Cannabinoids in non-cannabis plants
List of contents
For decades, cannabinoids had been considered unique to the cannabis plant, known for their association with recreational and medical cannabis. However, in a surprising turn of events, science has recently revealed a fascinating discovery: the existence of non-cannabis plants that produce cannabinoids.
These cannabinoids, chemical compounds with unique properties and therapeutic potential, have been found in a variety of plants not previously associated with these substances. This discovery has puzzled scientists and has opened a new window of research, challenging traditional perceptions about the distribution of cannabinoids in the plant kingdom.
In this article, we'll dive into the exciting world of these "non-cannabis plants" that produce cannabinoids, exploring the most notable findings and ongoing studies that are shedding light on this intriguing phenomenon.
Cannabinoids: unique to cannabis?
Until quite recently, the popular belief was that cannabis was the only plant in the plant kingdom capable of producing cannabinoids. Although it was clear that other compounds produced by marijuana, such as terpenes, could be found in other plant species, the same was not the case with cannabinoids, for which it was believed that the only source was the cannabis plant.
As you can imagine, these new findings may have important implications in various fields, from medicine and pharmacology to botany and ecology. Could these plants offer a natural alternative to cannabis in terms of therapeutic benefits without the legal burden of marijuana? What do they tell us about the evolution and diversity of cannabinoid-producing plants?
Join us on this amazing journey as we unravel the mysteries of these unexpected plants and their cannabinoids. Get ready to redefine your conceptions and immerse yourself in a fascinating world where Nature continues to reveal its most amazing secrets!
Helichrysum umbraculigerum, an alternative source of CBG
In an article that came to light in May 2023, a new alternative to cannabis is presented to obtain one of its primary cannabinoids, CBG or cannabigerol. This compound, which in the cannabis plant acts as a precursor to the rest of the most important cannabinoids, has also been found by a group of researchers in a fast-growing plant of the Asteraceae family, the same as sunflowers.
Originally from South Africa, this plant (Helichrysum umbraculigerum) has traditionally been used as medicine by the natives of this area. Well, as published in the Nature Plants magazine, the team of researchers from the Weizmann Institute (Israel) has managed to identify more than 40 cannabinoids in this plant, but not only that; They have also determined the synthesis routes of these compounds, as well as the way to produce them in the laboratory or even design new compounds.
It must be said that, already in 1979, a group of German researchers had found CBG in this variety of Helichrysum, the main precursor of the rest of the cannabinoids. This has been confirmed by the new study, which has also added several other cannabinoids to the list of compounds produced by this plant, mainly in the leaves (and not in the flowers as is the case with cannabis).
Trema micrantha blume, the plant that produces CBD
The results of a study carried out by a group of researchers led by Rodrigo Moura Neto, a biologist at the University of Rio de Janeiro, have recently been released. This study concludes that Trema micrantha blume produces CBD or cannabidiol, something that has surprised not a few cannabis lovers and users. It is a fast-growing shrub very common in Brazil and Latin America, where it grows wild in much of the country and is often considered a wild weed.
Apparently, noteworthy amounts of CBD have been found in the flowers and fruits of this plant, although in no case traces of THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis and, basically, the one responsible for the fact that working with cannabis is not always the easiest thing. Thus, the legal issues derivated from producing CBD, could be solved thanks to the "Trema", as this plant is usually known. Undoubtedly, having an alternative to cannabis to produce CBD would be a dream for many professional producers of this cannabinoid, who would not have to worry about the THC production (however low it may be) of the cannabis plants in their crops and could stop worrying about the legal limits of this psychoactive cannabinoid.
In any case, it remains to be seen if the CBD production from "Trema" will be the same as that achieved with the most popular CBD-rich cannabis varieties among professional growers, and not in terms of the percentage of CBD produced by the plant, but in terms of total CBD production per year and hectare of cultivated land.
"It is a legal alternative to the use of cannabis. This is a plant that grows throughout Brazil. It would be a simpler and cheaper source of cannabidiol (CBD)." Rodrigo Moura Neto
Trema Orientalis Blume: another source of CBD...and THC?
According to another study published in 2021, another team of researchers would have already found a plant capable of producing cannabinoids, in this case, a species of flowering tree from the Cannabaceae family, the same as cannabis. This tree (Trema Orientalis Blume) can be found widely throughout tropical Asia and has been traditionally used for its medicinal properties, especially for the treatment of infectious diseases but also to treat symptoms of diabetes, respiratory diseases, oliguria, and malaria.
In this study, carried out in Thailand, it is concluded that the inflorescences of this tree from all over the Thai territory present THC, CBD, and CBN contents, three of the best-known cannabinoids by the general public. As you may have already appreciated, the curious thing, in this case, is that this plant does produce amounts of THC, something that does not happen in the case of the Brazilian study that we have seen previously. However, as in the previous case, it remains to be seen whether the total production of cannabinoids from this tree can compete with that of the cannabis plant from a market point of view.
Undoubtedly, this series of new studies will open the doors to new and interesting research on this type of compound, which, as we have seen, can be produced by other plants independently of cannabis or marijuana. We will keep you updated!
- Cannabinoids from inflorescences fractions of Trema orientalis (L.) Blume (Cannabaceae) against human pathogenic bacteria, Tiwtawat Napiroon, Keerati Tanruean, Pisit Poolprasert, Markus Bacher, Henrik Balslev, Manop Poopath, and Wichai Santimaleeworagun
- Cannabis Systematics at the Levels of Family, Genus, and Species, John M McPartland
- Trema orientalis Linn. Blume: A potential for prospecting for drugs for various uses, M. B. Adinortey, I. Galyuon, N. O. Asamoah
- Parallel evolution of cannabinoid biosynthesis, Paula Berman, Luis Alejandro de Haro, Adam Jozwiak, Sayantan Panda, Zoe Pinkas, Younghui Dong, Jelena Cveticanin, Ranjit Barbole, Rotem Livne, Tali Scherf, Eyal Shimoni, Smadar Levin-Zaidman, Nili Dezorella, Ekaterina Petrovich-Kopitman, Sagit Meir, Ilana Rogachev, Prashant D. Sonawane, Asaph Aharoni