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.
- 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.
- 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):
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.