Canna oil isn’t the only oil that affects the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and boosts your health and wellness. Bad fats work against a good diet and can even have a mixed impact on your cannabis experience. Basically, nutrition and the endocannabinoid system go hand in hand.
Wake and bake — A breakfast story
A system of receptors — the ECS — responds after a good wake and bake. The body and brain then flood with neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids. Accordingly, these neurotransmitters are poly-unsaturated fatty acids and in the same family as healthy Omega-6 fats. (1, 2) Because of this similarity, breakfast decisions impact the neurotransmitters triggered by cannabis constituents and the whole ECS.
Unique chemovars of cannabis will provide a certain set of (pharmacodynamic) effects due to different levels of various constituents like cannabinoids and terpenes. (3) Additionally, various food choices might contribute to this same (hypothetical) entourage effect even in the absence of a cannabis diet.
The wake and bake can be remarkable due to the body’s metabolic state after a night of fasting during sleep. Not surprisingly, morning provides a fresh slate for cannabinoids to bind to receptors and interact with the ECS. Just remember that good or bad breakfast choices will impact how that wake and bake will feel two hours later.
Burning out the endocannabinoid system with fat
What goes up must come down — a motto that applies to cannabis, but not every high comes with burnout. THC-forward (type 1) cannabis, for example, will unlock and express with endocannabinoids that eventually degrade into molecules that promote inflammation. In comparison, different types of fat found in both our daily diets and endocannabinoids degrade into the same pro-inflammatory agents.
Homeostasis lies between endocannabinoids, their precursors, and especially the metabolites they produce. Although, polyunsaturated fats get some bad press for creating the inflammatory agent arachidonic acid. However, arachidonic acid turns into endocannabinoids, which increase ECS tone. In the big picture, this benefits both homeostasis and good health.
Endocannabinoids fit into what category of fat?
Endocannabinoids are technically polyunsaturated fats, so let us explore what makes fat so unique.
Different fatty acids — a long chain of aliphatic molecules that can be either saturated or unsaturated — are the building blocks of fat. Each molecule in a fatty acid is either connected by a single or a double (electron) bond. The presence and position of these molecular bonds characterize each fatty acid and impact their overall function, similar to cannabinoid isomers. Unsaturated fatty acids must contain two molecules bound by a pair of electrons (double bond.) Whereas saturated fats are held together by a single electron between each molecule.
Cannabinoids are polyunsaturated because they contain multiple double bonds. Not surprisingly, a diet more acute in unsaturated fat reduces heart disease, diabetes and death. (4)
Endocannabinoids beyond humans and cannabis
Diet accentuates endocannabinoid health and the cannabis experience in many ways other than just fat. Some foods contain the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide as well as related therapeutic botanical molecules. Moreover, certain ingredients will at least interact with and, in some cases, protect the ECS. Truffles, for example, contain small amounts of anandamide. Maca root and chocolate contain not only endocannabinoid relative oleoylethanolamide (OEA), they inhibit the degradation of anandamide. (6)
Furthermore, different sugars act on the ECS and ultimately affect cannabis activity as well as overall wellness. We discussed sugar and leptin in a previous report by this author. In summary, glucose interacts with and blocks cannabinoid receptor activity in the peripheral nervous system as it metabolizes.
Lastly, the sluggish feeling after a big greasy meal and the sugar crash both depend on endocannabinoid activity. So, don’t be surprised that diet influences the quality of your cannabis experience. Conclusively, endocannabinoid health acts as a pivot point for physical and mental wellness, but it is far more diverse than a few puffs or a nighttime gummy.
Let us know your best cannabis diet in the comments. And stay tuned to learn more about how exercise affects the endocannabinoid system.
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- Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, competes inversely with arachidonic acid.
- Linoleic acid metabolizes into arachidonic acid then to anandamide, before breaking back down into arachidonic acid.
- Polyunsaturated fats are supported by good enzyme and enzyme inhibitors to keep arachidonic acid in check while holding onto anandamide and OEA.
- Palmitic acid is a precursor for Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), an ECS relative that promotes PPARs which in turn promotes health and regulates lipid homeostasis.
- Palmitic acid can be detrimental to the heart in large doses but might cause some mixed reports from high saturated fat foods and heart disease due to PEA.
- Komarnytsky, S.; Rathinasabapathy, T.; Wagner, C.; Metzger, B.; Carlisle, C.; Panda, C.; Le Brun-Blashka, S.; Troup, J.P.; Varadharaj, S. Endocannabinoid System and Its Regulation by Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Full Spectrum Hemp Oils. Int. J. Mol. Sci 2021, 22, 5479.
- Alvheim, A. R., Torstensen, B. E., Lin, Y. H., Lillefosse, H. H., Lock, E. J., Madsen, L., Frøyland, L., Hibbeln, J. R., & Malde, M. K. (2014). Dietary linoleic acid elevates the endocannabinoids 2-AG and anandamide and promotes weight gain in mice fed a low fat diet. Lipids, 49(1), 59–69.
- LaVigne, J.E., Hecksel, R., Keresztes, A. et al. Cannabis sativa terpenes are cannabimimetic and selectively enhance cannabinoid activity. Sci Rep 11, 8232 (2021).
- Bhatt, D. L., Steg, P. G., Miller, M., Brinton, E. A., Jacobson, T. A., Ketchum, S. B., Doyle, R. T., Jr, Juliano, R. A., Jiao, L., Granowitz, C., Tardif, J. C., Ballantyne, C. M., & REDUCE-IT Investigators (2019). Cardiovascular Risk Reduction with Icosapent Ethyl for Hypertriglyceridemia. The New England journal of medicine, 380(1), 11–22.
- Nicholls, S. J., Lincoff, A. M., Garcia, M., Bash, D., Ballantyne, C. M., Barter, P. J., Davidson, M. H., Kastelein, J., Koenig, W., McGuire, D. K., Mozaffarian, D., Ridker, P. M., Ray, K. K., Katona, B. G., Himmelmann, A., Loss, L. E., Rensfeldt, M., Lundström, T., Agrawal, R., Menon, V., … Nissen, S. E. (2020). Effect of High-Dose Omega-3 Fatty Acids vs Corn Oil on Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events in Patients at High Cardiovascular Risk: The STRENGTH Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 324(22), 2268–2280.
- Russo E. B. (2016). Beyond Cannabis: Plants and the Endocannabinoid System. Trends in pharmacological sciences, 37(7), 594–605.