CannPal is also researching phytonutrients which science is now showing us to be “Cannabimimetic” compounds which are reported as having similar pharmacological effects to those of cannabis; applied to various cannabinoid receptor types including the most commonly known cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2, along with the less known TRPV family and GRP55.

There are several common plants that contain cannabimimetic compounds which can mimick the biological activity of the classical cannabinoids, despite not sharing their structure. Cannabimimetics are of increasing importance within medicinal cannabinoid research and human/animal nutrition.

While cannabis has been an important tool in the herbalist’s arsenal and the medical pharmacopoeia for millennia, it has only been in the past twenty-five years that science has provided a better understanding of its myriad of benefits. Through the identification of the receptors and cannabinoids, and a better understanding of how they interact, researchers are learning more about these other potential plants and cannabimimetic compounds that have similar effects to cannabis which can be leverage in the diet or through the development of new and novel therapeutic products.

As an example of cannabimimetic compounds, the most well-known include Coneflower (Echinacea), Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Cannabimimetic compounds aren’t the same as those found in Cannabis, yet they have positive effects on the endocannabinoid system and CannPal is seeking to leverage its growing knowledge of these compounds to develop new and innovative plant derived compounds that are shared with cannabis that can provide optimal health and wellbeing in animals via the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

As our understanding of the ECS has grown, so too has the number and type of different compounds that act on the receptors. Other compounds thought to be cannabmimimetic include

Essential Fatty Acids
A healthy ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can enhance the activity of the ECS.[1] 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, corn, and soy, and in animal products like meat, poultry, and eggs.)

Omega-3 fatty acids are needed to balance the omega-6 fats so the ECS can function properly. These fatty acids are much harder to come by in the diet, and are also proven to have cardiovascular and neurological health benefits. An ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in the diet is 1:1, and the typical western diet often has a 1:10 ratio. Animal sources of omega-3 are the most potent, but the vegetarian sources tend to provide other excellent health benefits.

Sources of endocannabinoid-enhancing fatty acids:

– Hemp seeds and hemp oil
– Flax seeds (grind at home in a coffee grinder) and flax oil
– Chia seeds
– Walnuts
– Sardines and anchovies
– Eggs (pasture-fed or omega-3 enriched only)
Herbs and Tea
Numerous herbs and teas contain compounds that can enhance the ECS. Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene found in black pepper, lemon balm, hops, cloves, cannabis, oregano, cinnamon, and several other herbs. It selectively stimulates the CB2 receptor, a sought-after property in the development of treatments for inflammatory disorders. Others include:

– Echinacea, often used by herbalists for up to two weeks to stimulate the immune system during infections, also contains CB2 agonists.
– Camelia sinensis, commonly known as “tea,” contains a compound that prevents the breakdown of endocannabinoids, and another compound that may stimulate the cannabinoid receptors.
– Turmeric, the yellow spice in curry powder, contains curcumin, which also raises endocannabinoid levels amongst numerous other health benefits.
Frankincense (Boswellia Carterii)
Frankincense displays properties in humans resembling those of Cannabis (the cannabinoid tetrad of analgesia, hypothermia, catalepsy, hypomotility), as well as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiseptic effects. Subsequently, in a 2008 study, Incensole acetate, an incense component, elicits psycho-activity by activating TRPV3 channels in the brain, researchers stated, “We examined Boswellia extract for the presence of novel bioactive components and isolated incensole acetate (IA) as a major active constituent of Boswellia resin. IA showed an anti-inflammatory action as well as several CNS-associated activities, but has not been previously evaluated for its psycho-activity“. IA demonstrated potent agonism at TRPV3, producing feelings or warmth in skin and mind, anxiolytic and anti-depressant effects, as well as nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) inhibition with neuro-protective effects after brain trauma.
Hops (Humulus lupulus)
A very important terpene found in Cannabis and one that is also a major constituent of the essential oil of Hops is Myrcene. Although it is not thought that Myrcene directly acts on the cannabinoid receptors, it is now known its biological activity alters the neuro-active effect of THC. Myrcene is known to be present in high levels in Cannabis strains that exert what is commonly called a ‘couch-lock’ effect on the user.

The sedative effects of Myrcene-containing plants such as Hops and Verbena (officinalis) have been knownfile_thymus-vulgare for millennia and it is now thought the sedative effect is due to Myrcene’s ability to agonise (activate) the opioid receptors and studies have shown the opioid antagonist naxalone blocks Myrcene’s effects, suggesting Myrcene is an agonist. Thus, although Myrcene isn’t typically classed as a cannabinoid in the currently existing scientific literature, it certainly is cannabimimetic. Myrcene is found in extremely high concentrations in Hop oil, almost 80% in some varieties and found in high levels in Mangoes (Mangifera), Lemongrass (Cymbopogon), Thyme (Thymus vulgare) and Verbena
Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
Maca, a radish relative and foodstuff of the high Andes sometimes called ‘Peruvian ginseng’ for its use as an adaptogen, contains long-chain fatty acid N-benzylamides dubbed ‘macamides’, two of which showed reversible FAAH inhibition. It was conjectured the structure of these natural compounds would allow passage through the blood–brain barrier and that despite their low potency, regular consumption could produce alterations in amide signaling in the CNS, but this remains to be determined. The cannabimimetic action is not unlike CBD, which performs many functions in the body including blocking enzyme FAAH. Preventing the breakdown of endocannabinoids increases the amount of them in your system. This can cause a cascade of effects, including mood stabilisation. N-benzylamines improve endocannabinoid tone, boosting the system overall.