Although cannabinoids are named after the cannabis plant, cannabis is not the only cannabinoid or chemical that interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Research dating back more than 40 years has demonstrated that a variety of plants can have significant effects on the ECS, and more recent research has shown that some of these plants can produce their own phytocannabinoids. Shown.
First dietary cannabinoid: beta-caryophyllene
Even though preliminary research done decades ago suggested that some plants could affect the ECS, the first edible cannabinoids, or cannabinoids that are not cannabinoids, interact with the ECS. It took until 2008 to properly identify what works and is part of the normal human diet. Jürg Gertsch led a team of researchers investigating the effects of: β-caryophyllene (BCP), “The main sesquiterpene that contributes to the pungency of black pepper”, the main terpene found in cloves, hops, rosemary, and cannabis.as their pioneer studyGertsch et al. found that although BCP has a completely different structure than cannabinoids, BCP interacts with CB2 receptors in a cannabinoid-like manner, producing a variety of potential medical benefits. Did.
Olive oil and ECS
2008 appears to have been a big year for research into cannabimimetic compounds (non-cannabinoids that interact with the ECS). Researchers studying olive oil I made some surprising discoveries. They argue that “short-term feeding is [a] A Mediterranean diet high in monounsaturated fats, a diet high in saturated fats, or a diet high in polyunsaturated fats can affect tissue levels of endocannabinoids. ” By 2014, Italian cannabinoid researcher Mauro Maccarone found “Adding olive oil to an animal’s diet can restore normal CB-1 receptor levels, which protect cells from cancer.” Next up study To advance our understanding of the effects of olive oil on the ECS, we found that “olive oil was able to significantly induce the expression of CB2 receptors and control inflammatory and proliferative activities,” further benefiting against cancer. was suggested.
These effects were so appealing that by 2019, the father of cannabis research, Rafael Mechoulam, was conducting his own research. He told MG Magazine: interview“I found the derivative. [of olive oil] —Anandamide-like compound—This is definitely a very powerful anti-osteoporosis compound. ” His findings suggest that the cannabis-mimetic compounds found in olive oil are powerful not only against inflammation and cancer, but also against osteoporosis.
Last week, a study released, provides the latest information on “endocannabinoid-like mediators” contained in olive oil. Their findings suggest that olive oil not only helps balance the gut microbiome, but may also help prevent overeating.
Wool umbrella: a promising alternative
Earlier this year, the internet was abuzz with stories about the woolly plant’s incredible ability to produce more than 40 different cannabinoids. Although this falls short of the more than 100 known phytocannabinoids found in cannabis, it is the most cannabinoids produced by plants other than cannabis, and provides a new and unique way to obtain cannabinoids.Also called wool umbrella Helichrysum umbraculigerum, a perennial herb native to South Africa with velvety yellow flowers, commonly used as an ornamental plant in horticulture related to daisies, sunflowers and lettuce. Woolly umbrella is not related to cannabis, but interestingly, the biochemical pathway used to synthesize cannabinoids is the same.
Woolen umbrellas have long been burned in folk rituals to release intoxicating smoke. That may be why German scientists studied it more than 40 years ago and found evidence that it could produce cannabinoids. This finding could not be reproduced until this year’s publication. study. Specifically, the researchers found six cannabinoids identical to those found in cannabis, including CBG, although they did not find THC or CBD. CBG is derived from CBGa, which can also be THCA, CBDA, and CBCA (which can also be converted to THC, CBD, and CBC), so it’s not unreasonable to expect to find THC or CBD. In addition to the known cannabinoids found in woolen caps, researchers have discovered more than 30 new phytocannabinoids.
Algae, yeast, and bacteria: the cutting edge of cannabis-free cannabinoids
We’ve talked about natural cannabinoids and cannabinoid mimetics found in plants, but what about cutting-edge scientific efforts to fine-tune plants, fungi, and bacteria to produce cannabinoids?
A team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, has come up with the idea of tweaking brewer’s yeast to brew something much more interesting than just alcohol: cannabinoids. In 2019 they announced “Complete biosynthesis of cannabinoids and their non-natural analogues in yeast” effectively converts simple sugars into cannabinoids. In other words, spinning gold from straw. Simply put, they engineered yeast to incorporate cannabis genes and produce the chemical precursors needed to make cannabinoids. “The benefit for consumers is high quality, low cost CBD and THC. You get exactly what you want from yeast.” Jay Keislinga scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, says, “This is a safer and more environmentally friendly way to produce cannabinoids.” 2022 survey Another group of researchers noted that this type of manipulation can be performed not only in yeast but also in bacteria. At least one of his companies, Hyasynth Bio, is attempting to bring products made using yeast-derived cannabinoids to market.
While it may not sound as appealing as using brewer’s yeast as a starting point, multiple research teams are fine-tuning algae to produce cannabinoids. As of 2018, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted at least one patent. application About “How cannabinoids are produced in algae.” In 2020, a team of researchers based at the University of Quebec partnered with the Canadian government to announced They “demonstrated for the first time that cannabinoids can be successfully grown in microalgae.” Although algae are large enough to be seen with the naked eye, microalgae are single-celled organisms that can be prokaryotic (such as cyanobacteria) or eukaryotic (such as green algae).
Even more sources of cannabis mimics
This article focuses on black pepper, olive oil, woolly umbrella, engineered algae and yeast, but is not a complete list of non-cannabis sources of things that interact with the ECS.
Gertsch, the same researcher who identified BCP as a dietary cannabinoid, followed up on his 2008 study with the following: another Two years later, it took a deep dive into plants containing cannabis mimics. Back in the 1990s, some compounds in chocolate were shown to inhibit the breakdown of anandamide, providing benefits for the ECS. Soon after, it was demonstrated that some alkamides in echinacea interact with her CB2 receptors. These benefits of chocolate and echinacea on the ECS were further supported by additional research in the early 2000s. Common roux and cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli) have been shown to contain the anti-carcinogenic metabolite 3,3′-diindolylmethane, which interacts with CB2 receptors. . The hallucinogenic herb Salvia divinorum was also found to have an “indirect cannabis-mimetic effect on CB1,” but its mechanism of action is unknown. lastly, 2018 survey They found that the chemicals in liverwort “resemble THC in 3D shape and can bind to many of the same cannabinoid receptors as THC.”
Even though there are so many ways to produce cannabinoids from sources other than the cannabis plant, there is still no method that is used in large quantities on the market. It’s only a matter of time before consumers need to consider not only cannabis- or hemp-derived products, but also cannabinoids from yeast, bacteria, algae, and even woolly umbrellas.