Stimulate Your Endocannabinoid System

Here are 12 ways to stimulate and support your endocannabinoid system naturally.

1. Cold Exposure

  • Cold exposure shown to increase endocannabinoid levels. 
  • Researchers have also found that cold exposure significantly increases the density of CB1 neurons. 
  • Try finishing your next shower with at least 30 seconds of cold water and see how you feel, then work your way up to longer periods.
  • It is painful to do, but the lingering effects are worth it.
  • Cold exposure also stimulates the vagus nerve.

2. Sex Hormones

  • Male and female sex hormones also stimulate and support the endocannabinoid system.
  • It has been demonstrated that both testosterone and estradiol upregulates the CB1 receptors. 
  • Estradiol also increases the synthesis and release of the endocannabinoids (anandamide), which activates CB1 receptors. 
  • The plasma levels of anandamide correlate nicely with the levels of estrogen during the menstrual cycle in women. 

3. Coffee

  • Drinking coffee is another way to stimulate and support your endocannabinoid system. 
  • Researchers believe that the cannabinoid system is involved in the psychoactive properties of caffeine. 
  • Regular caffeine consumption has shown to enhance the activation of CB1 receptors by endocannabinoids. 
  • CB1 receptors are downregulated after “social defeat stress”, but caffeine counteracts this effect. 
  • Traditionally, the coffee bean, extracted from the coffee fruit for roasting and the surrounding fruit discarded. 
  • The coffee fruit contains several healthy compounds not found in coffee beans themselves.
  • After years of careful clinical research, scientists have discovered that ingesting whole coffee fruit concentrate significantly increases brain function. 

4. Flavonoids

  • Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant compounds found in almost all fruits and vegetables.
  • Chocolate, tea, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds contain them. Overall, the more colourful a food is, the richer it is in flavonoids.
  • The following flavonoids inhibit fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which is the enzyme responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids (anandamide) (16):
    • Genistein
    • Kaempferol
    • 7-hydroxyflavone
    • 3,7-dihydroxyflavone
  • It’s best to consume fruits and vegetables in their raw forms to receive the highest number of flavonoids as cooked fruits and vegetables have less.

5. Tea

6. Probiotics

7. Dark Chocolate – At least 80%

  • Most people know dark chocolate is rich in multiple antioxidants, such as flavonols and polyphenols, which reduce oxidative stress.
  • Interestingly, it also contains the endocannabinoid anandamide (which is why it is in abundance in our Soldier Plus capsule). 
  • Dark chocolate also contains other compounds that slow down the breakdown of anandamide, increasing the amount of anandamide that stimulates your endocannabinoid system. 
  • Dark chocolate also increases BDNF and reduces cortisol.  

8. Reduce Stress

  • I highly recommend you try to do something every day to manage your stress because emotional stress downregulates CB1 receptors. 
  • High cortisol levels for prolonged periods, such as those caused by chronic stress also reduces CB1 receptors and significantly reduces cannabinoid binding to CB1 receptors. 
  • On top of this, chronic psychological stress reduces endocannabinoid levels in the brain. 
  • Overall, researchers say there is strong evidence that the endocannabinoid system needs to function optimally in order to properly deal with stress

9. Exercise

  • Exercise is great way to stimulate and support your endocannabinoid system.
  • Medium and high-intensity exercise activates the endocannabinoid system. 
  • Research also shows that exercise significantly upregulates CB1 receptors and enhances CB1 receptor sensitivity, which is why exercise can protect against the consequences of stress
  • Exercise-related improvements in memory are also due to activation of the CB1 receptor. Blocking this receptor seems to prevent the memory benefits of exercise. 
  • Several studies also show that exercise increases levels of anandamide and activates cannabinoid signalling. 
  • Researchers now believe that endocannabinoids may actually be responsible for the “runner’s high” (euphoria) that you get when you exercise, and not endorphins. 
  • However, you should not force yourself to exercise. The endocannabinoid system can see forced exercise as a type of stress and therefore does not increase endocannabinoid levels. It can actually decrease CB1 signalling. 
  • Therefore, you should find an aerobic activity that you enjoy so that it is not a burden.
  • Many brain health experts recommend exercise as their number one piece of advice for optimal brain health. 

10. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that your body cannot produce itself. They are necessary for the normal electrical functioning of your brain and nervous system.
  • Research shows that they increase the synthesis of endocannabinoids and upregulate both CB1 and CB2 receptors
  • There is also a connection between low omega-3 fatty acid intake, poor endocannabinoid function and mood changes
  • Omega-3 fatty acids found primarily in cold-water fish such as salmon, black cod, sablefish, sardines and herring.
  • Unfortunately, most people do not consume enough omega-3 fatty acids through their diet.

11. Curcumin

  • Curcumin is the most heavily researched compound within turmeric, the spice that gives curry its yellow colour.  
  • Researchers have found that supplementing with curcumin for 4 weeks reduces depression by binding to the CB1 receptor and increasing endocannabinoid levels in the brain.
  • Since curcumin is a fat soluble, take it with a fatty meal.  

12. Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil

  • Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active cannabinoids in cannabis.
  • It is not psychoactive but it has a wide range of medical applications.
  • Research shows that CBD enhances the expression of CB1 receptors in the brain. 
  • It also increases levels of 2-AG by preventing it from breaking down.