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15 Ways To Support Your Endocannabinoid System Naturally

15 Ways To Support Your Endocannabinoid System Naturally

If you’ve just started here, go back and read at least our first blog, an introduction to the endocannabinoid system.

 

In it, we talk about how your endocannabinoid system is the body’s most complicated signalling system. It talks to many other systems in the body and helps to keep our health in balance - homeostasis. Our body naturally produces endcannabinoids that key into cannabinoid receptors (think of them as locks). These locks and keys make up your endocannabinoid system, which can influence appetite, pain, inflammation, sleep, stress responses, moodmemory, motivation, reward and more.

 

It’s easy to stimulate and support your endocannabinoid system naturally, which can lead to a number of health benefits including:

 

  • Less stress and anxiety 
     
  • Improved mood and increased feelings of pleasure and optimism
     
  • Better focus and concentration
     
  • Less hyperactivity and impulsivity
     
  • Higher BDNF levels (which promotes nerve growth in the brain)
     
  • Increased rate of neurogenesis (brain cell birth)
     
  • Increased myelin formation 
     
  • Deeper sleep
     
  • Lower cortisol levels (reducing stress hormones)
     
  • Fewer headaches and migraines
     
  • Reduced activity in the amygdala, the fear centre of the brain
     
  • Reduced inflammation

 

So without further ado, 15 ways to stimulate and support your endocannabinoid system naturally.

 

1. Cold Exposure

Cold exposure has been shown to increase endocannabinoid levels.

Researchers have also found that cold exposure significantly increases the density of CB1 neurons (2). Cold exposure also stimulates the vagus nerve which we know connects the gut and the brain.

 

TO TAKE ACTION:

Try swimming in cold water or finishing your shower with 30 seconds of cold water.

 

2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive oil has numerous health benefits, particularly because of its strong anti-inflammatory effects with oleic acid - oleic acid reduces blood pressure, increases fat burning to help with weight loss, protects cells from free radical damage, may prevent type 2 diabetes, prevents ulcerative colitis and generates brain myelin and protective antioxidants polyphenols.

It’s also been shown to upregulate CB1 receptors.

TO TAKE ACTION

Buy the best quality extra virgin olive oil you can afford - we love Cobram Estate.

 

3Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active cannabinoids in cannabis. It is not psychoactive but has a wide range of medical applications. Research shows that CBD enhances the expression of CB1 receptors in the brain. It also increases levels of 2-AG by preventing it from breaking down.

 

TO TAKE ACTION:

At Hemple we’ve developed our proprietary EndoC formulation in our new Omega product. EndoC is a full spectrum nanoparticualised CBD & CBG isolate (a precursory cannabinoid to CBD and THC), designed to act fast for managing daily stress and achieving a good night’s sleep.

CBD is legal as a food supplement in the UK, Europe and the USA. Check your local regulatory framework before ordering.

 

4. Fruits and vegetables

Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant compounds found in almost all fruits and vegetables. Chocolate, tea, wine, and some beans, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds also contain flavinoids. Overall, the more colourful a food is, the richer it is in flavonoids.

 

TO TAKE ACTION

It sounds corny, but we’re saying it anyway… EAT THE RAINBOW. A good tip is to consume fruits and vegetables in their raw forms to receive the highest number of flavonoids, as flavonoids are reduced with cooking.

 

5. Tea

Tea contains catechins, which are antioxidant compounds that have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.

Researchers have found that catechins in tea target and bind to cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system.

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most well known catechin. It’s found in green tea.

Drinking tea can also lower cortisol, and green tea increases BDNF (brain cell growth factors).

 

TO TAKE ACTION

Drink green tea - we opt for a ceremonial grade organic Japanese matcha, like Matcha Maiden.

 

6. Osteopathy

Osteopathy is a healing modality that emphasises the treatment of disease by manipulating and massaging the bones, joints, and muscles. 

One study found that endocannabinoid levels increased by 168% on average after osteopathic treatment. 

TO TAKE ACTION


Osteopathy is often covered by health care insurance. If you have pre-existing conditions we always suggest speaking to your doctor before trying a new therapy.

7. Probiotics

Research suggests that some probiotics can support the endocannabinoid system. In one study, researchers found that a specific strain of probiotic, lactobacillus acidophilus, increases the activity of CB2 receptors (53). 

Probiotics have also been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve which links your gut and brain and may help with depression

 

TO TAKE ACTION

Find a high quality probiotic.
Remember our gut bacteria is about a unique as our fingerprint so a probiotic that works for one person may not for another. For us, the gold standard is to work with a local functional medicine doctor who can test your current state and advise on an appropriate course of probiotics.

