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How Anthocyanin-Rich Fruits Impact the Endocannabinoid System

Chane Leigh

by Chane Leigh

November 25, 2021 08:30 am ET Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
How Anthocyanin-Rich Fruits Impact the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a key system in our bodies that allows us to benefit from the compounds of the cannabis plant, such as THC. Now, emerging research has found a link between the ECS and compounds known as anthocyanins—pigmented flavonoids found primarily in fruits like cranberries, blueberries, and blackberries. On top of giving these foods their rich coloring, anthocyanins are full of antioxidants that provide a variety of health benefits, particularly for chronic conditions. Anthocyanins and the ECS appear to have a special relationship—let’s take a look at why. 

Fruits That Are Loaded With Anthocyanins

Raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries belong to a group of flowering and fruiting plants known as Rubus. The fruits from these plants are stacked with nutrients and are potent antioxidants. The colors of these fruits are determined by the pH of the fruit and by the amount of light they receive. Fruits from Rubus plants include red, blue, and purple shades. In terms of pH, reds usually have a higher acidity (pH ≤7), while blues have lower acidity (pH ≥7). These fruits are anthocyanins, which are loved by your ECS, and explain why they are so beneficial to consume. 

Anthocyanins are described as “a class of water-soluble flavonoids widely present in fruits and vegetables”. Anthocyanins themselves are “natural phenolic pigments with biological activity”, according to a 2020 study published in Front. Pharmacology. The prominent anthocyanin natural pigments include orange, red, violet, and blue shades. The study explains that anthocyanins are produced by plants in order to attract insects for pollination as well as herbivorous animals for spreading seeds.

Anthocyanins are also considered to be bioactive compounds with many benefits including anti-inflammatory properties, preventing age-related chronic diseases (such as cancer, neurodegeneration, eye-related diseases, etc), and having antiviral properties… all of which are in addition to being powerful antioxidants. The study also explains that anthocyanins have been shown to play a role in inhibiting “the replication of viruses such as herpes simplex, parainfluenza virus, syncytial virus, HIV, rotavirus, and adenovirus”. However, the therapeutic use of anthocyanins is explained by the study to be limited by their reduced stability and low solubility. 

The ECS and Anthocyanins: A Love Affair

An examination of anthocyanins and their affinity for cannabinoid receptors reveals that the fruits from anthocyanins, such as those from the Rubus, contribute to the homeostasis (health balance) in the body through the use of cannabinoid (CB) receptors. A 2017 study explains that The ECS plays “key modulatory roles during synaptic plasticity and homeostatic processes in the brain” and that CB1 receptors are primarily located in the peripheral nervous system, while the CB2 receptors are located primarily in the central nervous system. 

If the extraordinary health benefits from fruits like raspberries and blackberries are a result of their anthocyanin compounds binding to cannabinoid receptors in the ECS, then why are we not eating more of these fruits? Well, that may be the result of a lack of emphasis on nutrient-dense foods and a large emphasis on processed foods. It is the processed foods that contribute to the continued rise of chronic diseases including diabetes, which could be avoided by more organic and nutrient-rich foods such as the fruits from the Rubus plants. 

A study (and clinical trial) on anthocyanin supplementation found that eating the class of food belonging to the anthocyanin class is able to significantly reduce cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides as well as increase the total count of plasma antioxidant capacity. The foods, especially fruits, in this class were also found to bind to the cannabinoid receptors which then also reduced fasting plasma glucose and improved this clinical trials’ participants’ insulin resistance in comparison to the participants who received the placebo. 

Despite the fact that anthocyanins have a binding relationship to the ECS (literally), researchers agree that there is a need for further research and investigation.

How Does Cannabis Relate to Anthocyanins? 

The 2020 study goes on to explain that anthocyanins are commonly used as colorants in the food industry- which brings us to the question of whether there are cannabis strains that contain terpenes related to anthocyanins. Have you ever seen a cannabis flower that has a purple color? Well, we have anthocyanins to thank for that. Yes, the very beneficial anthocyanins are what cause some strains of cannabis to display purple hues. If you would like to find out more about these purple plants, be sure to check out this article

Cannabis strains that are purple include Granddaddy Purple, Purple Kush, Purple Urkle, Fruity Pebbles, and many others but there is not enough research to support whether purple cannabis strains are better than other strains. 

Foods rich in anthocyanins can lead to incredible health improvements despite the fact that researchers think there should be more studies. Your body loves raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries since it binds to the cannabinoid receptors in your ECS- which promotes homeostasis, much like cannabis. Since there is not enough research to support the superiority of purple cannabis strains, you would be wise to include more anthocyanin-rich foods in your diet. Other anthocyanin-rich foods include pomegranate, purple sweet potato, beetroot, red cabbage, blackcurrants, and cherries.

Post Your Comments

Phoenixdoe says:

November 27, 2021 at 8:20 am

I love your articles. Fascinating, educational and brilliant. 😁👍


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