Terpens medicinals | CBD project


Terpenes produce more than just odors. These secret weapons and key communicators in the plant world, so far about 20,000 different chemicals have been identified, can also induce a wide range of biological effects. There is evidence that some plant terpenes can improve cognition, block pain, kill harmful bacteria, cause hallucinations, inhibit inflammation, fight cancer, get sick, reduce stress and increase you.

In the world of cannabis, terpenes are a growing topic of interest. Project CBD recently informed in a new study that used analytical chemistry to determine key differences between cannabis samples labeled as Sativa and Indica. The researchers found no evidence of the common assumption that these two terms represent different genetic lineages, nor was there any significant difference between them in terms of cannabinoid profile. Ultimately, it all came down to a handful of terpenes like farnesene, myrcene, and eudesmol, compounds that, along with even less studied flavonoids, simultaneously influence the taste and effect of cannabis.

As scientists continue to study terpenes and their place not only in the world of cannabis, but in all herbal medicine, new and sometimes surprising discoveries about these fascinating plant compounds come out almost weekly.

Bad for cancer cells, good for brain health?

Beta-caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene (consisting of three units of isoprene1) famous for contributing to the spiciness of black pepper. It is also found in cannabis, cloves, hops, rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, basil and more. As a result of its presence in so many common foods and spices, it has received significant scientific attention over the past two decades, especially after the discovery in 2008 that beta-caryophyllene binds to CB2 cannabinoid receptor, making it the first known “dietary cannabinoid”.

In the last month, two more articles have been added to the evidence base of the potential healing powers of beta-caryophyllene. First, a team of Italian researchers reported in the journal Molecules2 than hemp flower extracts containing three different terpene forms, as well as non-intoxicating cannabinoids CBD i CBC they were toxic to triple-negative breast cancer cells. Most of this cytotoxicity was attributed to CBD, write the authors, with CBC and the caryophyll increasing its strength: a classic case of the follow-up effect.

One week later, a newspaper in the Journal of Food Biochemistry3 draws attention to a completely different result: improved cognitive function. A team of researchers affiliated with an Indian company was called Herbya Vidya fed a black pepper seed extract, standardized to contain 30% beta-caryophyllene, to mice pretreated with a drug that induces an animal model of dementia. The extract reported that it restored spatial recognition and spatial memory in these mice in a dose-dependent manner, as measured in a couple of behavioral tests, and also improved biological markers of cognitive function and exercised anti-inflammatory effects on the brain. Although intriguing, these findings should be taken with caution given the authors’ affiliation with a private company that produces the extract in question (Vifilina) and its open conclusion that “our data promote vifillin as a functional ingredient / dietary supplement for brain health and cognition.”

Reduce pain through the endocannabinoid system

Two other recent articles highlight the ability of certain terpenes to alleviate different forms of pain. In a study published in October 2021 in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research4, a team of Brazilian researchers, collaborating with the beloved cannabinoid scientist Vincenzo di Marzo of the Italian National Research Council, tested the pain-blocking effect of kahweol, a coffee diterpene.

By administering CB1 i CB2 receptor antagonists, the researchers found that kahweol reduces the sensations of pain through the endocannabinoid system, more specifically, by releasing the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide and activating it. CB1 receivers. “This compound could be used to develop new drugs to relieve pain,” they conclude, although many of us are already smelling and drinking it every day.

A second study looked at the ability of terpenes derived from cannabis alpha-bisabolol (which imparts a floral fragrance and is also found in chamomile) and canfen (the scent of which is most often described as “pungent”) to inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain. . As reported in Molecular Brain5, the authors found that both molecules demonstrated “a broad spectrum of analgesic action” by modulating T-type calcium channels in the brain, previously recognized as targets of some phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids.

Fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a serious concern in hospitals, health centers, and other settings where people are in close physical contact or share equipment or supplies. Infection with this bacterium, which spreads through the skin, is often harmless, but in some cases it can also cause sepsis or death because it is very difficult to treat due to its resistance to common antibiotics.

Many terpenes are known to have potent antibacterial properties; after all, this is part of what plants do to them. A team of researchers based in the Czech Republic and Italy has now reported in the journal Natural products research6 that two hitherto uncharacterized diterpens of the plant Coleus blumei Demonstrate antibacterial activity against MRSA.

Interestingly, this common nursery plant, bred to produce a wide variety of cultivars for ornamental use in home gardens, has also historically been consumed by the natives of Mexico for its psychoactive effects. In his book Plants of the gods, ethnobotanist Richard Evan Schultes, chemist Albert Hofmann, and anthropologist Christian Rätsch point out that Coleus has some similarities with Salvia divinorum, a powerful and dissociative hallucinogen also found in Mexico. The active ingredient in this plant is a unique diterpene called Salivorine A, which produces its effects through kappa opioid receptors.

I could Coleus terpens ser psychoactive in addition to antimicrobials? As Schultes et al. he wrote 20 years ago in the revised version of his groundbreaking book (first published in 1979), and evidently still today, “Chemistry and pharmacology need to be further investigated.”

Nate Seltenrich, a freelance science journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area, covers a wide range of topics such as environmental health, neuroscience, and pharmacology.

Copyright, Project CBD. Cannot reprint without permission.


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