Our body produces substances that are very similar to substances that occur in the hemp plant. Because the latter were discovered earlier, our body’s own substances are named after them: endocannabinoids (endo means ‘inside’ or ‘inside’). The discovery of this introduced us to a unique physiological system in our body: the endocannabinoid system.
This system ensures that many body processes always remain in the right balance. Think, for example, of cell growth, fat storage and breakdown, and our immune response. If one of these things were too active or too passive, it would lead to a form of illness. The endocannabinoid system is made up of cannabinoid binding receptors, endocannabinoids, and the enzymes that can convert and break down the endocannabinoids.
Our endocannabinoids are formed in our body from fatty acids, such as omega 6. They can also be formed from many other fatty acids, such as the omega 3 fatty acids docosahexenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). A team of researchers at the University of Illinois, led by Professor Aditi Das, found that endocannabinoids have a much more potent anti-inflammatory effect when formed from DHA and EPA. This could possibly explain why omega 3 is known as an effective anti-inflammatory.
Another discovery the team made was that the endocannabinoids formed from omega-3 fatty acids are converted by enzymes into an epoxide form: endocannabinoid epoxide (EE). EE, a hitherto unknown substance, is believed to have an anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and vasodilating effect that is more potent than that of endocannabinoids.  In other words, when endocannabinoids are formed from omega3 fatty acids, they are more potent when broken down by enzymes than when they are formed from other fatty acids. The basis from which the endocannabinoids are made is therefore very important!
Professor Das was enthusiastic about their research result: “These discoveries show that omega 3 can produce some similar medicinal properties to marijuana, but without a psychotropic effect”.
Text by Dyveke Kok