The magic of cannabis, certainly from a medical perspective, is that a single plant produces so many healing compounds. These are called cannabinoids. While the focus so far has been on a couple of the major cannabinoids, namely THC and CBD, there are many others.

However, beyond cannabis, there are other plants and flowers that also appear to interact with the human endocannabinoid system. Some plants on this intriguing list do produce actual cannabinoid chemical compounds. Others produce compounds that mimic cannabinoids.

PHYTOCANNABINOIDS, ENDOCANNABINOIDS, AND CANNABIMIMETICS

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds. They are produced in plants, and naturally by the human body. The latter group are known as endocannabinoids or “endogenous cannabinoids.”

Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced by plants. Believe it or not, many plants beyond cannabis produce phytocannabinoids.

Beyond that, however, there are also substances called cannabimimetic compounds that mimic cannabinoid properties when consumed. Specifically, they engage with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

What are these wonders of nature? You probably have already heard of them, even if you did not know all the details. Interestingly enough, many plants containing phytocannabinoids or cannabimimetic compounds are referred to as “superfoods”.

CONEFLOWER (ECHINACEA)

Echinacea is a well-known medical-use plant. In fact, it is used for many of the same kinds of conditions that cannabis can treat. It is often applied as a way to combat the common cold. Arthritis sufferers also find it can relieve pain. Coneflower is frequently used for fatigue and migraines as well.

Why is it so effective? Echinacea contains cannabimimetics. These compounds are not exactly similar to cannabinoids, but they do interact with the ECS, specifically the CB2 receptor, in a similar way. Because this receptor is responsible for regulating the immune system and inflammation, stimulation in any way will produce a similar response.

ELECTRIC DAISY (ACMELLA OLERACEA)

Electric daisy is sometimes known as the “toothache plant.” Hailing from the Amazon, it is often used as the basis for a powerful painkilling gel. Formal trials conducted at Cambridge University found that the plant can block pain receptors at nerve endings.

The reason? Electric daisy contains cannabinoid-like compounds known as N-isobutylamides. These also stimulate the CB2 receptor, and as a result, can effectively combat shooting pain.

Electric daisy is so effective that it is being considered as the base for a new kind of dental drug.

HELICHRYSUM UMBRACULIGERUM

The name is a little hard to say, not to mention spell. However, this daisy indigenous to South Africa contains a similar chemical compound to cannabigerol (or CBG). CBG is still one of the lesser-known cannabinoids. Yet, it has strong potential for treating depression and other mood disturbances. CBG also has potent anti-inflammatory properties.

In African pharmacology, a variety of this plant is often used in ritual ceremonies. And ongoing research has already suggested that compounds in the plant may have psychotropic qualities very similar to cannabis.

LIVERWORT (RADULA MARGINATA)

Liverwort is native to New Zealand. More importantly, it is chock-a-block full of perrottetinenic acid. This is very similar chemically, and in terms of impact, to THC. Perrottetinenic acid works primarily on the CB1 receptor.

That said, it is non-psychoactive. Liverwort is commonly used as a natural remedy to treat bronchitis as well as gallbladder and bladder problems.

BLACK PEPPER (PIPER NIGRUM)

Black pepper actually acts like a cannabinoid in the human body, even though it is not as powerful. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. It is becoming apparent through continued study that black pepper may increase the effectiveness of certain kinds of cancer treatment drugs.

GOOD OLD CHOCOLATE (THEOBROMA CACAO)

Theobroma cacao literally means “food of the gods”. Cacao is a noted superfood. It has been reported for a long time that eating chocolate can boost one’s mood. In fact, cacao also contains several “happy brain” chemicals including theobromine, tryptophan, phenylethylamine, and of course, anandamide. This is known as the “bliss” molecule. Such is the reason eating chocolate lifts mood. Plant-derived anandamide also lingers in the body.

In fact, cacao and cannabis are two of the three known plants that contain compounds that literally fit into the human brain like a “lock and key” system.

There is also a scientific explanation behind the idea that eating chocolate before you smoke cannabis intensifies the high.

Chocolate contains a compound called FAAH, which interacts with the ECS. FAAH breaks down anandamide. While chocolate is nowhere near as potent as cannabis and is certainly not psychoactive, it still creates a positive impact on the brain and body.

BLACK TRUFFLES (TUBER MELANOSPORUM)

Italian researchers recently made a major discovery. Black truffles create the same anandamide as cacao. When eaten, they also release this bliss molecule into the body where it binds to the CB1 receptor.

Black truffles are also biologically older than even cannabis. The black truffle has been around for the last 156 million years. Cannabis is “only” about 70-110 million years old.

CHINESE RHODODENDRON

Essential oils extracted from the Chinese Rhododendron are powerful medicines that have long been included in the repertoire of traditional herbal remedies.

Rhododendron anthopogonoides, as the plant is known scientifically, is found in Southern China. Even more interesting? Chinese Rhododendron extract can kill anything from staph infections to cancer cells. A fascinating study from 2011 conducted by Nihon University in Japan even found that folic acids in Chinese Rhododendron act very much like cannabinoids. Crude drug extracts even contain several flavonoids, triterpenes, and tannins.

KAVA (PIPER METHYSTICUM)

Most people know kava from the drink that is frequently made from its leaves. Native to the Pacific Islands, it has long been used as local natural medicine. Its popularity has gradually grown in the West.

The tea has a mild sedative effect and is known to ease anxiety and even chronic pain. The scientific explanation for this? There is a compound in kava that appears to bind to the CB1 receptor. Kava is full of compounds called kavalactones. One in particular, called yangonin, interacts directly with the receptor. Beyond the CB1, kavalactones also bind to similar brain locations as cannabinoids associated with addiction and cravings.

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