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Revolutionizing Cannabis: The Power of the Entourage Effect and Compound Analysis

Updated: Mar 24

In the realm of cannabis research, the spotlight has traditionally been on the plant's primary active components, cannabinoids, such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). These compounds have garnered much attention for their therapeutic potentials and psychoactive effects. However, a burgeoning body of research suggests that a holistic approach, leveraging a blend of the cannabis plant's myriad compounds, could offer enhanced therapeutic benefits while mitigating adverse side effects—a concept known as the "entourage effect."



A landmark study in 2020, titled "Secondary Metabolites Profiled in Cannabis Inflorescences, Leaves, Stem Barks, and Roots for Medicinal Purposes," embarked on a comprehensive exploration of the cannabis plant's chemical profile. Researchers investigated three cannabis strains, identifying and quantifying 14 cannabinoids, 47 terpenoids (comprising 29 monoterpenoids, 15 sesquiterpenoids, and three triterpenoids), three sterols, and seven flavonoids across various plant parts.


Key findings highlighted the concentration disparities among these compounds: inflorescences were rich in cannabinoids (16-20%), terpenoids (1-2%), and flavonoids (approximately 0.1%), while leaves contained lower levels of cannabinoids (1-2%) and terpenoids (0.1-0.3%) but higher flavonoid content (0.3-0.4%). The stem bark was predominantly composed of sterols (0.07-0.08%) and triterpenoids (0.05-0.15%), and roots featured similar sterol concentrations (0.06-0.09%) with increased triterpenoid levels (0.13-0.24%).



Terpenoids, for instance, may modulate the body's response to cannabinoids or exhibit independent health benefits. Flavonoids, known for their anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, alongside neuroprotective effects, represent another layer of the plant's medicinal potential. Specifically, the compound friedelin, identified in the cannabis roots, has shown promise in addressing inflammation, cancer, and liver health concerns. Additionally, plant sterols from cannabis could offer cholesterol-lowering benefits.


The study also delved into optimal extraction techniques for these compounds, revealing that manual grinding yielded a higher cannabinoid extraction rate (17.5%) than electric blending (12%). It highlighted methanol as a preferable solvent for cannabinoid extraction due to its lower toxicity compared to a methanol-chloroform mix.


Interestingly, sonication—using sound waves for plant material breakdown—showed no significant advantage over simple maceration in cannabinoid extraction efficiency. Moreover, the research suggested that extraction temperature and the number of extraction cycles could influence the yield of cannabinoids, sterols, and triterpenoids.


In essence, this comprehensive analysis not only illuminates the vast potential of cannabis's secondary metabolites in medicinal applications but also guides future research and extraction methodologies. It underscores the necessity of a holistic approach in cannabis research and therapy, moving beyond singular compound isolation to embrace the plant's full spectrum of beneficial components.


As we continue to unravel the complexities of the cannabis plant, such studies pave the way for innovative therapeutic strategies rooted in ancient wisdom yet refined by modern science.


 


References:


Jin D, Dai K, Xie Z, Chen J. Secondary Metabolites Profiled in Cannabis Inflorescences, Leaves, Stem Barks, and Roots for Medicinal Purposes. Sci Rep. 2020 Feb 24;10(1):3309. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-60172-6. PMID: 32094454; PMCID: PMC7039888


Kumar K, Srivastav S, Sharanagat VS. Ultrasound assisted extraction (UAE) of bioactive compounds from fruit and vegetable processing by-products: A review. Ultrason Sonochem. 2021 Jan;70:105325. doi: 10.1016/j.ultsonch.2020.105325. Epub 2020 Sep 1. PMID: 32920300; PMCID: PMC7786612.



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