While plant-based cannabinoids (CBD, THC, etc) are showing great promise in helping regulate our internal endocannabinoid system, there are powerful natural ways to help support our ECS and its optimal functioning.
Feed the Endocannabinoid System
*Omega-3 Fatty Acids – The endocannabinoid system requires certain molecules to help it function properly, specifically certain acids. These include omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in foods like fatty fish, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, sardines, anchovies, and some nuts. By consuming fatty-acid-rich foods, we increase both our body’s ability to produce and bind with endocannabinoids as well as increase the bioavailability of our receiving neurons (fat cells that contain receptors).
*Chocolate – Cacao powder contains three compounds that are structurally very similar to endocannabinoids. These compounds can inhibit the breakdown of your body’s own endocannabinoids, resulting in higher endocannabinoid levels, and may have some cannabinoid activity of their own. The content of cannabinoid-like compounds in chocolate are highest in dark chocolate and raw cacao. Other compounds in chocolate may be able to help prevent heart disease, stroke, and dementia. Look for at least 70% dark chocolate, or try adding raw cacao nibs to smoothies or cereal!
*Herbs – Numerous herbs contain compounds that can enhance the ECS. Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene found in black pepper, lemon balm, hops, cloves, cannabis, oregano, cinnamon, and several other herbs. It selectively stimulates the CB2 receptor, a sought-after property in the development of treatments for inflammatory disorders.
*Echinacea – Often used by herbalists for up to two weeks to stimulate the immune system during infections, also contains CB2 agonists.
*Tea – Camellia Sinensis, commonly known as “tea,” contains a compound that prevents the breakdown of endocannabinoids and another compound that may stimulate the cannabinoid receptors.
*Turmeric – This yellow spice in curry powder, contains curcumin, which also raises endocannabinoid levels amongst numerous other health benefits.
Avoid Blocking the Endocannabinoid System
Just as some substances can help the endocannabinoid system, others can hinder it. These include chemicals like pesticides or phthalates found in plastics. As these chemicals can interact with or block the receptivity of the endocannabinoid system, it’s best to avoid them. Choose organic produce devoid of pesticides, and opt for glass storage containers instead of plastic.
Nurture the Endocannabinoid System
Like many systems in the body, the endocannabinoid system is adversely affected by stress and stress hormones like cortisol. To reduce the impact of stress on the endocannabinoid system, experts suggest introducing healthy behaviors such as exercise, social interaction, massage, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and even fasting, to help increase our natural endocannabinoids.