Cannabinoids in the Plant Kingdom - That’s Natural!

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Cannabinoids, as a naturally occurring chemical compound, exist in many plants - not just cannabis (or non-psychoactive hemp).  How cannabinoids interact with humans’ Endocannabinoid System (or ECS for short) has been known for decades - their pain-relieving, immune-boosting, and ‘feel-good’ properties are a part of our experience with many other plants.  Here are six of the most well-known species from the plant kingdom that have cannabinoids in them!

Coneflower (Echinacea)

Some species of echinacea contain cannabinoids - specifically, cannabimemetics - and it is no surprise that they engage the Endocannabinoid System.  These compounds interact mostly with the CB2 receptor, which is responsible for regulating pain, the immune system, and inflammatory responses.  Echinacea is known for fighting the common cold and relieving symptoms of fatigue, arthritis, anxiety, and migraines - now we have another reason to love this plant!

Electric Daisy (Acmella oleracea)

This plant contains cannabinoid-like compounds that are called "N-Isobutylamides" which interact with the CB2 receptor in the ECS. It works as a powerful pain killer that also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Helichrysum umbraculigerum

This is a daisy that contains a large amount of the cannabinoid CBG (cannabigerol).  CBG has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as antidepressant and mood stabilizing properties.

Liverwort (Radula marginata)

This lichen plant has been used historically to treat liver, gallbladder and bladder problems, as well as bronchitis.  However, the New Zealand liverwort has a large amount of perrottetinenic acid, which is similar to the psychoactive cannabinoid THC, and is thought to act upon the CB1 receptor.

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)

Black peppers contain a large amount of the terpene called beta-caryophyllene.  This particular terpene functions much like a cannabinoid - it has an affinity to bind to the CB2 receptor.  Initial research is showing that beta-caryophyllene has therapeutic potential as an anti-inflammatory compound and enhances the effects of anti-cancer drugs.

Chocolate (Theobroma cacao)

As if we needed another reason to love chocolate, it turns out that this plant (and tasty products made from such) has multiple compounds that interact with our ECS.  Similar to CBD, the enzyme FAAH (Fatty acid amide hydrolase ), is deactivated by compounds in chocolate - this increases the amount of anandamide in the body and can make us feel good - more happy and relaxed.

Naturally occurring terpenoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids are all compounds that are found in thousands of species of plants.  Cannabinoids like CBD (Cannabidiol) are not just in cannabis - they are all around us.  And it isn’t just the one cannabinoid CBD that is incredible - it is a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes (as well as many other compounds in plants and the oils of plants) that are what interact in our bodies and make us responsive to natural, plant-based medicines.

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