Can’t Use CBD Oil? There Are Other Effective Alternatives

Drug testing has become common in many work places, and mandatory for those in federal positions, law enforcement, aviation, health and emergency medical care, and athletics (particularly those tested for banned substances). What many CBD users don’t realize is that trace amounts of THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis) can be found in CBD products, posing a potential risk of a positive drug test.

So, what do you do if you’re drug tested in your profession, but still want to experience the health benefits of CBD? You can either avoid the substance altogether or you can take a safe CBD alternative that works on your endocannabinoid system better than CBD alone.

How the Endocannabinoid System Works

First, it’s important to understand the endocannabinoid system or ECS. You may be familiar with this relatively new term, but still confused on what it is exactly. The endocannabinoid system is 600-million-years old, but only recently discovered in the late 80’s by a scientist researching the cannabis plant. What researchers found was an intricate and intelligent receptor-site system located throughout the body that’s responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles, mood, anxiety and stress, metabolism, energy, pain and inflammation, brain health and much more.

Learn more about the endocannabinoid system

While it has nothing to do with getting “high," the ECS is an incredibly important system that plays an integral part in the regulation, maintenance, and balance of optimal health and healing. “The ECS with its actions in our immune system, nervous system, and all the body's organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind,” says Dustin Sulak, DO.

How CBD Affects the Body

Now that you know a little more about how the ECS works, lets dive into how CBD interacts with this system and affects the body. Your endocannabinoid system requires “activators” called cannabinoids. Some cannabinoids are produced naturally in your body, called endocannabinoids and others are derived from plants (like hemp or cannabis) called phytocannabinoids. These cannabinoids bind to receptor sites (CB1 and CB2) like a key does to a lock and may release an intricate cascade of neurotransmitters that communicate vital information to cells, tissues, organs and glands critical to maintaining optimal health and homeostasis. However, scientists have discovered hundreds of non-cannabis and non-hemp plants that also contain healing phytocannabinoids that can activate and support the endocannabinoid system. This means you can achieve the same results with other options.

Did you say Non-Cannabis Cannabinoids?

Yes, that’s right. And you may already be familiar with some of these non-cannabis plants such as ginger, echinacea and clove oil. Non-cannabis plants can mimic the activity of cannabinoids but have a different structure called cannabimimetic compounds and may be more effective at activating the endocannabinoid system than CBD alone. This is especially great news for individuals who are unable to take CBD or who want to avoid the stigma of cannabis and hemp.

So, what are the names of these non-cannabis cannabinoids? Here’s a short list of some of the most powerful herbs and botanicals containing phytocannabinoids that can play a key role in your health.

  • Ginger root: One of the most potent anti-inflammatory plants, ginger root is rich in both antioxidants and cannabinoids. Since inflammation can have a significant impact on your tissues, muscles and joints, ginger root is critical to include in your diet. It naturally boosts the ECS by attaching to receptors responsible for regulating pain and inflammation.

  • Magnolia: Experts have discovered that magnolia bark and its main bioactive compounds (magnolol and honokiol) have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-allergic agents. Additionally, magnolia can activate cannabinoid receptors responsible for regulating sleep, memory and anxiety.

  • Black pepper: This potent herb binds with CB2 receptors responsible for moderating inflammation and pain. Because of its ability to initiate a physiological response within the ECS, its often used to treat osteoporosis and arthritis; and may have the potential to increase the effectiveness of some anti-cancer drugs.

  • Clove oil: A potent component of clove oil is eugenol - a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antidepressant. Beta-caryophyllene in cloves is a significant phytocannabinoid that can bind with CB2 receptors to relieve pain and inflammation.

  • Echinacea: You may be more familiar with echinacea as a cold remedy, but this powerful herb can also activate CB1 receptors. It contains a compound called N-alkyl amides that’s very similar to how THC affects pain, the immune system, and inflammation.

  • Peony: This native flower of China is a great source of cannabinoids. Also known as peonia root, it is known for its ability to reduce inflammation in gout and other joint diseases, as well as calming muscle spasms. 

Read more about the health benefits of ginger

[Editor's Note: Our partner Emerald Health Bioceuticals offers a line of non-CBD based supplements that contain many of these ingredients. You can visit their site at]

Beckett A. 9 plants that contain therapeutic cannabinoids (other than cannabis). 2017 May 16
Emerald Health Bioceuticals. The healing and pain-relieving power of clove oil. 2017 May 25
Emerald Health Bioceuticals. Seven amazing plants that nourish the endocannabinoid system. 2017 May 26
Gertsch J et al. Phytocannabinoids beyond the cannabis plant—do they exist? British Journal of Pharmacology 2010 Jun; 160(3): 523-29
Rempel V et al. Magnolia extract, magnolol, and metabolites: activation of cannabinoid CB2 receptors and blockage of the related GPR55. ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters 2012 Nov 14; 4(1): 41-45

By Deborah Mitchell| October 17, 2018
Categories:  Care

About the Author

Deborah Mitchell

Deborah Mitchell

Deborah is a freelance health writer who is passionate about animals and the environment. She has authored, co-authored, and written more than 50 books and thousands of articles on a wide range of topics. Currently she lives in Tucson, Arizona. Visit her at

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