The cannabis oil has become very popular for the treatment of various health issues, but the controversy regarding its use still remains. The content of cannabinoids in cannabis is what people interest when using cannabis oil, and because of that researchers are performing more analyses on the way how they act in the human body. According to some researchers cannabinoids act as ligands that bind to proteins and modulate receptors in the brain and throughout the body.
We all know the effect cannabis can bring to our body, but not many people know that the biological activity of cannabinoids can be mimicked by other herbs and plants. Namely, the compounds in these plants are referred as to “cannabimimetic,” meaning that they show similar effects on the body as cannabinoids although they don’t have the same biological structure.
In the further research of scientists on the effects of cannabinoids it was revealed their influence on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). ECS is a biological system made up of neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and other areas of the central and peripheral nervous systems.
The Relation of Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system takes a great part in various cognitive and physiological processes, accountable for keeping homeostasis, or a stable, well-functioning internal environment.
This biochemical communication system in the human body was discovered when scientists started to study the effects of cannabis. This newly discovered system is comprised of endocannabinoid receptors that respond to cannabinoid compounds that are present in cannabis and a number of other plants. These receptors are everywhere in our body: in the immune cells, brain, organs, connective tissues and glands. Additionally, they are present in all vertebrate species allowing the occurrence of many physiological processes in the body.
Researchers have come up with two types of cannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 receptors, found in the organs, nervous system, connective tissues, glands, and gonads
- CB2 receptors, present in the immune system.
However, there is a possibility for more types of cannabinoid receptors as scientists still have not fully analyzed their role in the body, in fact they have only scratched the surface.
In the past it was believed that only THC and a few other phytocannabinoids could have an impact on these receptors. Thanks to the new research there are other plants and foods that can affect the endocannabinoid system. It was revealed that cannabimimetics, the compounds that mimic cannabinoids, can have the same effect.
The cannabimimetic compounds of these plants and super foods do not share the same biological structure as cannabinoids, but the provided effects are similar. These plants and foods are beneficial for the body as they nourish the biological system known as endocannabinoid. This system is comprised of neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and other areas of the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Here are the herbs and super foods that reveal such effect:
10 Herbs that Mimic Cannabinoids
1. Lavender, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Black Pepper, Ylang Ylang, and Cloves Essential Oils
The essential oils contain terpenes, aroma molecules that stimulate the CB2, a cannabinoid receptor mostly present in the immune system. The rosemary, lavender, black pepper, clove, and cinnamon essential oils have in their content a sesquiterpenoid known as beta-caryophyllene (βCP). This compound selectively binds to the CB2 receptor becoming a functional CB2 agonist, in other words it induces a physiological response.
Cannabis is made of βCP, but also other essential oils of numerous spice and plant foods have it as a common constituent. Hence, we can state that the essential oils have in their content βCP that shows natural cannabimimetic effects.
This root is well recognized for its numerous benefits. Kava root has in its content compounds named as kavalactones. Among these compounds one outstands known as yangonin as it can interact directly with CB1 receptors. According to scientists these specific compounds that can interact with proteins of the endocannabinoid system, provide the body with many beneficial effects.
3. Helichrysum italicum
This plant has been used for centuries thanks to its remarkable properties. It is considered to be the major producer of compounds that mimic cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabigerol acid (CBGa), highly structurally diversified types of phytocannabinoids. The latter being present in the cannabis as well. There is still then need for further research on how these non-cannabis CBG compounds work within the body. It is believed that the effects start from the plant’s aromatic acid.
Echinacea mimic cannabinoids as a result of the content of fatty acid compounds known as N-acylethanolamines that have the ability to bind and activate cannabinoid receptors. Once the CB2 receptors are engaged the N-acylethanolamines compounds have affected the body.
5. Maca root
Maca root is considered to be an adaptogen and for centuries frequently used super food in the regions of the Andes Mountains. This type of cruciferous vegetable can be also found in powder form.
According to some research maca root is comprised of compounds known as N-alkylamides (NAAs) that have the ability to mimic cannabinoids. They are affecting various proteins thus targeting the endocannabinoid system.
Copaifera reticulata or copaiba oil resin is an ingredient that supports the overall health and well-being. As per performed research 40 to 57% of copaiba oil is comprised of β-caryophyllene that acts as a cannabinoid that can bind to certain receptors.
7. Holy Basil or Tulsi
Just like the copaiba oil and other essential oils the holy basil has also in its content β-caryophyllene that reveals cannabimimetic effects.
As per the findings of some researchers the compounds in holy basil act as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) agonists, or activators similar to cannabis.
Truffles, particularly black truffle, or Tuber melanosporum, has in its content anandamide that is one of the major metabolic enzymes of the endocannabinoid system. This compound is believed to take part in the truffle’s maturation process and its interaction with the environment.
Anandamide contains endocannabinoid-binding receptors and also releases chemicals that have a similar biological mechanism as THC, and because of that it is referred to as “bliss molecule.”
Likewise, cacao nibs have in their content anandamide that is produced in the brain. This plant deactivates fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), an enzyme that belongs to the endocannabinoid system and that breaks down anandamide.
10. Omega-3 Fats
These fats are considered super food revealing a wide range of benefits. Researchers believe that some of these benefits come from the body’s ability to change omega-3 foods into endocannabinoids. As per a recently conducted study the cannabinoids are being naturally produced in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. In animal studies, researchers have found the existence of an enzymatic pathway that converts omega-3-derived endocannabinoids into molecules that bind to receptors in the immune system.
If you are receiving drug treatment you need first to consult a doctor when introducing new herbal product as there could be certain contraindications.
There are different brands and formulas of herbs and super foods; therefore you need to carefully read the label and the recommended use. It is best to seek for an advice from a health expert what would be the right dose for you. In case of any side effects, you should stop the use and visit your doctor.