Yes, that’s right. And you may already be familiar with some of these non-cannabis plants such as ginger, echinacea and clove oil. Non-cannabis plants can mimic the activity of cannabinoids but have a different structure called cannabimimetic compounds and may be more effective at activating the endocannabinoid system than CBD alone. This is especially great news for individuals who are unable to take CBD or who want to avoid the stigma of cannabis and hemp.
First, it’s important to understand the endocannabinoid system or ECS. You may be familiar with this relatively new term but still confused about what it is exactly. The endocannabinoid system is 600-million-years old, but only recently discovered in the late ’80s by a scientist researching the cannabis plant. What researchers found was an intricate and intelligent receptor-site system located throughout the body that’s responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles, mood, anxiety and stress, metabolism, energy, pain and inflammation, brain health and much more.
Now that you know a little more about how the ECS works, let’s dive into how CBD interacts with this system and affects the body. Your endocannabinoid system requires “activators” called cannabinoids. Some cannabinoids are produced naturally in your body, called endocannabinoids and others are derived from plants (like hemp or cannabis) called phytocannabinoids. These cannabinoids bind to receptor sites (CB1 and CB2) like a key does to a lock and may release an intricate cascade of neurotransmitters that communicate vital information to cells, tissues, organs, and glands critical to maintaining optimal health and homeostasis. However, scientists have discovered hundreds of non-cannabis and non-hemp plants that also contain healing phytocannabinoids that can activate and support the endocannabinoid system. This means you can achieve the same results with other options.
Did you say Non-Cannabis Cannabinoids?
Drug testing has become common in many workplaces, and mandatory for those in federal positions, law enforcement, aviation, health and emergency medical care, and athletics (particularly those tested for banned substances). What many CBD users don’t realize is that trace amounts of THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis) can be found in CBD products, posing a potential risk of a positive drug test.
While it has nothing to do with getting “high,” the ECS is an incredibly important system that plays an integral part in the regulation, maintenance, and balance of optimal health and healing. “The ECS with its actions in our immune system, nervous system, and all the body’s organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind,” says Dustin Sulak, DO.
So, what do you do if you’re drug tested in your profession, but still want to experience the health benefits of CBD? You can either avoid the substance altogether or you can take a safe CBD alternative that works on your endocannabinoid system better than CBD alone.
Here’s a short list of some of the most powerful herbs and botanicals containing phytocannabinoids that can play a key role in your health.
CBD works by affecting the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles, mood, anxiety, stress, metabolism, inflammation, pain, brain health, etc.—basically everything related to our health. It has nothing to do with being “high.” Still, it’s an important system which plays an integral part in regulation, maintenance, balance, and optimal health. It remains in the immune system, nervous system, and every organ.
While CBD has been shown to be quite effective in the treatment of a myriad of conditions that we’ve mentioned above, it’s not the only “natural” solution. In fact, there are plenty of non-cannabis plants that can mimic the functions of cannabinoids. According to Dr. Rose, these may have a similar effect, but may not prove to be as potent as CBD alone. “This is primarily because manufacturers typically standardize their product to contain a certain percentage of CBD,” she says. “Herbal medicine is very complex as one plant can contain hundreds of compounds that work in concert to elicit the desired therapeutic effect.” This is why most herbalists and naturopathic practitioners like Dr. Rose tend to use whole plant products—to allow the plant components to act synergistically.
How CBD Stacks Up to Its Alternatives
Ginger root is very well known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cannabinoid properties. “It can help relieve pain associated with syndromes such as knee arthritis and premenstrual syndrome,” explains Dr. Rose. “It’s also used in pregnancy to combat nausea and vomiting.”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years, chances are you’ve at least heard about CBD, short for cannabidiol. It’s one of the hundreds of active ingredients in cannabis (aka marijuana) and hemp. One of its main benefits, according to Olivia Rose, ND, a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, Canada, is that it doesn’t cause the ‘high’ feeling you’d typically get from using products containing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). “Research on the use of CBD for many health conditions is growing and it seems to have a wide range of potential use, from pain syndromes to insomnia, anxiety and even difficult-to-treat childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS),” she says. “CBD is becoming a viable alternative in cases where patients have exhausted the potential of pharmaceutical medications and other natural treatments.”
Deep breaths. You got this.