Spices for Healthy Endocannabinoid System

Spice it up in the Kitchen to boost your endocannabinoid system  

Every great chef knows the secret to seriously delicious food is the unique combination of fresh herbs and spices.  Here's 3 simple flavoring tips that will make you an all star in the kitchen. 

How well do you know your spice rack? What kinds of herbs do you normally cook with? Did you know that these little herbs can be highly beneficial for your body? It’s time to get back basics in the kitchen and invoke the spirits of grandmothers and great-grandmothers who would spend hours cultivating herbs in the garden and making those fantastic meals from scratch that would fill the house with unforgettable aromas and fill our mouths with rich flavors.

Do you love the fresh smell of basil from a simmering sauce? The sound of fresh black pepper cracked over a vibrant salad? The taste of spicy herbs in a curry or molé sauce? Did you know that these herbs and spices don’t just stimulate our senses but are also enormously beneficial for our body? Herbs can stimulate our senses due to their terpenes – phytocompounds responsible for aroma and taste.  

From the research being done on cannabis, we are learning how the cannabis plant is a source of many terpenes with medicinal properties. For cannabis-users, this is an added bonus to the effects of cannabinoids, like CBD. For non-cannabis users, the good news is that we can still get the benefits of these terpenes from other sources. These herbs and spices can impact our endocannabinoid system – a cellular system in our bodies that works to keep homeostasis, or regulate many functions including the flow of neurotransmitters, inflammatory responses, metabolism etc. When this system functions optimally, our body is better supported in its ability to heal itself.

One of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis is beta-caryophyllene (BCP). When you think of BCP, think of the spicy flavor black pepper; BCP is responsible for this. Besides black pepper, BCP is found in spices and plants including cannabis, cloves, hops, copaiba, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and Ceylon cinnamon. BCP has the ability to bind to cellular receptors in the endocannabinoid system, specifically CB2 receptors that are primarily found in the immune system and peripheral organs. BCP assists in modulating pain responses and inflammation. .

Spice Tip 1: 

Keep your spices fresh and use often. Crack fresh black pepper over your food when possible. Use fresh oregano, thyme, and rosemary when possible.

Curcumin, the primary ingredient in turmeric, is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The interaction of curcumin with CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system – primarily found in the brain and central nervous system – has been shown to contribute to the antidepressant qualities of this complex spice. 

Spice Tip 2: 

If you love Indian food like I do, mix it into your weekly meal plan. Other great options are turmeric-containing supplements and hot golden milk.

Nutmeg, a warm spice, is often used in holiday cooking and baking. While this spice doesn’t directly bind to receptors of the endocannabinoid system, in inhibits the breakdown of endocannabinoids, counterparts to phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant. Our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids – lipid “messengers” – that bind to the cellular receptors of the endocannabinoid system to assist in its battle to keep homeostasis. Nutmeg helps to keep these endocannabinoids around a little longer to help ease negative sensations in the body such as pain and anxiety.

Spice Tip 3: 

Add small amounts of nutmeg to your dishes or sprinkle a little on a latte. Buy this is small quantities if buying already ground. It is most powerful when it hasn’t lost its aroma.

Stir up the aroma when you cook! Fill your kitchen with warm flavors! It will keep you healthy in body and mind.

Written by Alicia Salazar

Owner of Stay Balanced in Patchogue, NY. Alicia is a cannabis health coach who completed certification through the Holistic Cannabis Academy.