When people hear about all of the different health conditions that cannabis can help with, some might wonder how one herb can have so many powerful medical properties without any serious side effects.
This question led researchers to discover a system of physiology working within all of us to constantly maintain homeostasis –or balance– at a cellular level. It was named the endogenous cannabinoid system (endocannabinoid) after the plant that led to its identification. It is one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining human health.
What Is the Endocannabinoid System and What Is Its Role?
Most of us don’t realize that our bodies are making cannabinoids all the time. These molecules function a lot like THC and the other cannabinoids found in the plant. Our cells produce and use cannabinoids in precise ways to respond to stress, illness, and injury, thus keeping you healthy. There’s evidence that some people’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) may not be functioning optimally; this can be addressed by adding the right dosage of supplemental cannabinoids from the plant cannabis.
Beyond cannabis, however, certain foods and activities can also help the ECS function optimally, improve your health, and enhance the effectiveness of medical cannabis.
Endocannabinoid-Enhancing Foods (kizilkayaphotos/iStock)
Essential fatty acids, chocolate, herbs, spices, and tea can naturally stimulate the ECS.
Essential Fatty Acids
A healthy ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can enhance the activity of the ECS. Endocannabinoids are produced from arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. Having enough arachidonic acid is essential for endocannabinoid production, but having too much may lead to down-regulation of cannabinoid receptors. (Excessive omega-6 intake is also pro-inflammatory. Most western diets already contain an excess of omega-6 oils, commonly found in cooking oils such as safflower, sunflower,