for cannabinoid receptors, but it delays the reuptake of endocannabinoids such as anandamide and adenosine. In addition, CBD activates serotonin receptors, reducing anxiety, activating receptors that regulate pain perception, and may have anti-cancer effects.
Hops have traditionally been used as a sleep enhancer, used for anxiety, often in the form of tea or tincture, and are known as antioxidants, antivirals and anti-inflammatory agents. Potential pharmaceutical uses of hops include the extension of its traditionally known medicinal properties as a phytoestrogen, an anti-carcinogen, or in the treatment of the symptoms of diabetes.
The yellow-flowered plant – Helichrysum, also contains terpene beta-caryophyllene. The name Helichrysum comes from the Greek words, helios – for the sun and chrysos – for gold, which denote the bright, yellow flowers of this genus. Helichrysum species are widespread, growing in Eurasia, Africa and Australia. The plant is used as a mood stabilizer, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, as well as for healing wounds, infections and psoriasis. The plant contains cannabigerol (CBG), a precursor of Cannabis cannabinoids, THC, CBD and cannabichromene (CBC).
Alkylamides: Spilanthes and Echinacea.
Alkylamides are compounds that are structurally similar to endocannabinoids found in mammals. Alkylamides are the main isolates of the plant, electric daisies, also known as spilanthes, which effectively activate the CB2 receptor.
Spilanthes is a small, flowering plant native to Brazil, growing in a wide variety of temperate environments and is well known for its medicinal applications. Its flowers and leaves have a sharp taste that creates a feeling of tingling or numbness. Spilanthes are also grown as an ornamental plant.
The whole plant can be used for medicinal purposes and contains antibacterial, antimalarial and antifungal properties. Spilanthes are used in a variety of procedures and have a relatively wide range of applications, including toothache, fever, musculoskeletal pain, joint stiffness, inflammation, influenza, cough, tuberculosis, skin diseases as an anesthetic, aids indigestion, and is widely used in beauty care as an anti-wrinkle remedy.
Formal research on the plant by the University of Cambridge found that the plant has successfully blocked pain signals that are sent through nerve endings. The plant contains compounds known as N-acyleanolamines, which act on the CB2 receptor. Surprisingly, early scientific speculation suggests that these compounds may have anti-cancer potential by placing this plant on the long list of powerful medicinal plants.
Alkylamides are also found in plants of the genus Echinacea. Echinacea, as a medicinal plant, is used quite widely today, but its history of use is relatively short. Echinacea dates back to the 1700s, when Native Americans used the plant in North America for wounds, burns, insect bites, toothaches, sore throats, aches and cramps.
Today, extracts are used in herbal medicines for upper respiratory tract infections, indigestion, ADHD, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, chronic pain and urinary tract infections. Alkylamides in echinacea are able to activate the CB2 receptor and improve endocannabinoid transport and degradation.
Echinacea compounds are thought to have potential as anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory agents.
The lesser-known plant, liverwort, is also associated with ECS in various ways. The Maori of New Zealand have been using liverwort for centuries to treat liver pathology and indigestion. Liverwort also grows in Japan and Costa Rica, although it is difficult to cultivate due to its slow growth. Moss is also used to treat bronchitis, inflammation, and problems with the gallbladder and bladder. It contains cannabigerol (CBG and other compounds that all bind to the ECS. Most importantly, some of them have a similar structure and effect to THC in the mammalian brain by activating both CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, their effects are not as strong as THC. In comparison with THC, they have a stronger anti-inflammatory effect than psychoactive, making it more attractive for medical rather than recreational purposes.
α Pinene: anti-inflammatory properties; helps memory; bronchodilators; antibacterial. Also found in pine needles.
β Caryophyllene: analgesic; anti-inflammatory; protects the cells that line the digestive tract. Also found in black pepper.
Limonene: anti-anxiety effect; antidepressant; treats acid reflux. Also found in citrus fruits.
Linalool: analgesic; anesthesia; anti-anxiety; anticonvulsant effect. Also found in lavender.
Myrcene: a sleep aid; muscle relaxant; promotes a strong sedative effect. Also found in hops.
Milk. Although AEA (anandamide) levels are negligible, bovine milk was found to contain 2-AG, an endocannabinoid. Note that pasteurization may damage the integrity of endocannabinoids. 2-AG is also found in breast milk.
Cannabis seeds are rich in various cannabinoids. Cannabis seeds contain about 80 different phytocannabinoids; the most notable are CBD, CBC, CBG, CBN. Hemp seed oil has a beneficial effect on the entire endocannabinoid system.
