Cannabis and Maca have both originally grown in harsh high altitude climates in the nutrient-dense mountain ranges at some 4000 metres above sea level, they’ve been cultivated for over 2000 years, traditionally used in food and medicine, and they both have a long history of thriving in difficult conditions. Which may help to better provide an understanding of their almost miraculous effects on helping us restore and maintain resilience and resistance to mental, emotional and physical stress when their medicinal compounds are ingested.
When we experience acute stress, our body enters a state of “fight or flight” initiating both a physiological and psychological response in the body that aids us in preparing to either overcome the impending stressor or avoid it. This response redirects blood flow away from the reproductive, and digestive systems, and into the parts of the body needed to either “fight or flight”, raising our heart rate and blood pressure as a cascade of “stress” hormones like cortisol and adrenaline flood our bloodstream. This ancient “fight or flight” response is appropriate when we’re facing an immediate threat to our survival, such as if a hungry and aggressive saber toothed tiger presented itself in front of us. However, when this response is triggered in traffic when someone cuts us off, by an argument at work, or with a spouse, or even when we experience an anxious thought of a fearful event happening in the future, we unnecessarily create a highly stressed environment inside our bodies that makes us more prone to experiencing mental, emotional and physical stress and less resilient and adaptable.
If this stress-response is triggered regularly, through repeated stressful events and experiences, or through the more difficult periods of our lives, our body and mind can begin to lose some of its resilience, wearing us down and making us more sensitive to stress and challenge. This means events or experiences that wouldn’t normally cause us to feel stressed, can begin to cause overwhelm, perpetuating a vicious cycle of stress that leads to an inability to adapt to a changing environment. Constant stress, traumatic events, an unhealthy diet, and lifestyle can all upset the sensitive balance of our brain chemistry and cause anxiety, depression, fatigue and other symptoms that can lead to long-term chronic illness. Our physiology does not fare well against a constant state of stress hormones. This leads to chronic states of inflammation, auto-immunity, fatigue, hormonal disruption, poor mental health, and other disabling ailments.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is now considered to be one of the most important systems of physiology inside the body, responsible for both regulating and balancing every major system in the body from the immune and reproductive system, to the cardiovascular and nervous system. If there were one system to “rule them all”, the ECS would be it. The ECS was first seen to develop in the womb at eight week’s gestation, and the crucial endocannabinoids it produces, such as anandamide and 2-AG, can be found in breast milk; aiding in the healthy development of the baby. Endocannabinoids are the master keys produced by the endocannabinoid system that unlock the body’s internal medicine cabinet by attaching to the body’s own cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2. When the ECS is fully functioning, it has the ability to restore balance and order to systems of the body under stress. When the ECS is dysfunctional (known as endocannabinoid deficiency), it causes a slow form of erosion throughout the entire body, as the body's systems scramble to keep up with the stress placed upon them. Chronic states of stress coupled with a dysfunctional endocannabinoid system, become a recipe for chronic illness.
In 2013, researchers Pacher and Kunos revealed in a paper that “modulating endocannabinoid system activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans, including obesity/diabetes, metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative, inflammatory, liver, cardiovascular, skin diseases, gastrointestinal, psychiatric disorders, pain, cancer, chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, among many others.” The importance of the endocannabinoid system to the treatment of our wellbeing is directly related to our survival and cannot be underestimated or overstated.
The endocannabinoid system is present throughout the body and brain and appears and disappears in a matter of seconds. It affects conditions as varied as multiple forms of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, inflammation, degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer's, auto-immune conditions like fibromyalgia, endometriosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis, mood and pain. This is a system that doesn’t store up its main components, but creates them when it needs them, on demand. It really is the “ghost in the machine”: largely and almost completely responsible for maintaining balance to the body’s most essential systems that control mood, pain, inflammation, wellness, energy and illness. For more information on this vital system, read our two part article at The Endocannabinoid System Explained.
