The Botanical Teamwork of Terpenes & Cannabinoids
A struggle is happening in healthcare research these days and it’s not what you might expect. Over the past 50 or so years, the medical industry has shunned many natural compounds. Research scientists have been struggling to gain recognition for their work surrounding natural organic compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids. If you ask me, it’s a breath of fresh air (literally) after years of personal dedication to the power of plants. I find the change in attitude almost silly, but we’ll leave it up to the experts.
Value of Terpenes
Much of the pleasure derived from cannabis is owed to what’s called the terpene synthase family. Many are quick to cast aside terpenes as purely aesthetic. After all, like many organic compounds found in nature, they have been used by mankind for things like perfumes. but when you really consider it you see that terpenes were in every aspect of early humans’ lives. But terpenes were used for more than just frilly things:
- Terpenes in certain plants could be used to deter scavengers and predators.
- Terpenes can dull food taste better, keep longer, and ease certain health conditions too.
- Terpenes can mask unpleasant scents.
Today, the value of terpenes can be found in the growing popularity of cannabinoid therapy. In cannabis, we can see the brilliance of nature. There are 127 identified terpenes, many of which are responsible for solutions to illness and its symptoms. However, cannabinoids seem to get most of the credit for these medicinal benefits. In fact, Canada’s legal program only requires cultivators to quantify the THC and CBD in each strain, regardless of terpene content.
You can imagine my excitement when I heard about Dr. Dedi Meiri and researchers from Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. Dr. Meiri holds a B.Sc in Biochemistry and a PhD in Plant biotechnology, making him uniquely qualified to investigate the therapeutic potential of phytocannabinoids. Not only are they involved in eight clinical trials but they’re also creating an integrated confidential database to study each strain and its chemical compounds in relation to different ailments. The “Cannabis Database Project” will help future patients and healthcare professionals to effectively recommend strains based on this evidence. His laboratory may be the only one in the world that can identify each and every chemical compound in Cannabis that contributes to the “entourage effect” proposed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I recently had the chance to watch Dr. Meiri speak at United In Compassion’s Cannabis Symposium. I urge you to watch the video, but if you don’t have time, I have included a set of quick answers below.
I for one will be keeping my eyes on Dr. Meiri and his team. In researching this piece I emailed one of their team members to see how the studies were going and received a reply the next day. Hopefully we’ll see lots of data coming out of it.
Questions and Answers
Question #1: Are different strains better at treating different types of cancers?
Yes! You can find the answer approximately 26 minutes in.
Cannabinoids treat cancer by causing cell death, a process called Apoptosis. This is a process that all healthy cells have the ability to do in times when they are unneeded or are sick, but cancer cells don’t use this built-in off-switch. Certain cannabinoids force them to do what they should instinctively do, self-destruct. Along the bottom are 12 different extracts made from 12 different Cannabis strains and as you can see, some kill these particular cancer cells better than others.
Question #2: Are individual cannabinoids such as THC and CBD effective when used alone?
No! You’ll find the response approximately 27 minutes in.
Just look at all of these organic chemical compounds! There’s almost no doubt in my mind that they have a purpose and it may be necessary to measure more than just those two main cannabinoids.
Question #3: Do different solvents and extraction methods have different effects on cancer?
Yes! The response is approximately 28:50 minutes in.
As you can see here, the C02 extraction method performs so much better than the Ethanol extraction method. This expands the number of questions I have! Is it because C02 pulls more cannabinoids than the Ethanol?
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About the Author
Dan Cleveland is the VP of Marketing for Boveda Inc.