A Weird Moss Could Become The New Alternative To Cannabis

A couple of years ago, a Swiss biochemist came across a substance derived from a strange mossy plant that was being sold online as a “legal high” (obviously, they were only searching this for research purposes). After carrying out some pharmaceutical research on the moss, they discovered that its active ingredient exerts a similar but superior pain-killing and anti-inflammatory effect to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis.

It’s early days, but the researchers say it has the potential to become a more effective medical alternative to cannabis.

Back in 1994, Japanese phytochemist Yoshinori Asakawa discovered that the liverwort (Radula perrottetii)-a rare moss native to Japan, New Zealand, and Costa Rica – produced a natural substance known as perrottetinene (PET). He foundthat PET isrelated to THC in thatindividual atoms are linked together in a similarfashion, although they differ in their three-dimensional structure and they haveanadditional benzyl group.

“It’s astonishing that only two species of plants, separated by 300 million years of evolution, produce psychoactive cannabinoids,” lead author Jrg Gertschsaid in astatement

Researchers from the University of Bern in Switzerland have been exploring the effects of PET and how it compares to its cannabis derived-cousin. As reported in the journal Science Advances, they dosed up a number of mice – one group with an injection of PET and another with THC.

ThePET quickly activated the cannabinoid receptors inthe mice’s brains. Furthermore, it appeared to express an even stronger anti-inflammatory effect than THC. On the other hand, they don’t believe the mice becametoo stoned asit didn’tactivate the cannabinoid receptors associated with the euphoric high as prolifically as THC.

“This natural substance has a weaker psychoactive effect and, at the same time, is capable of inhibiting inflammatory processes in the brain,” Andrea Chicca, from the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bern,added.

The researchershope that their work pavesthe wayfor the therapeutic use ofPET,similar to howTHC is used totreatvarious chronic illnesses. However, considering PEThas only been used on a small number of animal models, the researchers caution there is a lot of work to be done before it’s hailed as the next wonder drug.

“Both solid fundamental research in the field of biochemical and pharmacological mechanisms as well as controlled clinical studies are required to carry out cannabinoid research,” added Gertsch.

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