Optimize Your Endocannabinoid System to Maximize the Effective of Cannabis

Many foods and activities can have a profound effect on the endocannabinoid system and as a result allow it to function optionally.  Without optimizing the internal cannabinoid system, we risk losing the ability to maximize how cannabis can help us. Remember the endocannabinoid system has to be fully optimal and without that, you won’t be able “to make chicken salad from chicken poop”.

Endocannabinoid Enhancing Foods


A well balance ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 ratios are necessary to promote optimal functionality of the endocannabinoid system since our endogenous cannabinoids are produced from something called arachidonic acid.  Most western diets unfortunately have a ratio of 1:10 omega-3:omega-6. When our ratios are 1:10 the body down-regulates the cannabinoid receptors (i.e.makes less receptors so cannabis has less to work on). It is desirable to have a 1:1 ratio to optimize the receptors. Most poor western diets contain too much omega-6 found in cooking oils like corn, sunflower, safflower and soy and in animal products and eggs.

Omega-3 are needed to balance the omega-6, but are harder to come by in the diet.  Also these omega-3 are very important for neurological and cardiac function.

Sources of endocannabinoid foods:

  •  Pasture raised eggs (not pasteurized) or eggs enriched with omega-3
  •  Ground flax seeds and flax seed oil
  •  Chia seeds
  •  Hemp seeds and hemp oil
  •  Walnuts
  •  Sardines and anchovies


Cocao powder has three compounds that have very similar chemical structures to endocannabinoids.  These three compounds can slow down the metabolism of your cannabinoids, resulting in higher levels of endocannabinoids and also have some activity similar to cannabinoids. An added bonus is it may help prevent dementia, heart disease and strokes.

The key is to obtain a chocolates with a high cocoa content greater than 70% or raw cacao nibs.


Many herbs contain chemicals that enhance the endocannabinoid system.  Black pepper, clove, cinnamon, oregano and cannabis all have beta-caryophyllene, a terpene that actually stimulates our CB2 receptors that are present throughout our body, immune  and inflammatory systems. Echinacea also contains CB2 binding capacity to help fight infections and inflammation.  

Tea contains chemicals that prevent the breakdown of endocannabinoids and stimulates the CB1 receptors that are mainly in the brain.  This is an added benefit from making Dr. Hashim’s cannabis tea.

Curcumin (found in one of our OptiHeal CBD products) comes from the spice turmeric and raises endocannabinoid levels.

Maca root powder is known to increase sexual vitality and improve reaction to stress, and it too slows the breakdown of endocannabinoids.

Probiotics and fermented foods also help the endocannabinoid system in the gut.


Pesticides are known to disrupt the endocannabinoid system, so it is important to shop for organic foods especially when it comes to dairy, meats and high pesticide containing produce ( see www.ewg.org/foodnews/).

Phthalates are added to plastic, tin containers and water bottles and they are known to block cannabinoid receptors and negatively impact our hormonal system.  Use glass or stainless steel food containers and packaging and never eat food that’s been heated in plastic.

Moderate to high quantities of alcohol impairs the endocannabinoid system, so avoid or consume very little alcohol.

Endocannabinoid Enhancing Activities

Certain activities not only enhance the endocannabinoid system, but also allow you to feel great, improve your health and effectiveness of cannabis.


Chronic stress depletes the endocannabinoid system, a well tuned endocannabinoid system protects from the ill effects of stress.  A daily exercise routine keeps the endocannabinoid system optimized, but only if you enjoy it.

Reiki (energy healing), offered at The Herbal Clinic, MD, is a valuable tool to help bring balance to chakras, align the body and assist the endocannabinoid system to optimize functionality.

Social interactions (not social media), have been shown to lower stress and enhance endocannabinoid function.  This means actually in person interaction, not virtual interaction.

Other suggestions include:

  • Meditation
  • Massage
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Osteopathic manipulation
  • Breathing exercises

I hope this is helpful to start your journey along a healthy path with the incorporation of cannabis.


McPartland JM, Guy GW, Di Marzo V. Care and Feeding of the Endocannabinoid System: A Systematic Review of Potential Clinical Interventions that Upregulate the Endocannabinoid System. Romanovsky AA, ed. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(3):e89566. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089566, 

Jürg, et al. “Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105.26 (2008): 9099-9104.

Di Tomaso, Emmanuelle, Massimiliano Beltramo, and Daniele Piomelli. “Brain cannabinoids in chocolate.” Nature 382.6593 (1996): 677-678.

Quistad, Gary B., et al. “Cannabinoid CB1 receptor as a target for chlorpyrifos oxon and other organophosphorus pesticides.” Toxicology letters 135.1-2 (2002): 89-93.Dhopeshwarkar, Amey S., et al. “The actions of benzophenanthridine alkaloids, piperonyl butoxide and (S)-methoprene at the G-protein coupled cannabinoid CB1 receptor in vitro.” European journal of pharmacology 654.1 (2011): 26-32.

Russo, Ethan B. “Beyond cannabis: plants and the endocannabinoid system.” Trends in pharmacological sciences 37.7 (2016): 594-605.