The cannabis plant.

This Plant has the Potential to Replace Medical Cannabis

by | Oct 31, 2018 | Latest News, Rotary Evaporators, Vacuum Ovens

The cannabis plant.

Leaves of the cannabis plant.

A Complex Plant

The more we investigate the chemical makeup of cannabis, the more astonished scientists become. So far, over 100 cannabinoids have been identified. These are biochemicals specific to cannabis. Many exist at such low levels, they’re hard for scientists to detect. We’re only just beginning to learn how cannabinoids interact with the human body, particularly these lesser known ones. What’s more, other phytochemicals (plant-based compounds), such as terpenes and flavonoids, play their own role.

Difficulty studying the plant, due to federal illegality, has stymied efforts to understand the complex chemical makeup of cannabis and how it affects human health. So far, there are good indications that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, is helpful for certain intractable, childhood epileptic conditions. It might also help ease pain, increase focus, and decrease anxiety. The most heavily studied cannabinoid has been delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the psychoactive component that induces a euphoria or high.

THC itself has medical uses, such as relieving pain, dizziness, and nausea. In fact, synthetic THC medications are currently prescribed to some cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, in order to help control nausea and stimulate their appetite. THC is also thought to have anti-inflammatory effects. Unfortunately, drug war propaganda has tainted the consciousness of generations against THC. Now, researchers at the University of Bern, Switzerland, may have found a loophole, a moss that produces a THC-like substance that isn’t illegal and hasn’t been maligned.

This Moss is Boss   

The phytochemical the moss contains is called perrottetinene (PET). It was first discovered by Japanese phytochemist Yoshinori Asakawa in 1994. A type of moss called liverwort (Radula perrottetii) produces PET. The compound acts a lot like THC. THC and PET differ slightly in structure–on the molecular level. PET also has an additional benzyl group.

This discovery was nearly lost to science. Just recently, Jürg Gertsch at the University of Bern, Switzerland, rediscovered it, after seeing advertisements on the internet claiming the moss was a source for a legal high. Yet, little was known about the pharmacological effects, until now. Gertsch hooked up with a team of chemists at his university, led by Erick Carreira. They worked to compare the effects of THC and PET on the mammalian brain.

PET was able to enter the brains of mice and interact with cannabinoid receptors there, in much the same way THC does. The anti-inflammatory properties scientists observed were of particular interest. PET reduced inflammation in mice brains better than THC, in this experiment. Why liverwort, a plant that leads a different life from cannabis and reproduces differently, produces a similar phytochemical, is still a mystery.

How do THC and PET Measure up?

First, individual neural cells were tested. Then, each compound was introduced to mice. Both PET and THC slowed subjects’ movements and caused their body temperatures to drop. However, PET proved to be less psychoactive, while instigating a similar–if not more robust–anti-inflammatory response. Another difference, PET was better at suppressing prostaglandins than THC. Prostaglandins are molecules associated with inflammation. What’s more, researchers witnessed no negative effects of PET consumption.

There may be some limitations. First, this was only performed in mouse models. The lion’s share of such drugs effective in mice end up in the dustbin of medical history. More studies will have to be done. Still, these results are encouraging. Even if PET can take the place of THC in clinical settings, the moss may prove difficult to cultivate. It reproduces without seeds and only grows in Japan, New Zealand, and Costa Rica.

The next phase will be testing the compound in animals with inflammatory conditions to see if PET helps. It’ll take years before we know if PET will replace THC in the clinical space. CBD and other cannabinoids, however, show enough promise to see medical cannabis continue to make strides. Surely, PET won’t replace medical cannabis outright, but it may supplant THC in a clinical setting.  

Ai Vacuum

As this trend toward full legalization continues, more and more extractors will require botanical refinement equipment. They’ll likely turn to Ai Vacuum for their needs. This is an industry leader in such equipment. For solvent reclamation, we suggest one of our rotary evaporators.

Our 20-liter is a good choice. It’s durable, easy to use, cost-effective, and churns out perfect, reliable results time after time. Our rotary evaporators have an optimized water bath for a rapid heat-up, a specially designed condenser that’s extremely efficient, and digital temperature and rotation controls, making it simple to use. All PTFE valves and Viton gaskets make it solvent-resistant, ensuring a long life. Note that UL/CSA certification is optional for all of our rotovaps.

Need to perform a butane purge? Our award-winning AccuTemp vacuum ovens are perfect for the job. Our 1.9 model is one of the most popular in the industry. UL/CSA certification comes standard with all AccuTemp models.

One of the most useful features is internal shelf heating technology. Each shelf is heated individually. These ovens are so precise, they have a temperature accuracy of +/- 1°F. Stainless-steel tubing and internal parts provide a deep, consistent vacuum, consistently delivering a perfect purge.

For pesticide remediation or quick winterization, consider one of our jacketed glass reactors. The 50-liter model is a superb choice. Features include a built-in condenser, adjustable stirring speeds, and digital speed and temperature displays, making it easy to use. Solvent-resistant PTFE sealing on all components ensure a long lifespan. It even has a wide temperature capability, from -110°F to 400°F.

A constant pressure feeding funnel allows you to introduce material at a consistent rate. The stirring speed is adjustable, offering high speeds and great torque. And all the glassware is made of high borosilicate glass 3.3, the most cold, hot, and corrosion resistant available.

To learn exactly how THC works in the brain, click here:

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