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Cannabinoids Without Cannabis: Stimulating the Endocannabinoid System With Food

Cannabinoids Without Cannabis: Stimulating the Endocannabinoid System With Food

The cannabis community is abuzz with all the health (and enjoyment) benefits that cannabis compounds offer. But did you know that cannabis isn't the only way to stimulate your endocannabinoid system? That's right: there are cannabinoids in foods we enjoy every day.

From plant cannabinoids like cannabigerol (CBG) to endocannabinoids like anandamide, there is a wealth of goodness to be found in nature's bounty. So if you're looking to enjoy some of the many benefits of cannabinoids, the solution may be as close as your garden!

Here's a run-down of the most cannabinoid-rich foods you can find in your grocery store, garden, or wherever you find nutritionally rich, healthy foods near you!

Why Care About the Cannabinoids in Food?

Before diving into the many cannabinoids in food, you may be wondering: why do these matter? After all, they don't get the attention that cannabis cannabinoids do, so why are food cannabinoids worth paying attention to?

The reason is simple: because cannabinoids, regardless of the source, play a vital role in maintaining your health through a process known as homeostasis. And that's all thanks to your endocannabinoid system.

The Human Endocannabinoid System

All animals' bodies have developed to react to cannabinoids through a complex and vital system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is responsible for some of your body's most essential functions, and it touches on everything from regulating mood and appetite to the way you perceive pain, your digestive health, and much, much more.

How's it all work? Think of cannabinoids as messengers between different parts of the body, helping the body understand what its systems need and respond appropriately.

The body produces its own cannabinoids (known as "endocannabinoids"), which help send signals between cells and different body systems by interacting with cannabinoid receptors. But sometimes, signals sent via endocannabinoids can get crossed, or the body may not produce enough of its own cannabinoids due to an imbalance.

Enter the cannabinoids in food. These external (or "exocannabinoids") can help fill in the gaps where your body's cannabinoids may have fallen short. By supplementing your body's own cannabinoid production, the cannabinoids in food can help you to manage your own needs more consciously, carefully, and productively than the body could alone.

The Common Foods Rich in Cannabinoids

So, where can you find the richest sources of exocannabinoids, and which are best for your needs? Here's a breakdown of some of the most common cannabinoid-rich foods and a few that boost the performance of the ECS (even if they don't contain cannabinoids).


This herb isn't just a go-to tool for warding off the common cold. Echinacea is also loaded with one of the most important cannabinoids: anandamide.

Anandamide, sometimes known as the "bliss molecule", was the first endocannabinoid discovered, and it serves several vitally important roles in the body. These include appetite stimulation, mood fluctuation, and pain management.

Adding a bit of echinacea into your wellness regimen may be one of the best ways to boost your bliss and help your body get the anandamide it needs to feel its best!


Many cannabis users have long sworn by chocolate as the best way to boost their enjoyment of THC, the primary cannabinoid in marijuana. They just might have inadvertently been on to something: chocolate can prevent endocannabinoids from breaking down and leave you feeling better longer.

That's because cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate, reduces levels of FAAH, a chemical that metabolizes and eliminates several endocannabinoids. That means that a bit of chocolate can help keep your endocannabinoid levels high, boost your ECS's performance, and keep you smiling longer.

But that's no surprise to chocolate lovers, is it?

Green Vegetables

Though they're not as exciting as chocolate, there's no doubt: vegetables really are good for you. Recent research into the ECS only reinforces that, because it turns out that many common veggies can significantly boost the endocannabinoid system.

It turns out that many green vegetables interact directly with CB2 cannabinoid receptors, boosting their effectiveness and helping fight off many bodily ailments. The effect is most significant for helping fight off inflammation and the many painful problems it can cause, but the effects are far more extensive.

So what veggies should the cannabinoid connoisseur focus on? Brassica vegetables are the star of the show. This plant genus contains many of the most common and healthiest vegetables you'll find, including cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower.

If you're looking to boost your ECS (and especially if you're considering cannabinoids for fighting inflammation), adding a few more healthy veggies may be just what the doctor ordered.

Foods to Avoid: Cannabinoids Blockers

Just like your diet can boost your ECS, it can also impede it.

The two biggest culprits? Alcohol and microplastics.

Regular alcohol consumption has been linked to decreased performance of the body's endocannabinoid system. While moderate, occasional alcohol use may not impair the ECS, it's more important than ever to drink responsibly.

Plastics in your diet are far more insidious and, potentially, far more damaging to the ECS. Emerging research shows that plastics in your diet can dramatically impede the ECS and several other vital bodily functions.

But of course, people don't tend to eat plastic — at least not directly.

Even residue from certain forms of plastic can be harmful, leaving behind phthalates and microplastic that can be incredibly damaging to the body, not just to the ECS.

Try to use glass or ceramic containers for your food, and never eat something that has been heated in plastic. Your body (and especially your endocannabinoid system) will thank you.

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