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Is liverwort medically more effective than cannabis?
The medical use of cannabis is becoming increasingly popular. The active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in cannabis has been shown to alleviate pain, muscle cramps, dizziness and loss of appetite. However, cannabis is also widely used as an illegal narcotic, has a psychoactive effect, can make you addicted and promote psychosis. A rare moss is currently being researched that has the same benefits of THC but less disadvantages. Can liverwort outstrip cannabis?
For the first time, researchers from Switzerland have examined a THC-like substance from the liver moss "Radula perrottetii" with regard to medical use. As reported by the team from the University of Bern and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, the substances from liver moss, the so-called perrottetins, can achieve a THC-like analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect that is superior to cannabis. The research results were recently published in the scientific journal "Science Advances".
Cannabis is considered to be unrivaled
In medicine, the active ingredient THC is used increasingly against certain types of pain, cramps, dizziness and loss of appetite. After a year of medical cannabis, demand is increasing. Overall, the positive aspects in needy are classified as predominant. The strong psychoactive effect also makes cannabis popular for abuse. The hemp plant has so far been the only plant in the world from which THC can be obtained. The active substance was first isolated from cannabis by Raphael Mechoulam at the Weizmann Institute in Israel in 1964.
Liver moss as the first cannabis opponent
For a long time, researchers assumed that hemp is the only plant from which THC can be obtained. In 1994, however, the Japanese plant chemist Yoshinori Asakawa discovered THC-related substances in the liver moss "Radula perrottetii" that only grows in Japan, New Zealand and Costa Rica. He called these natural ingredients Perrottetinen. Lebermoos can be bought and consumed as a legal intoxicant in Switzerland. According to the Swiss researchers, the moss is more effective than cannabis from a medical point of view.
Discovered as a legal intoxicant on the Internet
In the investigations, the team was able to arrange the Perrottetinen atoms three-dimensionally for the first time. This showed a striking similarity to the THC. "It is astonishing that only two plant genera, which are 300 million years apart in development history, produce psychoactive cannabinoids," reports Jürg Gertsch from the University of Bern in a press release on the study results. He discovered the liverworts on the Internet, which were offered as legal intoxicants. From a scientific point of view, not much was known about it at the time.
Liver moss versus cannabis
The research team now wanted to change this. In mice, the researchers were able to show that perrottetins get into the brain very easily and activate the same receptors as THC, the so-called cannabinoid receptors. The team found that the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of the moss agents are stronger than those from cannabis. "This makes Perrottetinen interesting for a medical application," write the researchers.
Why is liverwort better suited for medical purposes?
As numerous studies have already shown, THC has great therapeutic potential in chronic diseases. However, it is used relatively little because higher doses are highly psychoactive. Andrea Chicca from the research team explains the advantages of perrottetins: "This natural substance is less psychoactive and could at the same time block inflammatory processes in the brain." In particular, perrottetins inhibit the inflammatory prostaglandins in the brain. These tissue hormones are responsible for pain, blood clotting, inflammation and many other negative processes.
Will liverworts replace cannabis?
According to the researchers, the perrottetins can dock on to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which are actually intended for the body's own endocannabinoids, just like the THC. "To do cannabinoid research, you need solid basic research in the field of biochemical and pharmacological mechanisms, as well as controlled clinical studies," summarizes Gertsch. Further studies are needed to assess the medical suitability of perrottetins from liver moss. (vb)