The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system identified in the early 1990s by researchers exploring THC, a well-known cannabinoid compound in the cannabis plant. Since then, studies have shown that cannabinoids exert their effects primarily by interacting with the ECS. Interestingly, research has revealed that certain plants other than cannabis contain compounds that either mimic cannabinoids or influence the ECS in various ways. This article explores several such plants, providing insights into their interactions with the ECS.

Plants with Cannabinoid-Like Compounds

While cannabis is the most well-known plant for its high concentration of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, other plants produce compounds that interact with the ECS, offering unique health benefits.

Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)

This herb is commonly used to prevent colds and flu due to its immune-boosting properties. It contains compounds called N-alkyl amides (NAAs), which can interact with the CB2 receptor, potentially reducing inflammation and pain. 

Reference: Raduner, S., et al. (2006). ‘Alkylamides from Echinacea are a new class of cannabinomimetics. Cannabinoid type 2 receptor-dependent and -independent immunomodulatory effects.’ J. Biol. Chem.

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)

Black pepper includes beta-caryophyllene (BCP), a dietary cannabinoid that binds to CB2 receptors. BCP is associated with anti-inflammatory effects and may have potential in treating pain and inflammation.

Reference: Gertsch, J., et al. (2008). ‘Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid.’ Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.

Cacao (Theobroma cacao)

Cacao beans contain compounds that inhibit the breakdown of endocannabinoids, effectively enhancing their natural effects. The blissful feeling after consuming chocolate may partly derive from this interaction.

Reference: Di Tomaso, E., et al. (1996). ‘Brain cannabinoids in chocolate.’ Nature.

Kava (Piper methysticum)

Kava, a beverage made from the roots of Piper methysticum, is known for its psychoactive properties. It contains kavalactones that may interact with the ECS, offering sedative, anxiolytic, and euphoric effects.

Reference: Ligresti, A., et al. (2016). ‘From Phytocannabinoids to cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids: pleiotropic physiological and pathological roles through complex pharmacology.’ Physiol Rev.

Other Notable Mentions


The discovery of the ECS has opened new horizons in understanding how plants can influence human health beyond nutrition. The plants listed above, among others, interact with the ECS in unique ways, potentially offering health benefits through mechanisms that are still being uncovered. As research continues, we may find more plants that contain compounds beneficial to the ECS, expanding our options for natural health interventions. The following dosing guidelines should be reviewed with your medical professional. Please do not interpret anything on this page or in this website as medical advice. 

Dosage Guidelines


      1. Echinacea (Echinacea spp.): Dosages for echinacea can vary depending on the product (such as teas, capsules, or tinctures). For general immune support, a common dosage might be 1-2 grams of dried root or herb, as tea, up to three times daily.

      1. Black Pepper (Piper nigrum): As a culinary spice, black pepper is generally consumed in small amounts, making it difficult to quantify a health-related dosage. However, supplements containing piperine (an active compound in black pepper) may recommend doses around 5-20 mg per day.

      1. Cacao (Theobroma cacao): For health benefits related to its polyphenols and effects on the endocannabinoid system, doses of raw or minimally processed cacao might range from 20-40 grams per day. However, high consumption can also mean increased calories and fat.

      1. Kava (Piper methysticum): For anxiety relief, studies have used doses of kava extract ranging from 100 to 300 mg daily, standardized to 70% kavalactones. It’s important to note that kava has been associated with liver toxicity in some cases, so it should be used with caution.

      1. Liverwort (Radula marginata) and Helichrysum umbraculigerum: There is limited research on effective dosages for these plants, and they are not commonly available as supplements.

      1. Flax (Linum usitatissimum): For general health benefits, daily doses of flaxseed range from 15-30 grams of ground seeds. Flaxseed oil dosages typically range from 1-2 tablespoons daily.

    Important Considerations


    Given the complexity of dosage recommendations and the potential for interactions and side effects, individual research and professional guidance are key to safely using these plants for their cannabinoid-like effects.