Broccoli, kale and cabbage – a genus of plants The Brassica family has many vegetables that you eat every day – broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts. Studies have shown that frequent consumption of these cruciferous vegetables reduces the risk of cancer but also slows down thyroid function. The same anti-cancer nutritional molecule found in both Brassica vegetables and Cannabis has been identified as a CB2 receptor agonist that activates anti-inflammatory effects, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
It turns out that the black truffle (Tuber melanosporum) contains a “bliss molecule” similar to the substance that Cannabis gives to its psychoactive properties. … Some scientists call the compound a bliss molecule because it affects mood, appetite, memory, pain, depression and fertility.
Recent research has shown that the maca contains molecules that increase our production of natural cannabinoids and can improve our mental health as a natural antidepressant. Lepidium meyenii, known as maca or Peruvian ginseng, is an edible herbaceous plant of the family Brassicaceae, native to the high Andean mountains of Peru, South America. It was found on the Meseta de Bombón plateau near Lake Junin in the late 1980s.
Kava. The Kava plant (Piper methysticum) has grown in popularity as an anxiolide due to its sedative effect. Kava root is traditionally used in Pacific Island cultures to make a medicinal drink from the roots. The decoction is believed to provide a calming, pain-relieving and euphoric effect. These effects are mainly caused by compounds called kavalactones. In particular, one of these compounds interacts with the CB1 receptor. This is the same THC binding site and is most prevalent in the central nervous system. This interaction may in part lead to intoxicating effects.
Scientists have developed Pichia pastoris, a species of methylotrophic yeast. It was found in the sixties of the last century. It can produce an enzyme that produces tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA), an inactive form of psychoactive THC.
Current cannabinoid-based medicines.
Cannabinoids and similar substances associated with ECS are used in modern medicine, and the potential of these herbal medicines is only growing. There are currently three cannabinoid-based medicines on the market that have been approved by either the European Medicines Agency or European national authorities and the US Food and Drug Administration. Marinol / Syndros (containing synthetic THC, Unimed Pharmaceuticals) and Nabilone / Cesamet (containing a synthetic cannabinoid, similar to THC, Valeant Pharmaceuticals) are used to treat nausea and vomiting from cancer medicines or loss of appetite from HIV / AIDS. Nabilone is also used to relieve pain in Canada. Epidiolex (containing CBD) is used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.
The company that makes Epidiolex, Greenwich Biosciences, has also developed Sativex (containing THC and CBD), which is currently only approved across Europe and is used to treat spasticity due to multiple sclerosis with potential schizophrenia and other neurological conditions. Abbott Laboratories, Indevus Pharmaceuticals, Pharmos, Cayman Chemical, Sanofi-Aventis and Merck are investigating a number of other cannabinoid-related drugs for neuroprotection, anticancer, neuropathic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis, anti-inflammatory, chronic pain, memory and weight loss.
When developing this medicine, it may be difficult to protect specific plant-based compounds with patents; however, it may be possible to obtain patent protection for medicinal products that also contain more patentable medicinal technologies.
Cannabinoid-related medicines show promising uses and scientists, pharmaceutical companies and naturopaths are showing interest in their potential. Such herbal medicines provide an opportunity to access and benefit from ECS to improve health and well-being. Their use will only increase as researchers deepen their understanding of plant biochemicals and their effects. Herbal medicines that specifically target ECS need to be readily available because of their ability to have a more gentle effect on human health and well-being in general.
In conclusion. The chemicals in these plants are not exactly the same as those found in Cannabis, but they seem to have a positive effect on the human endocannabinoid system.
Cannabis may be the only plant that produces THC, but recent studies show that conventional foods and other wild plants can also affect the endocannabinoid system. Although echinacea, black pepper and chocolate are probably the best known, research into phytocannabinoids continues.
The information on the internet about CBD products and their use will be ambiguous, so we always recommend reading safe and reliable sources. We also use websites related to the Cannabis industry, research and education to prepare information.
The content of this site is for informational purposes only. We are not medical experts and this should not be interpreted as medical advice. Be sure to consult your doctor before undergoing CBD or other treatment.
The chemistry of every human body and brain is unique, so the use of CBD to improve mental as well as physical health does not guarantee results. However, many GWEEPRODUCTS CBD oil users have included it into their daily routine as one of the therapies for improving mental, physical health and quality of life.
References: healthline.com; royalqueenseeds.com; the-ecs.com; fundacion-canna.es
Photo from Unsplash.