Talk about being on the cutting edge of science here, folks. Now more than ever, scientists are furiously researching the activity of our body’s own endocannabinoid system (ECS) as a major factor in some very important areas of brain and Central Nervous System functioning. Now, research by Z Hadju et al published just yesterday shows that Maca root aka Lepidium meyenii or Lepidium peruvianum (yes that amazing Peruvian super food you may have heard me talk about just a little bit) contains compounds which may have important effects on various protein targets in the ECS system. These compounds, called N-alkylamides (NAAs), have an effect that is described as cannabomimetic.
This is fascinating not just because it gives one more exciting insight (from a thoroughly reductionist standpoint, mind you) of how dynamic plants are. It is especially timely because it parallels a re-visitation our society and our scientists are having with cannabinoids. New pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and brain therapies are being developed around these stunning new developments and the potential for tapping into our body’s own regulation mechanisms. Which is, clearly, what plant medicines do best because of their own internal regulatory mechanisms and unique things like secondary metabolites.
In an article in the NY TImes, celebrity food author and philosopher Michael Pollan talks about the cannabanoid network “A brain chemical that sharpens the senses, narrows your mental focus, allows you to forget everything extraneous to the task at hand (including physical discomfort and the passage of time) and makes you hungry would seem to be the perfect pharmacological tool for Man…” While this is extremely relevant to research on compounds such as CBD extracted from industrial hemp (and therefore legal in all 50 states) it may apply to many botanicals in different ways, as well as to our body’s own intrinsic production of compounds such as anandamide (named for the Vedic word ananda, meaning bliss).