The hemp variety of cannabis contains a full spectrum of naturally occuring phytocannabinoids that aid in supplementing a struggling endocannabinoid system with plant-based cannabinoids that act in the body in much the same way as our own endocannabinoids. Hemp contains over 130+ cannabinoids such as CBD, CBC, CBG, and CBN, that all have their own unique attributes and benefits. The cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), mostly known for its psychoactive effects in recreational marijuana users, is almost non-existent in hemp, with legal limits in most countries set at 0.3% THC. At this level, hemp products have a nil chance of producing any psychoactive effects among consumers, yet will still provide many advantageous effects through their ability to supply much needed cannabinoids to an overwhelmed, and potentially inactive, endocannabinoid system. Terpenes are another highly beneficial compound found inside hemp, that when extracted intact, such as in the case of a full spectrum hemp oil, provide an environment inside the body called the “entourage effect”, bringing synergy to the plant compounds, and doubling the effectiveness of the cannabinoids inside the body. For more information on the benefits of cannabinoids found in hemp, read our article The Chemistry of Cannabis.
Anandamide (AEA) is a critical cannabinoid produced by the endocannabinoid system, and was first discovered by researchers studying the effects of THC on the body. It was named from the Sanskrit word ananda, which means “bliss”, by Dr Raphael Mechoulam, who is also the same researcher who discovered the endocannabinoid system. Present in breast milk, anandamide and another endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are involved in regulating brain development, motor control, cognition, feeding behavior, and emotional responses including the neural generation of motivation and pleasure in babies. Anandamide is considered the “bliss molecule” because of its ability to regulate our endocannabinoid and endocrine systems through the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis of the body, which controls our natural stress response ; more anandamide means more “bliss”. In much the same way that phytocannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) can increase our levels of anandamide , enzymes like FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) can decrease the amount of anandamide in the body. If the ECS is overwhelmed, or worse, inactive, it can struggle to maintain “bliss” levels of anandamide in the body, especially with FAAH stepping in to cut its lifecycle short.
Maca contains a unique set of compounds called macamides and macaenes that work with and alongside the endocannabinoid system to enhance the activity of endocannabinoids and also provide additional protective benefits in respect to inflammation, metabolism, cell growth, and energy balance  . In much the same way that the compounds in hemp need to be carefully extracted, maca also needs to be traditionally Peruvian grown and then activated through a drying process in order for medicinal macamides to be present in the final product . Peruvian locals believe consuming fresh maca root may have adverse health effects and recommend following the traditional activation process before consuming it. Macamides have the ability to keep levels of anandamide higher in the body for longer by slowing down FAAH  . Slowing the breakdown of anandamide and increasing circulating levels helps to build a natural long-term strength and resilience to stress that makes maca a powerful ally in regulating pain, hormonal balance, neurotransmitter production (serotonin), metabolic and adrenal function. Like hemp, maca is “adaptogenic”, and is suitable for long-term use and well tolerated by most people.
Maca powder has been shown to increase libido,  fertility,     relieve symptoms of menopause,  protect bone health,    improve mood and reduce anxiety,      boost sport performance and energy,     improve learning and memory,       reduce prostate size,      , offer neuroprotection,  decrease symptoms of PMS,  improve metabolism and thyroid function .
There is a powerful synergistic entourage effect that is created when combining these two powerful plants. Hemp acts alongside the ECS to support and nourish the health of this great system by supplying plant-based cannabinoids that increase anandamide levels, and maca works by gently increasing the amount of endocannabinoids produced and available inside the body through the inhibition of FAAH.
Hemp and Maca work synergistically providing an optimal ratio of healthy omega fatty acids and macamides to support healthy heart and brain function, joints, skin, energy, stamina, mental health, focus, libido and stress management.
Hemp oils are not the same as CBD in that, cannabidiol is made from the flowers, leaves and stalks of the hemp plant, whereas hemp seed oil capsules are made from cold pressed hemp seeds.
Side effects are virtually non-existent with hemp oil capsules, which are rich in the essential fatty acids such as gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Their digestability is high along with their excellent nutritional profile. If unsure, consult with your healthcare professional.
Hemp oil capsules have been used to relieve dry, itchy skin, reducing the need for skin medications due to their rich fatty acid profile. They also have a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, making them the obvious choice for supporting joint health and combating eczema, psoriasis, and other symptoms of skin ailments.
Hemp oil capsules are ideally taken with food and in conjunction with a healthy nutritious diet. For the most advantageous results, combine them with activated maca root to combine the powerful synergy of these two powerful plants.
The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or take the place of a licensed medical professional. Prior to making changes to your lifestyle or treatment plan, consult with your doctor.