December 23, 2020
By Christine Cheng, R.Ph. and Fred Cheng, R.Ph.
When someone mentions “cannabinoids”, most people’s thoughts turn to marijuana. But, that is only because when researchers started looking into why marijuana, or cannabis had such a profound effect on so many body systems, they discovered a unique system that did not yet have a technical name…so they named it after the molecules that act on this system, i.e., cannabinoids (e.g., tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] and cannabidiol [CBD]). Thus, this newly discovered system in the body was given the name, the “Endocannabinoid System” (ECS). As more and more research is done, there have been discoveries that many other phytochemicals from other plant-based sources can affect the ECS.
It is important to have a basic understanding of the ECS, is a cell-signaling system based on the science of cannabis (“cannabinoid”) found within the body (“endo”). There are cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body, which the two main ones being CB1 (found mainly in the brain) and CB2 receptors (found in immune cells, the gastrointestinal tract and in the peripheral nervous system). Our bodies can make endocannabinoid molecules (such as anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol [2-AG]) from dietary fats and these molecules can bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors. There are key enzymes that impact the synthesis and metabolism of these endocannabinoids.
Of the many natural health products that can affect the ECS, we find it not surprising that fish oils can support the ECS since they seem to have so many other benefits on other systems in the body. Although the omega-6 fatty acid, arachidonic acid is a precursor to anandamide, an endocannabinoid that promotes a sense of bliss and calming, too much dietary arachidonic acid is also associated with greater inflammation in the body. However, omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), also found in fish oils are readily converted to compounds that have affinity for both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
There are many other molecules that can affect the ECS. For example, clove oil contains a compound that binds to CB2 receptors to help reduce pain. Another example is Echinacea purpurea, which contains alkylamides that bind to CB2 recepts to boost the immune system as well as decrease the breakdown of anandamide.
A company called Emerald™ Health Naturals has developed a blend of phytonutrients called PhytoCann® Complex that includes ginger, white peony, clove, Bunge prickylash, Echinacea, and Magnolia that all have shown effects on the ECS. This company combines their proprietary blend with other phytonutrients and/or herbals that have similar benefits to create products with specific purposes. For example, their ENDO BLISS product combines PhytoCann® Complex with l-theanine (an amino acid well-known for its ability to elicit a state of relaxation) and Saffron extract (which has been shown to have mood-supporting abilities) to create a product that helps the user to feel more blissful. Those who are feeling “stressed out” could benefit from the calming effects of ENDO CALM which combines PhytoCann® Complex with Ashwagandha (an adaptogenic herb that can help manage cortisol levels) and GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid; a neurotransmitter that is used to manage anxiety). Other blends include ENDO-BRAIN (to help with memory and cognition), ENDO-INFLAME (to help reduce pain), and ENDO-SLEEP (to promote better sleep).
Come talk to one of our Integrative Health Pharmacists to see whether these non-cannabis products may be beneficial to support your EndoCannabinnoid System.
Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique, family-operated Pharmasave stores in Cloverdale and Steveston, B.C. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. Everything mentioned in their article is available InStore.
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