Better Than Cannabis? Swiss Scientists Unlock A Chemical Compound In New Zealand Moss That Functions Like THC

Monday, 29 October 2018 - 11:54AM
Monday, 29 October 2018 - 11:54AM
Better Than Cannabis? Swiss Scientists Unlock A Chemical Compound In New Zealand Moss That Functions Like THC
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A team of scientists in Switzerland conducted a study revealing that a chemical compound in an obscure moss-like plant native to New Zealand and Australia works similarly to THC, according to recent reports by Science Alert. If the findings of the study are verified it could have major effects on medicine and may even result in different kinds of dispensaries popping up around the globe.

The plant of the hour is liverwort (which doesn't roll off the tongue as smoothly as "cannabis" does). Researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland used mice to study the effects of perrottetinene (PET) on the brain. The test subjects injected with PET became less active for longer periods of time and felt less pain. The scientists found that while the medicinal effects were similar, PET didn't provide the same kind of "high" as THC because it doesn't activate the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors as strongly and doesn't trigger the cells that produce molecules associated with that euphoria. "This natural substance has a weaker psychoactive effect, and at the same time, is capable of inhibiting inflammatory processes in the brain," first author Andrea Chicca said in a statement. That may sound like its taking all the fun out of the experience, but the researchers found that the substance comes with fewer of the side effects associated with cannabis.

"In a direct comparison I think perrottetinene is the better version of THC," lead researcher and biochemist Jürg Gertsch told Motherboard, advocating for its future use in medical environments (PET has been used by indigenous people in New Zealand for centuries). Different countries have different laws concerning the growing and selling of weed and other cannabis products, so the hope is that finding an alternative would be a way to get around the cannabis stigma and make things easier – but developing ways to create the compound, test it, and figure out dosage could take years. It looks like, for the Swiss, figuring out the legal issues with cannabis might be a smarter play... But that doesn't mean that Team Liverwort shouldn't continue their important work.
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