You can still benefit from the same cannabinoids that give the cannabis plant its medicinal properties, without consuming cannabis. There are several foods rich in cannabinoids that benefit the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system is responsible for helping the body maintain internal balance, also called homeostasis.
Foods that support the function of the endocannabinoid system are pivotal to overall health and well-being. Here are five foods that contain healing cannabinoids and offer therapeutic benefits similar to cannabis.
1. Black Pepper – Piper nigrum
Black pepper has much in common with cannabis. The plant’s aroma molecule, called beta-caryophyllene (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.
2. Cacao – Theobroma cacao
The cacao plant has many therapeutic properties. It affects the endocannabinoid system by deactivating the enzyme called FAAH. This enzyme typically breaks down the endocannabinoid known as anandamide. Scientists identify anandamide as the body’s natural version of THC. That’s why eating delicious, organic dark chocolate can give you the sensation of being relaxed and happy.
Researchers at the Neurosciences Institute of San Diego were able to back up the claims that chocolate does contain three compounds that act as healing cannabinoids.
3. Black Truffles – Tuber melanosporum
Similarly to cannabis and cacao, black truffles also create anandamine. Some have dubbed anandamide “the bliss molecule,” because it 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.
4. Kava – Piper methysticum
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.
Kava is the national drink of Fiji. It is made by mixing the powdered kava root of this peppery plant with water. Similar to THC, components in kava bind to CB1 receptors in brain locations associated with addiction and cravings. For decades, Pacific Islanders in Fiji have been using kava as a treatment for addiction.
5. Coneflower – Echinacea
This plant 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 is a bit different than cannabis because it uses cannabimimetics instead of cannabinoids to engage the endocannabinoid system, particularly the CB2 receptor. Similar to THC in cannabis, the N-alkyl amides (NAAs) in Echinacea are responsible for regulating the immune system, pain and inflammation.
As an aside, you may also find it interesting that hemp seeds and hemp seed oil contain very low concentration of cannabinoids, at less than 25 parts per million (ppm). Compare this to CBD oil extracts produced from cannabis plant flowers, which have 150,000 ppm CBD. (source) Cannabidiol (CBD) is the most common cannabinoid in most cannabis plants.