Cannabidiol (CBD) is being talked about around dinner tables and in shopping queues. It’s taken the world by storm and there’s still so much for us to learn.
CBD is a cannabinoid that is found naturally in the cannabis plant. For legal use in the UK it is harvested from a variety of cannabis called hemp.
Hemp contains higher levels of CBD and very low levels of THC. It is the THC that gives cannabis its psychoactive properties. For CBD products to be legal in the UK they must contain less than 0.2% THC.
How do we benefit from CBD?
CBD works by interacting with our endocannabinoid system. This can give you a feeling of relaxation or even reduce pain symptoms.
CBD is not the only way to get these positive effects from your body.
Our bodies have their own type of cannabinoids called endocannabinoids. They are found naturally in our bodies and they help your body to regulate itself more efficiently. This results in better health and wellness.
What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
Endocannabinoid system refers to the endocannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids found naturally in your body.
Spread throughout your central and peripheral nervous system are endocannabinoid receptors. These are chemical sites where cannabinoids can interact with your body.
Once these receptors have been stimulated they interact with your homeostatic mechanism. This is the actions that your body uses to keep everything in balance. It is responsible for maintaining your body temperature, water content and many other things.
If your homeostatic mechanism works well it will help keep you healthy and even prevent disease. The interactions of cannabinoids with the endocannabinoid receptors allow your body’s homeostatic response to occur quickly and smoothly. The results of which can be anything from a feeling of well-being to a reduction of disease symptoms.
To stimulate your endocannabinoid receptors you first need cannabinoids. Cannabinoids were named after the Cannabis plant. Each cannabis plant contains over 60 different types of cannabinoids. Each of them stimulates a different effect when they interact with your body.
However, your body also creates its own cannabinoids. These are called endocannabinoids and at the moment we know of two of them: anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).
They are created by your body and in different situations they interact with your receptors and support your homeostatic mechanism.
The endocannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoids themselves make up your Endocannabinoid system.
Your body’s natural endocannabinoids
Anandamide and 2-AG are both found in the body.
You are probably already aware of the effect of anandamide. The exhilaration you feel after exercise is anandamide interacting with endocannabinoid receptors.
Both endocannabinoids can be boosted in a number of ways. Enabling your body to create more of them and stimulating their use can improve your health, happiness and possibly disease resistance.
Not only is boosting your ECS good for you, it can be great fun too.
3 Endocannabinoid Boosting Recipes
Chocolate is a source of the endocannabinoid anandamide. There are very few external sources of this chemical so let’s put it to good use.
These no bake brownies are tasty and great for you.
Chocolate is also filled with antioxidants and flavonoids so it can have some really great effects on your well-being in many ways. We have used cacao nibs in this recipe. If you can’t get hold of any you could replace them with more cocoa powder or dairy free chocolate chunks.
Vegan Chocolate Nib Brownies
200g dates, pitted
135 g ground walnuts
100g ground almonds
25g ground pistachios
100g cocoa powder
30g cacao nibs
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
Add the ground nuts and the dates into a food processor. Pulse it until the mixture has come together. Add in the cocoa powder. Pulse to combine again.
In a large mixing add this mixture, melted coconut oil, cacao nibs, and the remaining ingredients.
Stir the mixture together.
In a lined (with parchment paper) 7×7 square pan, pour the brownie mixture in and start to evenly press down until you form a brownie layer.
Chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Cut into squares and enjoy.
It is believed that olive oil can reduce the breakdown of 2-AG in your body. This will leave higher levels to interact with your ECS.
There are lots of great ways to use olive oil in your diet but this is one of my favourites.
If you really want to give your ECS a treat why not add some drops of CBD oil to the dressing.
Pomegranate and Quinoa Superfood Salad
250g purple sprouting broccoli cut into chunks
175g soya/edamame beans
250g cooked quinoa
100g baby spinach
A handful mixed, chopped herbs (parsley, basil, coriander or mint all work well)
100g pomegranate seeds
100g toasted pumpkin seeds
For the dressing
zest and juice of 1 lime
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil.
Add the broccoli to the pan and cook for 2 mins, then add the soya beans and cook for 1-2 mins more.
Drain the vegetables and leave them to cool.
Add the dressing ingredients and some seasoning to a bowl.
Halve, stone and peel the avocados, then cut them into chunks and add to the bowl.
Add the quinoa, spinach, herbs, half of the pomegranate and pumpkin seeds and the cooked vegetables to the bowl.
Gently toss everything together. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl, scatter with the remaining seeds and serve.
Foods that are rich in flavonoids may help to stop the breakdown of anandamide in the body. Flavonoids are found in nearly all fruit and veg, particularly colourful ones. A meal with lots of different colours of veg will deliver you a great helping of flavonoids.
Foil Packed Salmon and Rainbow Veg
For 2 people
1 red onion, diced
1 yellow pepper, cut into chunks
240g baby carrots
300g cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
10 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic
For the Salmon
2 large pieces of salmon fillet
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 pinch paprika
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic
Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
Place red onion, broccoli, yellow bell pepper, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes evenly on a baking tray. You can mix them all up but we prefer to arrange them in colourful rainbow rows.
Season with olive oil, salt, and pepper (to taste).
Add sprigs of thyme and slices of garlic on top of the vegetables.
Tear off two pieces of aluminium foil, approximately 30 x 30 cm.
Lay down the foil and place the salmon in the centre for each one.
Season both sides of the salmon with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika (all to taste).
Add sprigs of thyme and slices of garlic on top of each fillet.
Bring the top and bottom edge of the foil into the centre and fold a couple of times. Fold in the left and right sides a couple of times to seal the foil pack.
Place all 4 foil packs on a baking tray.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Endocannabinoids play a big role in our lives and our health. Now that you know how to get them to work for you, you can give them a boost and enjoy feeling healthy and relaxed.