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'Miracle' Plant Discovered That Produces Dozens of Cannabinoids, 'New Cannabis' for Therapeutic Use
Written by SOT.COM.AL 7 Maj 2023
Scientists have discovered that a flowering plant produces dozens of cannabinoids, the chemical compounds responsible for the psychoactive and therapeutic properties of cannabis.
The plant in question, which belongs to the broad family Astereaceae, is called umbrella wool and is native to the sunny parts of South Africa. It is one of the 600 species of helichrysum and is characterized by velvety yellow flowers, hence the common name.
Researchers have suspected for decades that it may contain chemicals capable of affecting the brain, as it is used (burned) in some African folk rituals, but with the exception of an older study conducted in Germany that revealed the presence of cannabinoids, until today no investigation had reached the end of the case.
No one has been able to repeat the results obtained decades ago. Today, thanks to new research, we not only know that the umbrella fur produces many cannabinoids, over 40, but that the vast majority of them are unknown, so new therapeutic properties may emerge to complement those already known.
This is a significant discovery mainly for one reason: the cannabinoids of cannabis (of which there are over 120, remaining "best in class") are produced in flowers/inflorescences, which require expensive and unstable treatments to extract.
The fast growing leaves of woolly umbrella, on the other hand, guarantee a much cheaper, more productive and easy to extrapolate resource. Dr. Berman and colleagues also identified the enzymes responsible for their production as belonging to the same family as those of cannabis, and were able to modify brewer's yeast to produce the same cannabinoids as woolly umbrella.
Among the dozens of new cannabinoids identified there may be some with therapeutic properties that should not be underestimated. "The next exciting step would be to determine the properties of the more than 30 new cannabinoids we have discovered and then see what therapeutic uses they might have," said Dr. Berman.