*Disclaimer: This article is not meant to serve as a substitute for veterinary advice. Dr.Hempdog believes firmly in the contents of this article because of the thorough research that backs it up and our own experiences with the thousands of dogs that we have helped through the years (including our own). You should always defer to your veterinarian when adding anything to your dog's unique wellness routine.
Hemp is the richest source of cannabinoids in the world, but did you know that cannabinoids can actually be found in many other plants and in every animal on earth? We thought it’d be fun to share some interesting information detailing everything you might want to know about other natural sources of cannabinoids, ranging from your own body to several plants that you might already eat on a regular basis!
Why Cannabinoids are Important
Cannabinoids are unique, natural compounds that can stimulate the endocannabinoid system found in every mammal to help maintain homeostasis. Studies show that many cannabinoids can help to treat certain conditions that dogs and humans suffer from, such as arthritis, anxiety, seizures, and even cancer; our article covering the benefits of CBD breaks these findings down in more detail.
Cannabinoids fall into one of three categories, depending on where they come from:
- Phytocannabinoids: Cannabinoids from plants, including hemp and many others.
- Endocannabinoids: Cannabinoids that the body produces to help maintain homeostasis.
- Synthetic Cannabinoids: Manmade cannabinoids. Since these aren’t naturally found in nature and are very niche, we won’t go over them in further detail in this article.
Plants Besides Hemp That Contain Cannabinoids
*CAUTION: Some of these plants are not safe for dogs to ingest.
Cacao | Theobroma cacao
As if you needed another reason to eat chocolate, cacao actually contains anandamide, which is known as “the bliss molecule.” Anandamide is a natural endocannabinoid that’s most commonly found in the bodies of mammals, and is responsible for euphoric feelings such as runner’s high, as well as the regulation of inflammation, memory, mood, pain perception, and many other bodily functions. Notably, CBD has actually been shown to increase anandamide levels in the body, which enhances anandamide’s beneficial effects by extension.
Additionally, cacao contains N-acylethanolamines (NAEs), which are cannabinoid-like compounds that can further promote the body’s natural production of anandamide.
*Disclaimer: As most people know, cacao/chocolate is toxic to dogs; if you want to give your dog more anandamide, that’s what CBD is for, since it’s known to enhance the levels of anandamide in the body. Also, some of the other plants below contain anandamide, and are not known to be toxic to dogs.
Black Truffles | Tuber melanosporum
Much like cacao, black truffles contain anandamide, adding even more value to these incredibly expensive and highly sought-after mushrooms. Researchers theorize that truffles might actually have evolved to produce anandamide to become more desirable—by attracting animals with the lure of anandamide-induced euphoria, black truffles could spread their spores over wider areas with greater consistency.
Tea Plants | Camellia sinensis
Tea plants contain catechins, which are flavonoid-cannabinoid hybrids that are mostly responsible for the bitter taste of green tea. Studies show that tea catechins can activate the endocannabinoid system to provide anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits, much like many other cannabinoids.
Coneflower | Echinacea
Coneflowers contain cannabinoid-like compounds known as N-alkylamides (NAAs), which are known to activate the endocannabinoid system to inhibit inflammation. NAAs can furthermore increase anandamide levels in the body by inhibiting certain enzymes that would normally break anandamide down, much like CBD.
Electric Daisy | Acmella Oleracea
The Electric Daisy, named for its “electricity-like” numbing sensation when chewed, can actually attribute that property to cannabinoid-like substances known as N-isobutylamides. Electric daisy is such a potent numbing agent that some dentists have proposed it as an ingredient in anesthetic gels, which is no surprise given its other common nickname: “toothache plant.”
Kava Extract | Piper methysticum
Kava is often used as a supplement to help with anxiety, which studies show could be partly due to a cannabinoid-like substance known as yangonin. Yangonin can activate the endocannabinoid system in a similar way to THC, reportedly leading to a sedative, calming effect.
*Disclaimer: Kava is known to be toxic to the liver of dogs, especially with prolonged usage. If your dog is struggling with anxiety, there are many better options, which we go over in our article about recognizing and managing anxiety.
Chinese Rhododendron | Rhododendron Anthopogonoides
Chinese Rhododendron has long been used as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent, yet now, one new study proposes that cannabinoid-like substances found in the plant could be to thank for its powerful medicinal effects. To be specific, these substances (known as folic acids) are closely related to CBC, CBL, and CBT, three lesser-known cannabinoids that show incredible promise as therapeutic agents.
*Rhododendrons can be toxic to dogs, so we recommend looking into hemp-derived CBC instead, which has been shown to be highly anti-inflammatory.
Japanese Liverwort | Radula Perrottetii
Japanese Liverwort contains a cannabinoid known as perrottetinene, which is more or less THC, but better. Remarkably, perrottetinene has been shown to be even more anti-inflammatory and painkilling than THC, yet with less psychoactivity and side effects, making it an especially desirable compound for therapeutic contexts.
*Liverworts can be toxic to dogs, so as an alternative to perrottetinene, studies show that small amounts of THC (under 0.3% THC) are actually both highly effective and safe for dogs. See our article about THC in full-spectrum CBD for more info.
African Sunflowers | Helichrysum
Certain sunflowers (namely those from the Helichrysum genus, not what you’d find in your backyard!) contain cannabinoids known as “amorfrutins,” which are very similar to CBG and CBGA. These amorfrutins are often used as anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds.
Many Other Plants Containing Beta-Caryophyllene
Beta-caryophyllene is a unique substance, as it’s both a flavorful terpene and an anti-inflammatory cannabinoid. In addition to being found in hemp, beta-caryophyllene is present throughout nature in countless plants large and small: for example, did you know that beta-caryophyllene is the source of most of the flavor in black pepper?
Studies show that beta-caryophyllene is both a powerful anti-inflammatory and painkilling agent, making it an often overlooked, yet incredibly important part of many animals’ diets. We often use it alongside turmeric, as studies show that beta-caryophyllene can enhance turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects.
Hops and Oranges (Allegedly)
Several companies claim to have derived CBD from hops or orange peels. However, no scientific studies to date have identified the presence of CBD within oranges or hops—yet it is theoretically possible, at least for hops.
Hops flowers are close genetic relatives of Cannabis, so some speculate that with a bit of genetic engineering, companies could create strains of hops that produce CBD and other cannabinoids. However, no evidence exists to date of any company or scientist successfully deriving CBD from hops or oranges, so it’s best to take this information with a grain of salt until more conclusive data surfaces.
The Body’s Natural Cannabinoids
Did you know that your body is producing cannabinoids at this very moment? All animals (humans included!) have an endocannabinoid system, which, among other things, means that they produce and use endocannabinoids.
The body produces an incredible variety of endocannabinoids, but the most studied and medically significant endocannabinoids are known as anandamide and 2-AG. Scientists theorize that other minor endocannabinoids exist, but none have been characterized in detail. Studies show that both anandamide and 2-AG are powerful anti-inflammatories that can synergize with the phytocannabinoids found in hemp to be even more helpful for animals.
If you’d like to learn more about how to use the full spectrum of cannabinoids in our hemp products to successfully help your dog with some of the conditions they may suffer from, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation with our expert team by visiting our website, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contacting us at (720) 773-9595.