Le cannabis is known for its marked effects on the human body. Sometimes considered as a huge opportunity, sometimes demonized, it largely owes its reputation to a family of molecules that act directly on the body: cannabinoids. But is hemp really the only plant species to produce it? The answer is in fact sharper than it seems, but there is undoubtedlyother plants with similar effects ! A brief overview.
Cannabinoids and phytocannabinoids: what's the difference?
The term phytocannabinoids comes in opposition to that ofendocannabinoids, molecules with identical effects, but produced by animals and humans and not by plants. Phytocannabinoids are also distinguished from artificial cannabinoids, or synthetic, also produced by humans, but this time in the laboratory and not naturally. They are therefore quite simply cannabinoids produced by plants.
Phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids and artificial cannabinoids are therefore all indiscriminately cannabinoids. The qualifier added to them only mentions where they are produced. In all cases, these are chemicals capable ofactivate our endocannabinoid system (SEC), intervening in particular inbalance of our nervous system and our immune system.
The best known of these are the Δ9‐Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). However, there are dozens of them, certainly even hundreds, all having more or less marked and diverse effects on our body.
What about cannabimetics in all of this?
It is also not uncommon to read or hear the term cannabimimetics. It is simply a term created to refer to molecules whose composition strangely resembles that of cannabinoids, so much so that they can also act on the endocannabinoid system. As they “mimic” the effects of cannabinoids, we readily speak of mimicry, which earned them their name.
The term experienced some popularization after the publication of a study published in 2010 by the British Journal of Pharmacology entitled Phytocannabinoids beyond the cannabis plant - do they exist? ("Phytocannabinoids beyond the cannabis plant - do they exist?). Their study proved that the SEC can be activated by other molecules than endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by the human body) or the now known cannabinoids produced by cannabis (CBD, THC and many others).
Some protein, acidsbut also terpenes can thus interact with one and / or the other of the SEC sensors (called CB1 and CB2), for more or less marked effects. This is what is often worth the reputation of other plants for producing cannabinoids. In fact, it is more accurate to speak of cannabimetics.
Flowers, herbs, mushrooms: some varieties producing cannabinoids (or almost)
Whatever name we give them, many varieties of plants, and even fungi, are able to act on our body through the SEC. Here are a few examples.
Asteraceae (flowers of the daisy family)
If their name may be unknown to you, you have certainly seen them in a garden. Asteraceae are indeed very common because of their very decorative pink petals. Originally from the United States, they are nevertheless known beyond their aestheticism since they can activate CB2 receptors thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties similar to those of THC.
The reputation of chocolate as a provocator of pleasure is well established. It is mainly due to the properties of cocoa, containing in particular what is commonly called " happiness molecule ". It is more preciselyanandamide, a neurotransmitter acting on memory, emotions or motor activity.
La black truffle, contrary to what its taste suggests, has points in common with cocoa. Much older than hemp, this fungus nevertheless produces, according to Italian researchers, a happiness provoking molecule able to bind to CB1 receptors.
Many cult cannabis strains are distinguished by pronounced notes of pepper. More than a coincidence in terms of flavors, pepper and hemp actually share a common terpene: beta-caryophyllene, known for its powerful and very special smell. It is also renowned for its anti-inflammatory qualities. It is therefore little wonder that early studies suggest that it would be able to bind to CB2 receptors.
Bad reputation of cannabis: why is it the only one to suffer from it?
Le cannabis is by far the plant that has the the most abundant and varied cannabinoid production. Although its side effects appear to be less than some of the examples cited above, it is also the most stigmatized. The fault is undoubtedly marked effects and, above all, its worldwide fame.
Only a limited segment of the world's population consumes it. However, there is not a country, not a culture, which does not have knowledge of the plant and its effects. The other varieties presented here, on the contrary, have only one more anecdotal production of cannabimimetics, and especially characteristics little known to the general public, or only locally. The long tradition of domestication, cultivation and hybridization of hemp throughout the world owes it its (good or bad) reputation throughout the world.
Le development of the legal cannabis market now encourages the arrival on the market of new varieties rich in CBD and almost devoid of THC. In promoting beneficial effects of one (appeasement, relaxation, pain relief) and erasing the planing effects as well as the addictive nature of the other, the cannabis light could well finally allow cannabis to get rid of its bad reputation.
The decades to come should therefore be decisive in terms of the way we look at the plant, and perhaps also allow us to benefit from the virtues of other plants still too little known.