Research Team Says They've Unlocked How Cannabis Helps Pain, Now (Of Course) They Want to Profit
It has long been known among cannabis advocates that consuming the plant in just about any activated form results, for most users, in a varying degree of pain relief. Anecdotally, it never has really mattered what strain I was dealing with, cannabis in general has always provided anti-inflammatory relief for my aging body (and mind). Since that relief never seemed to be too strain-specific for me, I never bought into the whole CBD vs. THC debate. In fact, I discourage it and instead encourage the cannabis-curious out there to consider the entourage effect that you can only get with a full spectrum of cannabinoids.
A research team from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada released a paper this week in the peer-reviewed journal Phytochemistry in which they claim to be the first team to have conclusively pinpointed the molecules in marijuana most responsible for the plant’s pain fighting properties. You may be surprised to learn that their trail did not end at CBD or THC, but rather with a couple of important molecules known as cannaflavin A and cannaflavin B.
These “flavonoids” as they are known in the lab were actually first identified in 1985 when researchers at the time (the height of the War on Drugs, mind you) discovered that these trace molecules could provide anti-inflammatory benefits that were nearly 30 times more effective gram-for-gram than over-the-counter aspirin.
Nearly 35 years ago they knew this but, like so much other important research on the cannabis plant, the findings were shelved for over three decades. Now with cannabis legal nationwide in Canada, the team at Guelph decided to dust off the old studies and try to apply newer technology and mindsets to the mysterious flavonoids. This week’s announcement makes the claim that they have essentially reverse engineered cannaflavins A & B to the degree that they now believe that they can “engineer” them “independently from the plant”.
And that, my friends, is why I have always discouraged the “CBD vs. THC” discussion. These damn nerds state outright that their goal is to eliminate the need for weed since they can just geek up what they need in a test tube instead. They argue that cannaflavin A and cannaflavin B are found in too small of quantities in the average cannabis plant to be extracted with a high enough yield. That’s weird because I just smoked half a bowl of Skywalker OG and I can’t feel the arthritis in my hands as I type this.
“The problem with these molecules is they are present in cannabis at such low levels, it’s not feasible to try to engineer the cannabis plant to create more of these substances,” said Professor Steven Rothstein, a co-author of the study. “We are now working to develop a biological system to create these molecules, which would give us the opportunity to engineer large quantities.”
It should come as no surprise then that the study’s two authors has partnered with a third party and has licensed a patent on the biosynthesization of the two specific flavonoids cannaflavin A and cannaflavin B outside of the cannabis plant. They have stated a goal to eventually bring medicated creams, balms, lotions, pills, drinks, and more to the global cannabis market.
So that’s sort of slimy.
But does it negate 34+ years of known findings about the importance of flavonoids?
No, not at all. As the researchers concluded, cannaflavins A & B occur in such small ratios and strains cannot be bred to boost those numbers with any significance. That may be true, but here’s the beautiful part… IT DOESN’T MATTER. This research only validates the importance of the entourage effect mentioned above and is a perfect advertisement for why the full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenoids, and yes, flavonoids is so crucial. Countless cannabis users worldwide have benefitted from the plant’s anti-inflammatory properties for thousands of years. Now these dorks want to extract that one facet, condense it, and put it into a pill – well, pardon my French-Canadian but fuck that, señor.
The cannabis plant and the flowers it produces have proven to be a naturally balanced painkiller that happens to grow like… well, like a weed. As an outspoken aspirin-hater I may be biased but I concur with the fact that my aforementioned rip of Skywalker has (at least) 30x the Force of a Tylenol. The difference is that aspirin doesn’t make Family Guy funnier, my wife’s food tastier, and it is killing hundreds or thousands of people each and every year. Meanwhile, 5000+ years into the great cannabis experiment, still not one death from its use.
But as an evil villain, aspirin pales in comparison to a truly despotic murderer like opioids. These dangerously addictive painkillers, whether obtained with a legit prescription or by other means, send over 1,000 Americans to emergency rooms every day due to misuse. Over 40,000 Americans die annually from overdosing on opioids.
Since an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, and an estimated 11 million Americans are currently abusing prescription pills, that death toll and those trips to the ER will not go away anytime soon.
Cannabis, though, offers an escape from that ongoing crisis. Whereas all of those synthetic opioids only serve to block the PAIN message from reaching your brain, cannabis gets to the root of the problem itself and treats it with the anti-inflammatory properties we have outlined in this article. It doesn’t trick your body (or your mind), it heals it.
So, kudos to the team in Ontario for telling us what we already know. I personally hope that some MJBizCon BlueSuit names his hemp CBD company “CANNAFLAVIN” and causes their proposed product line to collapse and they get back in the lab to continue advancing the study of the plant instead of the profit from it.