There are lots of reasons to make sure you’re getting enough Omega-3s. These beneficial fatty acids protect your heart, improve your concentration and give your immune system a helping hand—to name a few.* Now there’s another reason to get your fill: Omega-3s help the body produce and process cannabinoids.*
Cannabinoids and Your Health
Your endocannabinoid system (ECS) is in charge of keeping your body in balance and regulating functions such as hunger, pain, mood and sleep. It can use cannabinoids your body makes (called endocannabinoids) as well as plant cannabinoids from cannabis products, like CBD oil from hemp. (It’s versatile that way.) Both kinds of cannabinoids attach to the very same receptors, called CB1 and CB2 receptors.
The Omega-3-Cannabinoid Connection
How does your body make its own cannabinoids? From Omega-3 fatty acids![i] These fats also come in handy when your body is processing plant cannabinoids. Why? Because cannabinoids are fat-soluble, which means they need to be in the presence of fats like Omega-3s in order to be metabolized.
Your ECS Needs Omega-3s to Function
So, what happens to your ECS when you’re not getting enough Omega-3s?
Scientists set out to answer this question by feeding mice a diet deficient in Omega-3s. In one case, the mice’s CB1 receptors did not work because they had become disconnected from the proteins they needed to function.[ii] (That doesn’t sound good!) In another, the animals demonstrated nervous, agitated behavior. The researchers speculated that this was due to changes they observed in the signaling in the mice’s ECSs.[iii]
Are You Getting Enough?
The interaction between Omega-3s and the ECS isn’t a theoretical question, because like the mice in those experiments, most Americans don’t get enough Omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. Fatty fish like salmon, cod and tuna are some of the best food sources. Vegetarians can get Omega-3s from walnuts, flax seed and seaweed. Since most folks don’t eat those foods frequently enough, though, taking a fish or flax oil supplement can be a good insurance policy.
However you get your Omega-3s, your endocannabinoid system will thank you.