As you may know, the effects of cannabis are due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is the system by which cannabinoids, the chemical compounds secreted by the cannabis plant, interact with the human body. The ECS helps the human body maintain homeostasis, meaning that it remains constant, well-regulated, and healthy.
It was previously believed that the cannabis plant was the only source of cannabinoids. However, evidence is beginning to suggest that this may not be the case, and that there may be other ways to care for your ECS. In a recent paper, neurologist and pharmacology researcher Dr. Ethan Russo highlighted how some plants may be able to supplement the ECS. Below, we have outlined how some of these plants may help your body stay in balance.
CB1 and CB2
The endocannabinoid system has two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain and central nervous system, although they are found in other tissues to a lesser degree. CB2 receptors, by contrast, are found primarily in peripheral organs, especially in cells associated with the immune system.
To provide your CB1 receptors with some extra care, consider consuming frankincense or kava. Frankincense displays anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiseptic effects similar to those of cannabis. It can be purchased as an essential oil and consumed by applying to the skin, usually with the help of a carrier oil, or inhaled. Large quantities can be toxic, however, so take care when inhaling.
Kava, a root native to the South Pacific islands, can produce calming effects similar to cannabis. It is usually consumed as a tea or tincture, and can be found at most herbalists. While there were concerns over one particular preparation causing liver damage in the past, this preparation is no longer commercially available, and Dr. Russo notes that it has a long history of safe use in Polynesia.
As it turns out, a variety of household items and commonly used plants may contain an agent of use to your ECS: beta-caryophyllene. Because of the way it interacts with your CB2 receptors, beta-caryophyllene has anti-inflammatory properties. It can be found in black pepper, lemon balm, cloves, and hops (which is, of course, used to prepare beer).
These are just a few of the non-cannabis plants that may help care for your ECS. For a complete overview, check out this interview with Dr. Russo. Don’t forget, however, that nothing stimulates your endocannabinoid system like cannabis itself, so be sure to stop by Substance soon!