Black Pepper and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
Black pepper contains beta-caryophyllene (BCP). BCP is a cannabinoid that acts specifically on the body’s CB2 cannabinoid pathways within the ECS. The ECS is a homeostatic regulator of inflammation throughout the human body.
BCP is also found in essential oils of a variety of plants, including rosemary, hops, cloves, and cannabis. BCP is also a major component (up to 35%) in the essential oil of Cannabis sativa
The CB2 receptor of the ECS has been shown to be a promising target for combating inflammatory based diseases. Inflammatory diseases ranging from MS to epilepsy and arthritis have been shown to be impacted in a positive way through activation of the CB2 receptor by cannabinoids.
BCP has been shown to competitively bind to the CB2 receptor THC binding site. Although THC has a high affinity for CB1 binding, it does bind to CB2 as well, with less affinity. CB1 receptors are predominantly located in the brain and CB2 is predominantly located in the immune system.
BCP has also been shown to inhibit TNF (tumor necrosis factor). TNF refers to a group of cytokines that can cause tumor cell death. Drugs that block the action of TNF have been shown to be beneficial in reducing the inflammation in inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
So how can it be beneficial to block TNF if it kills cancer cells? There is something called a cytokine storm that can occur when pro-inflammatory compounds are activated, such as in TNF. Not all inflammation is bad. However, when the inflammation can't be stopped, as in a cytokine storm, the collateral damage to the surrounding cells can be catastrophic, resulting in sepsis and possibly death.
Therefore, black pepper should be involved in as many meals as possible. Be sure to use fresh peppercorn as black pepper is known to lose potency after being cracked. Ground black pepper loses its potency after a few hours.