Phytocannabinoids: With the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) during the 1980s provided researchers a new perspective on the compounds in hemp and marijuana identified 40 years before. And one of the new perspectives was how these compounds interacted with the human body.
Phytocannabinoids: (Phyto) – For Plant Was The Name Given To These Compounds
Over 80 phytocannabinoids have been identified in marijuana and hemp. The psychoactive phytocannabinoid in marijuana known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) represents only one of the many phytocannabinoids being studied for its health benefits.1
The more science learns about the effects of the ECS in supporting brain health, enhancing immune function, maintaining a healthy inflammatory response, and promoting GI health, fertility, bone health, etc. Now there is more interest in finding phytocannabinoids in nature and learning how they affect human health.
Because of this interest, phytocannabinoids have now been identified in many plants outside of the Cannabis species. An example is in plants like clove, black pepper, echinacea, broccoli, ginseng, and carrots.2
Phytocannabinoids In Hemp
Most people have heard of cannabadiol (CBD), but this is only one of many components in hemp that interacts with the ECS.
Two other phytocannabinoids include:
- CBC research began in the 1980’s when it was found that it would act upon a normal inflammatory response in rats.3 Recently CBC has shown to promote brain health,4 skin health,5 and keep normal movement in the digestive system.6
- CBG research focuses on how it supports nervous system health. CBG has multiple jobs in the ECS. These include inhibiting the re-uptake of anandamide. Although still unknown, but CBG could possibly provide support for immune function, skin health, and being in a good mood. And CBG is found in much higher levels in industrial hemp than in marijuana.7
Phytocannabinoids In Other Plants
Current research has found phytocannabionids in many other plants. Some of these include:
- BCP is found in the flowers and leaves of hemp, and since only the hemp stalk is used in supplements, BCP content gets lost. But, BCP is contained in many other plants, i.e. cloves and black pepper. BCP joins itself to the CB2 cannabinoid receptor. This helps maintain a healthy inflammatory response while at the same time promoting health to the digestive system, skin, and liver.8,9
- DIM is a compound that is produced in our bodies when consuming vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. DIM is a readily available dietary supplement. Just like beta-caryophyllene, DIM binds to the CB2 cannabinoid receptor.10 The immune system is abundant in CB2 receptors, this could explain benefits of these foods especially in immune system health.
- Alkylamides also play a role in the ECS, that is generating interest. It is found in the herb Echinacea, These compounds act on the CB2 receptor for regulation of cytokine synthes is and immune function support.11 This helps explain the common uses of Echinacea.
- Falcarinol is found in carrots, celery, parsley, and Panax or Asian ginseng. Falcarinol compound binds to the CB1 cannabinoid receptor but has the opposite effect of anandamide. Because of this, falcarinol can cause allergic skin reactions due to the blocking of our own ECS from regulating local inflammation.12
- This phytocannabinoid is found in the Kava plant (Piper methysticum). This compound binds to CB1 receptors and acts on GABA receptors in the nervous system. Yangonin has shown to promote relaxation and regulate responses to stress, however, it could be unhealthy for the liver.13
Information and knowledge of the endocannabinoid system is growing at a rapid rate. Science and scientists continue their research in order to find more phytocannabinoids in foods/plants that will benefit human health.
- Borgelt L, Franson K, Nussbaum A, Wang G. The pharmacologic and clinical effects of medical cannabis. Pharmacotherapy 2013;33(2):195-209.
- Gertsch J, Roger G, Vincenzo D. Phytocannabinoids beyond the cannabis plant – do they exist? Br J Pharmacol 2010;160(3):523-529.
- Wirth P, Watson E, ElSohly M, et al. Anti-inflammatory properties of cannabichromene. Life Sci 1980;26(23):1991-1995.
- Shinjyo N, Di Marzo V. The effect of cannabichromene on adult neural stem/progenitor cells. Neurochem Int 2013;63(5):432-437.
- Izzo A, Capasso R, Aviello G, et al. Inhibitory effect of cannabichromene, a major non?psychotropic cannabinoid extracted from Cannabis sativa, on inflammation?induced hypermotility in mice. Br J Pharmacol 2012;166(4):1444-1460.
- Oláh A, Markovics A, Szabó?Papp J, et al. Differential effectiveness of selected non?psychotropic phytocannabinoids on human sebocyte functions implicates their introduction in dry/seborrheic skin and acne treatment. Exp Dermatol 2016;25(9):701-707.
- De Meijer E, Hammond K. The inheritance of chemical phenotype in Cannabis sativa L.(II): cannabigerol predominant plants. Euphytica 2005;145(1-2):189-198.
- Gertsch J, Leonti M, Raduner S, et al. Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid. Proc Natl Acad Sci 2008;105(26):9099-9104.
- Klauke A, Racz I, Pradier B, et al. The cannabinoid CB2 receptor-selective phytocannabinoid beta-caryophyllene exerts analgesic effects in mouse models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2014;24(4):608-620.
- Yin H, Chu A, Li W, et al. Lipid G protein-coupled receptor ligand identification using β-arrestin PathHunter™ assay. J Biol Chem 2009;284(18):12328-12338.
- Raduner S, Majewska A, Chen J, et al. Alkylamides from Echinacea are a new class of cannabinomimetics Cannabinoid type 2 receptor-dependent and-independent immunomodulatory effects. J Biol Chem 2006;281(20):14192-14206.
- Leonti M, Casu L, Raduner S, et al. Falcarinol is a covalent cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist and induces pro-allergic effects in skin. Biochem Pharmacol 2010;79(12):1815-1826.
- Tang J, Dunlop R, Rowe A, et al. Kavalactones Yangonin and Methysticin induce apoptosis in human hepatocytes (HepG2) in vitro. Phytother Res 2011;25(3):417-423.