 

8Dark Chocolate

Most people know dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, such as flavonols and polyphenols, which reduce oxidative stress. But you may not know , it also contains the endocannabinoid anandamide.

And it includes other compounds that slow down the breakdown of anandamide, increasing the amount of anandamide that stimulates your endocannabinoid system. Researchers at the Neurosciences Institute of San Diego were able to back up the claims that chocolate does contain three compounds that act as healing cannabinoids.

That’s why eating delicious, organic dark chocolate can give you the sensation of being relaxed and happy.

TO TAKE ACTION

Know your chocolate! Opt for a 90%+ dark organic chocolate like Alter Eco or a bulk foods alternative.

 

9. Reduce Stress

Emotional stress has been shown to decrease CB1 receptor activity. 

High cortisol levels for extended periods, such as those caused by chronic stress, also reduces CB1 receptors and significantly reduces cannabinoid binding to CB1 receptors.

Overall, researchers say there is strong evidence that the endocannabinoid system as a whole is required in order to properly deal with stress.

TO TAKE ACTION:

Take time to wind down - take a walk, do exercise you enjoy, don’t look at your phone for an hour before bed, mediate. Some supplements that can help you reduce stress include CBD, zincmagnesium, rhodiola, ashwagandha.

 

10. Exercise

Medium and high-intensity exercise has been shown to activate the endocannabinoid system.

Research also shows that exercise significantly upregulates CB1 receptors and enhances CB1 receptor sensitivity, which is why exercise can protect against the consequences of stress.

Exercise-related improvements in memory are also due to activation of the CB1 receptor. Blocking this receptor seems to prevent the memory benefits of exercise.

Several studies also show that exercise increases levels of anandamide and activates cannabinoid signalling.

And researchers now believe that endocannabinoids may actually be responsible for the “runner’s high” (euphoria) during exercise, and not endorphins. 

 

TO TAKE ACTION:

Many brain health experts recommend exercise as their number one piece of advice for optimal brain health. 

Do exercise you enjoy. Forced exercise is seen by the endocannabinoid system as a type of stress, and therefore doesn’t increase endocannabinoid levels and can actually decrease CB1 signalling. 

 

11. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that your body cannot produce itself. They are necessary for the normal electrical functioning of your brain and nervous system.

Research shows that they increase the synthesis of endocannabinoids and upregulate both CB1 and CB2 receptors. 

There is also a connection between low omega-3 fatty acid intake, poor endocannabinoid function and mood changes.

 

TO TAKE ACTION:

Omega-3 fatty acids are found primarily in cold water fish and fish roe (find sustainably caught, wild salmon or ocean trout) but are also present in plant sources such as hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, flax and chia.

 

12. Nuts and seeds

Agmatine is a metabolite of the amino acid arginine which is found in high levels in nuts and seeds. It can help reduce pain, treat drug addiction, and protect the brain from toxins. 

It has been shown to enhance the painkilling effects of cannabinoids. It does this by increasing cannabinoid action and signalling through the CB1 receptor. 

TO TAKE ACTION:

Eat nuts and seeds like hemp seeds

 

13. Herbs and spices

Caryophyllene is a compound found in many plants and essential oils, including clove, rosemary, basil, oregano, lavender, black caraway, basil, cinnamon, copaiba oil and hops. It also contributes to the spiciness of black pepper. 

Caryophyllene has been shown to have anti inflammatory, neuroprotectiveantidepressantanti-anxiety and anti-alcoholism effects. 

These effects are likely because it binds to the cannabinoid receptors. 

It can also help reduce neuropathic pain through the CB2 receptor.

TO TAKE ACTION:

Season your food with these herbs and spices or diffuse as essential oils.

 

14. Echinacea

Echinacea is one of the most popular medicinal herbs, traditionally used by Native Americans. You’ve probably used it to shorten the duration of a cold or help reduce flu sympotms. It is sometimes used to reduce anxiety and relieve fatigue as well.

Compounds in Echinacea, called alkylamides, have been shown to reduce inflammation by binding to the CB2 receptor. Researchers have also found that alkylamides increase the effect of endocannabinoids. 

TO TAKE ACTION

Find a good quality echinacea supplement.

 

15. Cruciferous veg

Diindolylmethane (DIM) is an anti-carcinogenic compound found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale.

Studies show that DIM reduces inflammation because it binds to CB2 receptors. 

TO TAKE ACTION:

If you weren’t eating your kale for it’s iron or broccoli for the sulphurane, here’s twice the reason to!

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