It was about time for the Western medical system to accept the fact that marijuana is not a drug, but a medicine. It has been used as a medicine for more than 5000 years by a number of cultures throughout the world, and now its effectiveness and safety is proven by a number of studies.
There are compounds called cannabinoids in cannabis, and they promote the endocannabinoid system. Namely, this system is composed of neuromodulatory lipids and cannabinoid receptors which are found in the brain (to be more precise in the spinal cord, basal ganglia, hippocampus, cerebral cortex and cerebellum) and throughout the peripheral and central nervous system. Moreover, these receptors are also located in the immune cells, glands, connective tissues and a number of organs.
Since this system is connected to the brain and other systems, it is often considered a bridge between mind and body.
The cannabinoid receptors can be of two kinds.
CB1 which are generally found in the nervous system, organs, glands, gonads and connective tissues. They moderate the physiological effects on the central nervous system and also regulate the immune responses.
CB2 which are generally located in the immune system and its structures. These receptors can reduce pain, prevent edema and inflammation and protect the liver from injury. Moreover, according to researchers, they could be the treatment for osteoporosis and atherosclerosis.
The majority of tissues in the body contain both of these receptors, and they act together so as to complete a number of actions. According to researchers, there is also a third receptor, but it is not discovered yet. It is also believed that these receptors are more numerous compared to the other receptor systems. Moreover, the body creates cannabinoids on its own within the Purkinje cells, macrophage, glial cells, adipocytes, and endothelial cells. The cannabinoids are produced by neurons in order to change the way information is received.
Psychologically, these substances stimulate a more positive and social mood, promoting creativity, humor and sharing. Moreover, they have an effect on the learning and the plasticity and they make the person more open-minded.
The most popular source of phytocannabinoids, which contains 65 cannabinoid-like substances is the cannabis. Nevertheless, there are other plants which also produce these substances and have the similar beneficial properties of the marijuana.
More Plant-Based Cannabinoids
- Coneflower (Echinacea)
This plant is generally used as a treatment for the common cold, but it is also beneficial for indigestion, chronic fatigue syndrome, ADHD, chronic pain, migraines, and urinary tract infections. It does not have the same amount of cannabinoids as the cannabis does, but is contains N-alkylamides (alkamides). These bind to the CB2 receptors and reduce inflammation, minimize pain and regulate the immune system.
- Electric Daisy ( Acmella oleracea)
This plant originates from Amazon and it has been used as a treatment for ulcers, toothaches, abscesses, irritable bowel syndrome and for cleaning the teeth. However, its most powerful distinction is that it has incredible painkilling properties.
The compound which is responsible for this is known as N-Isobutylamides. This plant also binds to CB2 receptors.
- Woolly Umbrella Helichrysum ( Helichrysum umbraculigerum)
This plant originates from South Africa and has antidepressant and mood-stabilizing properties due to its cannabigerol content. This substance is the predecessor to the cannabinoids, CBC, CBD and THC in cannabis, as was explained by Giovanni Appendino, who is a natural product chemist.
This plant promises a lot, but is it hard to study it since the bio-piracy laws in South Africa prohibit export and collection of native species in order to prevent foreign exploitation. Fortunately, Lilichrysum cannabinoids can be found in liverwort.
- Liverwort ( Radula marginata)
This plant originates from New Zealand and contains a compound which is called perrottetinenic acid and which is a recently discovered cannabinoid. This compound binds to CB1 receptors. Moreover, this plant contains perrottetinene and bibenzyls. It can help with bladder, liver and gallbladder problems. It can also treat bronchitis.
- Cacao (Theobroma cacao)
We all know that chocolate improves mood, and scientist are still researching how it all works. It contains N-oleoylethanolamide and N-linoleoylethanolamide which deactivates the FAAH enzyme, thus impedes the breakdown of endocannabinoid anandamide. Neurons release anandamide and it binds to cannabinoid receptors. This improves the wellbeing and heightens the senses.
Furthermore, it is possible that chocolate contains lipids which are chemically related to anandamide.
- Black Pepper ( Piper nigrum)
Black pepper is not just a flavor boost. Namely, it contains β-caryophyllene, which is a cannabinoid which binds to CB2 receptors and reduces inflammation. Moreover, it is an aroma molecule that is found in a number of essential oils. This molecule is easy for digestion and can be helpful in the treatment of osteoporosis and arthritis.