Plants That Contain Therapeutic Cannabinoids – Healing Compounds That Nourish Our EC System
A cannabinoid is a chemical compound that interacts with a large regulatory system in the body called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body. Homeostasis is the perfect internal balance required for optimum health.
Cannabinoids produced by plants are known as phytocannabinoids, those produced by the body are known as endocannabinoids, and lab-synthesized compounds are simply known as synthetic cannabinoids.
There are also a few common plants that contain compounds that mimic the biological activity of the classic cannabinoid but have a slightly different structure. These are called cannabimimetic compounds.
Cannabimimetics are of increasing importance within the world of medicinal cannabinoid research. Classically, the ECS has been viewed as a simple set of two receptors and two ligands.
However, it is now increasingly being shown that the ECS is far more complex than this. Dozens of different compounds are now known to act either directly or indirectly on the ECS, and many of these compounds also work on other important biological messaging systems. Multiple plants contain the healing compounds that nourish our ECS.
Cacao has been known to contain several of different “happy brain” chemicals. Cacao is rich in anandamide, an endocannabinoid that is naturally produced in the human brain; it regulates mood, memory, appetite, and pain perception. Anandamide is known as the “bliss” neurotransmitter because it causes a euphoric “high” when released. Scientists identify anandamide as the body’s natural version of THC. In order to absorb all the health benefits of cacao, it’s important to source raw, organic, fair-trade cacao — NOT processed or milk chocolate. It’s the addition of powdered milk to cacao that blocks the body’s absorption of the healing nutrients of cacao.
Black Pepper is a potent, healing herb. The plant’s aroma molecule, called BCP, functions as a cannabinoid. Similar to other plant-based cannabinoids, BCP binds with the CB2 receptors. This gives black pepper its therapeutic effect of reducing inflammation. Various research has suggested that BCP could be used for the treatment of arthritis and osteoporosis. In addition, it may potentially increase the effectiveness of certain anti-cancer drugs.
Echinacea is well-known for its ability to help the body fight off the common cold. It is also used to relieve anxiety, fatigue, migraines, and arthritis. Echinacea uses cannabimimetics instead of cannabinoids to engage the endocannabinoid system, particularly the CB2 receptor. The N-alkyl amides (NAAs) contained in Echinacea are very similar to THC in the way they regulate pain, inflammation, and the immune system.
Italian researchers have recently found that black truffles create the same anandamide, “bliss molecule,” as cacao, which helps the body regulate mood. In addition, it regulates how we perceive pain. It does this by binding with CB1 receptors that are present in the central nervous system. Interestingly enough, a study recently showed that black truffle has been around for nearly 156 million years, much older than other well known cannabinoids.
Typically used in a medicinal tea, kava can ease anxiety and chronic pain. It is also induces a sedative effect. Hence, in certain cultures kava tea has become a popular natural anxiety remedy. Similar to THC, components in kava bind to CB1 receptors in brain locations associated with addiction and cravings. For decades, Pacific Islanders have been using kava as a treatment for addiction.
Long used as a pain-numbing gel in the Amazon region, electric daisy was found to block pain receptors at their nerve endings thanks to research conducted at Cambridge University. The compounds that cause the effective pain-relief of this flower are cannabinoids called N-isobutylamides that affect the CB2 receptors and regulate pain and inflammation throughout the body.
Now botanists and natural scientists are finding that cannabimimetic molecules in plants are more prevalent than first realized. All of the plants just mentioned have valuable therapeutic properties. Many of them have been used as traditional medicines for centuries. We’re only just beginning to understand why they’ve proven to be so useful.
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Plants That Contain Therapeutic Cannabinoids – Healing Compounds That Nourish Our Endocannabinoid System – ECS