Project Description

A visual guide to choosing foods containing photocannabinoids that support your body’s endocannabinoid system and their specific uses.

What are Phytocannabinoids?

Phytocannabinoids are a class of plant based compounds that bind to / interact with receptors (CB1/CB2) in the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

These include cannabinoids found in hemp / marijuana (ie. THC, CBD) as well as cannabinoids and compounds with cannabinoid properties found in foods (ie. terpenes, polyphenols) and other compounds that interact with the ECS.

Cannabinoid Foods

  • Broccoli
  • Turmeric
  • Onions
  • Brussel’s sprouts
  • Artichokes
  • Cauliflower
  • Green tea
  • Omega-3 rich foods
  • Fermented foods
  • Dark chocolate
  • Berries
  • Red grapes
  • Black pepper
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Rosemary

CB1 / CB2 Receptors: Where are they?

The ECS has two primary types of receptors: CB1 & CB2.

CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain and nervous system as well as in adipose, liver and muscle tissues, whereas CB1 receptors are primarily located in immune cells as well as peripheral organs (ie. heart, bone, muscle, digestive tract).

CB1 and the Battle of the Bulge

The ECS is involved in regulating appetite, food intake and energy metabolism. The primary functions of the ECS from an evolutionary perspective are energy storage and fat accumulation. In simplistic terms, stimulation of cannabinoid (CB) receptors in the brain increases our appetite and food intake and makes us prone to energy storage, fat accumulation and obesity.

One of the goals of cannabinoid nutrition is to minimize ECS / CB over-activation by shifting eating behaviors towards foods that reduce CB1 receptor activation and instead promote anti- inflammatory CB2 receptor activity.

Omega-3 / Omega-6 Balance and your Weight

Dietary omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are used to make cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids (EC), in the body. The balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fats in our diets is important in this process.

Consuming long chain omega-3s such as EPA and DHA, found mainly in fatty fish, causes decreased levels of ECs to be produced, which in turn increases satiety (feeling of fullness), decreases food intake, and increases fat burning, thereby promoting a healthy weight.
Omega-6 fats, on the other hand, should be consumed minimally due to their ability to stimulate EC production, contributing to overeating and obesity.

The optimal balance of omega-6 to omega-3s is in the 2-4:1 range, whereas the average North American diet can be as high as 15 – 25:1.

Omega Fat Food Sources

Omega-3 Omega-6
Fatty fish (mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines)
Vegetable oils (safflower, sunflower, corn, soy, peanut, vegatable)
Vegetable oil (flaxseed, hempseed oil, avocado oil)
Snack foods / Fast foods
Nuts, seeds (flaxseed, hempseed, chia seed, pumpin seeds, walnuts)
Peanut butter
Winter squash
Fatty red meats, poultry
Wild rice
Mayonnaise / salad dressing
Leafy greens
Salad dressing with vegetable oils above
Cruciferous vegetables (brocolli, cauliflower, brussel’s sprouts, kale)
Dairy (milk, cheese)
Grass fed meats
Cage Raised Eggs
Omega-3 enriched eggs
White Bread / Pasta
Seaweed / Nori
Hemp seeds, walnut

Cannabinoid Foods

This quick reference chart summarizes the effects of various cannabinoid- containing foods on the ECS. All foods modulate the ECS and encourage CB1 / CB2 balance, ultimately promoting homeostasis (balance) and a healthy appetite/food intake while reducing inflammation and other conditions arising from the overproduction of ECs and ECS overactivation.

Cannabinoid Nutrient Foods found in ECS Effects / Health Benefits


Yellow Curry Powder

Cannabimimetic (acts like a cannabinoid)

Blocks CB1 receptor – weight loss

Anti-inflammatory, improved cognition, antioxidant

DIM and Indole-3- Carbinol

Cruciferous vegetables
(ie. broccoli, cauliflower, brussel’s sprouts, arugula, kale, cabbage, bok choy, watercress)

Bind to CB2 receptor – anti-
inflammatory, antioxidant activity

Increase detoxifying enzymes in – the liver

Anti-carcinogenic – prevents hormone-related cancers, ie. breast, prostate, uterine


Black pepper, hops, cannabis, lavender, cloves

Terpene – flavor responsible for black pepper

CB1 agonist (blocks CB1 receptor) – weight loss benefits!

Binds to CB2 receptor – anti- inflammatory, immunomodulatory

(ie. EGCG, trans- resveratrol, tannins)

Green tea (EGCG), berries, red grapes, wine, dark chocolate, pistachios

Cannabimimetic effects

Potent antioxidants

Inhibit ECS degradation enzyme (FAAH) – prevent breakdown of anandamide (euphoric “feel good” endocannabinoid associated with “high” of marijuana)

Vitamin E

Olive oil, sunflower seeds, avocado, almonds, spinach, curcumin (turmeric)

Not a cannabinoid

Neuroprotective antioxidant – protects brain and nerves from damage (ie. stress, environmental – factors)

Works synergistically with neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids (ie. CBD)

Probiotic Bacteria

Fermented foods (ie. sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, tempeh, kimchi, pickles, apple cider vinegar (with mother), kefir, yogurt

Contain Lactobacillus acidophilus – Impact expression of CB receptors in the gut

Impacts opioid receptors – reduce pain!

Prebiotic Fiber

Onions, garlic, leeks, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke

Fiber that increases the probiotic bacteria in the gut (improves gut microbiome)

Impacts expression of CB receptors in the gut


Kaempferol (a polyphenol)

Spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, squash, cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, peaches, berries (raspberries, blackberries)


Inhibits enzyme FAAH (prevents breakdown of anandamide) (see polyphenols)



Binds to CB2 receptor

Inhibits FAAH (prevents breakdown of anandamide)

Anti-inflammatory, common cold / cough / fever, UTIs, wounds / burns

Cannabinoid Nutrition Basics

  1. Eat healthy fats (omega-3/6 balance, olive oil, avocados, hempseed oil, vitamins A&E)
  2. Eat a wide variety of whole fruits, vegetables, nuts/ seeds, whole grains (limited) and spices (polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals)
  3. Eat fermented and prebiotic-containing foods (healthy microbiome)
  4. Eat omega-3 rich foods (vegetarian / animal sources)
  5. Limit grains, meat, dairy products and processed foods (high omega-6 / 3 ratio – inflammatory)
  6. Drink tea (green, ginger, echinacea)
  7. Take CBD (activates CB2 and other non-ECS receptors)
  8. Modify recipes to incorporate cannabinoid foods
  9. Choose foods that promote gut health to reduce symptoms of IBS / indigestion (fermented, healthy fats, cooked vegetables, turmeric, ginger)
  10. Plant based and pegan (paleo/vegan) diets provide a great foundation for optimal cannabinoid nutrition.