Cannabis has always been considered a medical and botanical phenomenon, a plant like no other. According to a recent discovery, this may change. Scientists have been experimenting on a rare moss called Liverwort, dissecting it and testing the various substances it contained.
Unexpectedly, a team of researchers discovered that perrottetinene (PET), a chemical one genus of Liverwort produces, is very similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in both form and effect. Have we managed to discover a potential cannabis substitute? Or maybe not? Let’s analyze this groundbreaking discovery and the possible effects it may have on the cannabis community.
Radula marginata – a possible cannabis substitute?
Radula marginata is a genus of the Liverwort species of moss and is endemic to New Zealand. It grows in the form of common weed and the ancient Maori tribes have been using it as herbal medicine for centuries.
Under the criminal law of New Zealand, it’s illegal to possess and redistributed. However, the Maori continue to use it, as it is considered a “taonga” (a holy treasure and a part of heritage) and the authorities do not sanction them for use.
The plant has been used recreationally, with users reporting a mild “high” feeling, but there was no extensive research done. However, everything changed several months ago. Scientists have determined that PET, an integral substance of Radula marginata, is eerily similar to THC. PET is produced naturally, making it only the second plant that contains cannabinoids in the entire natural world.
PET vs. THC
While Radula marginata is far from a confirmed cannabis substitute, we finally have a substantial amount of evidence to support this hypothesis. Researchers have experimented on mice and noticed that both THC and PET bind to the same receptors in our brain, mainly CB1 and CB2, which are cannabinoid receptors.
Testing results have determined that PET is much less potent than THC, in addition to having much lower psychoactive potential. For the medical community, this difference in psychoactive potential is major news.
Why exactly? There are strong indications that cannabinoids from the cannabis plant are adept at battling inflammation within the human organism. However, this benefit is offset by the potency and psychoactive effects of cannabis, making it unfit for frequent use.
When the scientists tested PET on mice, the animals have shown a reduction in body temperature and motor capabilities. What gauged the interest of the research team is the effect of PET on prostaglandins. These small molecules are known “culprits” for many negative processes which deteriorate the human body.
It has been proven that prostaglandins cause hair loss, memory impairment, neuroinflammation and the constriction of blood vessels. No known cannabinoid from cannabis affects prostaglandins, whereas the effects of PET are powerful and observable.
Does this mean we have finally found the true medical cannabis substitute? Nothing is sure yet, but the effects of PET and their eradication of prostaglandins are most certainly promising.
How does PET work?
One major downside of using cannabis as a medical aid is precisely its psychoactive effect. While some people certainly enjoy these effects, there is a large number of patients that dislike being “high.”
Even if they do enjoy this feeling, strong chronic pain requires them to use cannabis in large amounts. Smoking, vaping or ingesting copious amounts of medical cannabis does make daily functioning much more difficult.
Without producing COX-2 inhibition (the result of many popular anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics), perrottetinene can reduce the levels of prostaglandins D2 and E2 within the human brain.
Not only is THC unable to accomplish this, but PEC also doesn’t get you high. This means that there is potential for PEC being used as an effective anti-inflammatory drug, as well as a painkiller.
According to neurologists who have done extensive research on PET, it “has significant potential to be implemented in cases where regular and intensive pain reduction is needed.
Given the fact that PET does actively reduce the levels of prostaglandins within the brain, we may see medications based on PET become standardized, as they don’t carry a risk of intoxication, stomach ulcers, strokes or heart attacks. It is presumed to be safe”.
How may we implement it?
To burst your bubble right away – calling either Radula marginata and PET a cannabis substitute is going too far. While research on its medical applications is promising and incredibly positive for all people in need, PET will never have the cultural nor global impact that cannabis currently has. It is simply just not potent enough to be used recreationally.
However, this doesn’t mean that PET won’t write its own story. Imagine being able to have all the benefits of medical cannabis without adverse effects. Because you won’t be high, you will be able to do your chores, go to work, drive – everything that you would normally do, all while still taking your pain medication.
While Radula marginata won’t be a cultural symbol, one thing is certain – it is the first plant to challenge cannabis for the title of most effective cannabinoid medication provider. This is a wondrous discovery that has changed the way we look at botany and medicine.
Just imagine – what are the chances that only two plants, amidst approximately 400.000 vegetal organisms, possess a potential to benefit cannabinoid medicine?
What’s even more amazing is that these plants aren’t even close relatives in terms of genus. Truly remarkable.
What does the future hold?
We are not yet sure when we’ll see PET medicine sold in pharmacies and recommended to patients, but the basis is there. The discovery has been made, which will result in millions of dollars and millions of hours being devoted to further research.
From a botanical perspective, the appearance of two cannabinoid-producing plants means that there could be much more. We could diversify our choice of medication, as the number of potential sources grows. This important medicinal and botanical discovery is yet to demonstrate its full effects on medicine and humanity as a whole.