Cannabis: Gateway to Herbal Medicine

The human endocannabinoid system (ECS) is so named because it responds to cannabis compounds. But cannabis is not its only regulator – there are a plethora of molecules derived from plants or even single-cellular organisms that interact with the ECS.

Italian and Swedish scientists published a 2019 review in Planta describing “cannabimimetic” plants. These plants are not cannabis impostors, but they produce interesting chemicals that interact with the ECS, a system fundamental to all vertebrate organisms.

The authors cover dozens of plant species producing a total of roughly 50 cannabinoid-related molecules. Quite a few of these herbs have been used as traditional medicines for centuries, and their medical effects align with our modern understanding of the ECS’s fundamental role in many diseases. Some plants even produce the human endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG, though there is no known plant with cannabinoid receptors.

Quercetin, found in marigolds and many

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