Trema micrantha: Scientists Discover CBD Traits in South American Shrub

August 9, 2023 10:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
Trema micrantha: Scientists Discover CBD Traits in South American Shrub

Recent research reaffirms earlier studies that claim that certain non-marijuana plants contain similar compounds found in cannabis, often called cannabinoids. In the new yet-to-be-published study, researchers led by Rodrigo Moura Neto, a Molecular Biologist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, discovered a CBD-like compound in Trema micrantha, a common plant in Brazil.

This new research has increased our hopes for an alternate CBD source, which may increase the availability of CBD-based products, reduce purchase costs, and guarantee THC-free extracts.

CBD, Trema micrantha, and the Study’s Significance

CBD means cannabidiol, one of over a hundred compounds in the cannabis plant, and is widely celebrated as a potential treatment for a long list of health concerns, including chronic pain, epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, and skin allergy. Some have even explored it for its aphrodisiac potential. Most interestingly, the compound delivers these effects without getting you stoned.

Although CBD’s full medical benefits and safety profile are still under review by researchers and appropriate regulators, the compound has successfully scaled several legal roadblocks. Presently, CBD is inarguably the most acceptable compound in cannabis.

While many jurisdictions are still dilly-dallying on legal THC, CBD is legal and flourishing federally across 47 US states and the District of Columbia. Even more, CBD is the first FDA-approved pharmaceutical drug for two rare forms of epileptic seizures in kids.

Although THC, the high-causing compound in cannabis, contains several similar properties and may deliver even more potential health benefits, CBD is generally more acceptable, particularly as it appeals to healthcare seekers and providers who prefer cannabis’ health-giving effects but without its psychoactive ness.

On the other hand, Trema Micrantha, or Florida Trema, is a flowering plant in the Cannabaceae family. Native to Brazil, the plant thrives best in tropical and subtropical geographies, survives most soil and environmental conditions, and is widely considered a weed among natives.

Trema’s fruits serve as food to birds, its foliage provides homes for wildlife, the roots reduce soil erosion, and its attractive physical appeal makes it a popular choice for landscape beautification and air quality improvement.

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Although both cannabis and the Trema Micrantha come from the Cannabaceae family, the researchers found no THC in the Trema Micrantha plant. Being a common weed across Brazil, Trema Micrantha may offer a more accessible, less stigmatized, and cheaper CBD source to the consumers’ community.

While awaiting the official publication of the research for more debt into the study, Neto proposes to further the research to investigate the most efficient extraction methods and whether it delivers the same effects as hemp-sourced cannabis.

Other Non-Cannabis Plants With Cannabinoids-Like Chemicals

Before discovering Trema micrantha and its traits, scientists found cannabinoid-like chemicals in different plants.

Two examples are:

Liverwort genus Radula: Recently, a compound similar to THC was found in the New Zealand liverwort. Named perrottetinenic acid, the new compound acts like THC and also binds to the CB1 receptor as THC does.

Despite the compound’s similarities with THC, it lacked THC’s psychoactive effects. However, historical references showed the plant had been used in traditional medicine to treat bronchitis, gallbladder, liver, and bladder issues, which suggests potential medicinal value.

Wolly Umbrella: Another recent research published in Nature Plants journal found over 40 different cannabinoids in Wolly Umbrella, a dark yellow herb native to South Africa. Among the chemicals identified, Israeli researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science reported Cannabigerol (CBG), the non-psychoactive compound fondly tagged the ‘mother of all cannabinoids’, being the precursor to other cannabinoids.

Like cannabigerol (CBG), the compound showed antidepressant, mood stabilizing, and anti-inflammatory properties.

“The next exciting step would be to determine the properties of the more than 30 new cannabinoids we’ve discovered and then to see what therapeutic uses they might have,” Dr. Berman said in a blog post on the Weizmann official website.

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