Foods With Cannabinoids: Moving Beyond Cannabis & CBD

foods with cannabinoids

CBD (cannabidiol) is a celebrated natural cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. There are around 66 are cannabinoids in the plant, including CBD, CBN, THC, and CBDA.

These cannabinoids (along with the other compounds – flavanoids, terpenes, etc) are what make cannabis so great. According to numerous (and we mean NUMEROUS) research studies, we know that they’re what provide all those benefits you’ve heard about…

But can you only get cannabinoids from cannabis?

Are there any foods with cannabinoids out there?

Are there Foods with Cannabinoids?

Now, we’ll preface this by saying cannabinoids are defined as the terpenophenolic constituents of Cannabis sativa. Technically speaking, for something to be classified as a cannabinoid, it has to comes from cannabis. So no, there aren’t really any foods with cannabinoids out there.

BUT!!! Don’t leave yet.

There are many herbs and foods out there that mimic cannabinoids. That means that, although the chemicals in these plants are not exactly the same as those found in cannabis, they appear to have positive effects on the human endocannabinoid system.

What’s that you ask? The endocannabinoid system is the network of cannabinoid receptors and corresponding cannabinoids that run through your body. When you take CBD, it interacts with the receptors in the endocannabinoid system.

diet and the endocannabinoid system

While researchers are still exploring just what exactly the ECS does in the human body, early research suggests that this system has many different functions, including regulation of sleep, appetite, immune function, mood, and pain.

So, CBD? Check. It has cannabinoids.

Other foods with cannabinoids? Yes and no…

Top Foods with Cannabinoids (or Sort of…)

1. Rosemary, Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano, and Black Pepper

Beta-caryophyllene (BCP) is one of the most abundant terpenoids found in the cannabis plant. But, it’s not only found in cannabis. It’s also found in many herbs and spices, including rosemart, cinnamon, clove, oregano, and black pepper.

Although BCP is typically a terpene, some refer to it as a dietary cannabinoid. It acts like cannabionoid in that it activates the CB2 receptor in the ES.

Plus, along with engaging with those CB2 receptors, research suggests that BCP may have antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects.

2. Flax seeds

Flax seeds, and the flax plant overall, have many compounds within it that are very similar to cannabinoids. Research shows that the anti-inflammatory properties in flax and its ability to help with triggering an autoimmune response are similar to those in CBD.

3. Echinacea

Perhaps you reach for echinacea when you feel a cold coming on.  It’s best known as an herbal remedy for the common cold or flu. However, it’s also used to treat pain, inflammation, migraine,s and other health issues.

But it’s also a friend to the endocannabinoid system.

Specifically, certain Echinacea species contain cannabimimetic compounds called N-alkylamides (NAAs) that trigger CB2 cannabinoid receptors. The endocannabinoids alkylamides and anandamide (AEA) found in echinacea bind to the CB2 receptor and, much like CBD, have been shown to inhibit inflammation. 

4. Truffles

Research shows that truffles, specifically black truffles, contain anandamide, an endocannabinoid that is naturally produced in the human brain; it regulates mood, memory, appetite, and pain perception. They’re also rich in endocannabinoid metabolic enzymes. Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling in the ES, which has been linked with both mood enhancement and fear reduction.

Anandamide is a brain lipid that binds to cannabinoid receptors and mimics the effects of cannabinoids. Some studies indicate that anandamide is well-equipped with endocannabinoid-binding receptors and releases chemicals that have a similar biological mechanism as THC. That’s why some scientists have even started calling it the “bliss molecule.”

5. Turmeric

Turmeric is an essential, mildly-flavored ingredient popular in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. It’s also widely celebrated, thanks to the beneficial compound curcumin, as a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Curcumin raises endocannabinoid levels in the body, giving your ES a nice little boost! It’s also been shown to be a modulator of tumor cell pharmacointeraction in cannabinoid based therapies for breast cancer!

6. Chocolate (Cacao)

Saved the best for last, didn’t we!

Just like CBD, chocolate contains compounds that interact with a particular enzyme in the body that boosts circulating levels of the body’s natural endocannabinoids. This enzyme is responsible for the breakdown of anandamide in our bodies. Research shows that compounds in cacao appear to block this enzyme, increasing the amount of anandamide in your body. This is why chocolate makes us feel happy, relaxed, and generally good.

Additionally, like truffles, cacao is rich in anandamide. Plant-derived anandamide (like that found in cacao) lingers in your body, drawing out the joyful feeling longer. In fact, alongside cannabis, cacao is the only known plant containing compounds that connect into certain receptor sites in the human brain in a “lock & key” system.

[RELATED] Are there other foods that can help improve how your endocannabinoid system works? Check this out.

Time to Ditch That CBD?

Hold up!

Now, just because these foods may contain valuable phytocannabinoids, stocking up the pantry doesn’t mean you can ditch the CBD.

For the most part, these work synergistically with CBD to help the endocannabinoid system out.

While our bodies naturally make cannabinoids all the time, there’s evidence that some people’s endocannabinoid systems may not be functioning as optimally as they could. Thankfully, we can improve this by taking CBD and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.

In addition to that, though, we can add certain foods, such as those listed above, to help the ES function best, improve overall health, and even enhance the effectiveness of CBD in general.