It is no secret that cannabis contains compounds that are more effective and safer than Aspirin. Scientists have known about these particular agents for decades. The prohibition of cannabis, however, has made researching these compounds in-depth nearly impossible, that is, until very recently. The compounds are something scientists call flavinoids. These are the chemicals that give marijuana plants their specific color. Cannflavin A and Cannflavin Bm, to be precise, are the two main cannabis flavonoids that have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.
Even more exciting is that it’s now believed that these flavinoids are as much as 30 times more potent than Aspirin. Also, scientists have no current concerns about the long-term usage of these unique cannabis compounds as anti-inflammatory agents.
“This is very typical of many natural products that have therapeutic value,” assistant professor at the University of Guelph’s department of molecular and cellular biology, Tariq Akhtar, said to the Toronto Star.
Research has been extremely slow due to the high cost of extracting them from cannabis.
“You can’t just grow fields and fields of the plant and expect to get enough of the bioactive compound out of them, because they’re in such low amounts and, since they’re complex chemicals, they’re hard to get at,” explained Akhtar. “Extracting and purifying them is possible, but it’s not economically viable.”
Meaning, typical cannabis plants possess such small amounts of Cannflavin A and Cannflavin B that it would take tons of matter to process even the smallest amounts. That means that it would be so expensive to produce medicine based on the compounds that consumer costs would be incredibly high.
However, that could all change rather quickly. Thanks to recent research completed by Akhtar and his team, the exact genes that create Cannaflavin A and Cannaflavin B in cannabis plants. It is a breakthrough that may allow researchers to begin producing much larger amounts of the two compounds without the need for tons of marijuana.
For now, it’s still too early to know how the new manufacturing process will turn out. That said, Akhtar and his team remain hopeful and steadfast in their work. It is their goal to successfully discover a replacement for opioids that are ravaging the United States.
“What’s interesting about the molecules in cannabis is that they stop inflammation at the source,” said Akhtar. “And most natural products don’t have the toxicity that’s associated with over-the-counter pain relief drugs, which, even though they’re very effective, do come with health risks. So, looking at natural products as an alternative is a very attractive model.”
In large part, it is thanks to the federal legalization of cannabis in Canada last year that this breakthrough is even possible. As laws on cannabis continue to change across North America (and the world in general), who knows what exciting discoveries will be made by teams like Akhtar’s.