We’re a step closer to realizing that marijuana is not a harmful drug, but a helpful medicine.
Even though marijuana still has a bad reputation nowadays, it has been widely used as a medicine for more than 5000 years.
Its medical properties are due to the compounds known as cannabinoids, which stimulate the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is composed of neuromodulatory lipids and cannabinoid receptors located in the brain and all peripheral nerves. These receptors are also found in various organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells.
There are two types of cannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 – mostly present in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and organs. They mediate physiological effects on the central nervous system and have been reported to modulate immune responses.
- CB2 – mostly found in the immune system and its associated structures. They’re known to inhibit inflammation and edema, diminish pain, and protect the liver against injury. According to researchers, these receptors may hold the key to treating atherosclerosis and osteoporosis.
Although cannabis is the best known source of cannabinoids and only tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBD) are known to activate both CB1 and CB2 receptors, there are other plants that produce cannabinoids and cannabinoid-like substances that may have similar beneficial properties as marijuana. Here are six of them:
Famous for its ability to fight off common cold, it can also relieve anxiety, fatigue, migraines, and arthritis. It contains N-alkyl amides which are similar to THC. They can engage the endocannabinoid system, particularly the CB2 receptor, and are responsible for regulating the immune system, pain, and inflammation.
- Electric daisy – Acmella Oleracea
Native to the Amazon, the electric daisy is used to treat toothaches, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, abscesses, and to clean the teeth. It contains N-Isobutylamides that are similar to other cannabinoid-like compounds, which regulate pain and inflammation.
- Helichrysum Umbraculigerum
Native to South Africa, this daisy has a strong mood-stabilizing and antidepressant effect due to a large amount of cannabigerol (CBG), also found in the cannabis plant. The Italian natural product chemist Giovanni Appendino stated during the 2014 International Cannabinoid Research Society meeting that this substance is the precursor to the active cannabinoids in cannabis, THC, CBD, and CBC (cannabichromene).
Moreover, liverwort also contains Helichrysum cannabinoids.
- Liverwort (Radula Marginata)
Native to New Zealand, it contains Perrottetinenic acid which is a ewly discovered cannabinoid-type bibenzyl compound. This acid connects to CB1 receptors. This plant is used for treating bronchitis and has been used in the past to relieve gallbladder, liver, and bladder problems.
We all know that chocolate can boost the mood, and scientists are yet discovering why is this the case. Namely, it contains N-Linoleoylethanolamide and N-Oleoylethanolamide, which prevents the breakdown of down the endocannabinoid anandamide by deactivating the FAAH enzyme. The neurons release Anandamide that binds to cannabinoid receptors with high affinity and mimics the effects of cannabinoid drugs. This results in boosting your senses and improves well-being, which may explain why we experience chocolate cravings.
- Black pepper
Not only is it an excellent spice, but black pepper also contains β-caryophyllene, a cannabinoid that binds to CB2 receptors to reduce inflammation. It’s also a common aroma molecule that’s found in many essential oils. β-caryophyllene is easily digestible and can be beneficial in treating arthritis and osteoporosis.