Once dismissed as a harmful drug, marijuana, hemp, and the entire world of cannabis has finally started showing its true potential. Though cannabis has been cultivated since 6,000 years, it's recent legal status has begun the medical research of the earthly plant. The use of marijuana and weed is known to get "high" and enjoy, but, contrary to popular belief, it has many medicinal properties that are being explored and appreciated by many patients.
Medical use of Marijuana has been limited to the two main compounds of the cannabis plant - CBD and THC. We all know these two are responsible for every good that we experience when consuming the heavenly strains. Before cannabis is processed, these two compounds are present in their acidic form - THCA and CBDA. These acidic compounds are found abundantly in the cannabis plant, making it easier to consume them for recreational and medical purposes.
With THC and CBD dominating the discussions, it was natural for the researchers to put their focus on these chemical compounds and acclaim them for the versatile therapeutic effects. However, with legalization and its varied medicinal and psychological benefits, it was only fair to explore the many other cannabinoids and compounds present in the cannabis plant.
The cannabis researchers, when moved away from THC and CBD, found that these were not the only compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, it is believed that there are far many compounds with more potent pain-relieving properties than the two.
The honour belongs to another family of cannabis compounds called "flavonoids". Found in many plants, they offer antioxidant, anticancer and neuroprotective properties to humans and animals.
Flavonoids - Cannflavin A and Cannflavin B
Cannabis research always leads to an interesting turn as the plant remains widely unexplored due to its illegal status. With the world finally opening up to the earthly goodness, the astonishing array of medical and therapeutic properties is beginning to be explored.
Flavonoids are present in almost every plant. But there are two flavonoids that are specific to the Cannabis Sativa - namely Cannflavin A and Cannflavin B which were discovered in 1981. Since these two stood apart from the general flavonoids, scientists got interested more into these two.
In 1985, the researchers found that Cannflavin A and Cannflavin B provided anti-inflammatory benefits that were approximately thirty times more effective than aspirin, the most common over-the-counter pain relief medicine.
After two decades, in 2014, a study was published which explained the behaviour of the two flavonoids and how they were better than Aspirin. Even though, after extensive study, there was no data on their biosynthesis until researchers in Canada of the University of Guelph uncovered how the cannabis plant creates these important and medicinal molecules.
"Our objective was to better understand how these molecules are made, which is a relatively straightforward exercise these days," emphasises Tariq Akhtar, a molecular and cellular biologist at the University of Guelph.
"There are many sequenced genomes that are publicly available, including the genome of Cannabis sativa, which can be mined for information. If you know what you're looking for, one can bring genes to life, so to speak, and piece together how molecules like cannflavins A and B are assembled."
The researcher's team in Canada used a combination of genomics and biochemistry techniques to identify which genes were responsible for creating these two beneficial Cannflavins. However, while talking to The Toronto Star, Akhtar explained that Cannflavins is only 0.014% of the cannabis plant's weight which makes it impractical to extract them. Fields of cannabis plants would have to be grown to make use of these beneficial molecules.
The University of Guelph, Canada has already filed a patent with the Toronto-based company, Anahit International Corp. Researchers are trying to metabolically engineered pain-relieving medicine outside of cannabis plants.
Steven Rothstein, who is studying molecular and genetic qualities of crop plants at the University of Guelph and co-authored the research, emphasises the difficulty saying "The problem with these molecules is they are present in cannabis at such low levels, it's not feasible to try to engineer the cannabis plant to create more of these substances,"
The future of cannabis
Cannabis was already used to combat pain, depression, anxiety and other diseases. With head shops like Olivastu who bring a wide range of smoking paraphernalia to the UK market, the world of smoking legal herbs and concentrates was the only way forward for many medicinal and recreational users.
The popularity of this particular headshop comes from its robust customer service, free shipping, and a wide range of products. Then came cannabis edibles, which paved the way for those who didn't like to smoke. This viable alternative to pain medication will further pave the way forward and help the healthcare industry which is already facing a crisis. Let's keep our eyes and ears open for the next big discovery which will help millions out there who lose their sleep over chronic pain and diseases.
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