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A Year in Review
2019 was an incredible year for cannabis research. Cannabis is becoming more socially accepted with each passing year as more states continue to legalize its use. Still, researchers are continuously discovering new functional aspects of this astonishing plant every day.
Scientists have discovered new compounds, the ways in which cannabis trumps dangerous opioids, and even how cannabis might help save bees around the world. So without further ado, here are the top four cannabis-related discoveries made this past year that you probably never heard about.
#1 A Potent Anti-Inflammatory Compound In Cannabis Solved
One significant discovery this year is that two flavonoids found in cannabis, cannflavin A and cannflavin B, have strong pain-relieving abilities in chronic arthritis. These two compounds are about 30 times greater than aspirin at relieving pain.
The mechanism of action discovered is that cannflavin A and B stop pro-inflammatory enzymes, majorly reducing overall inflammation. On top of that, these compounds are non-psychoactive, which means they have a vast potential to become socially acceptable medicine.
“... hopefully, with a little time and effort, natural and new pain-relieving drugs can be developed to help those in need.”
Another exciting thing about these compounds is that so far, they’re only produced and found on cannabis sativa plants. Despite many plants producing flavonoids, cannflavin A and B are specific to cannabis due to a unique mechanism (prenyltransferase).
This particular mechanism is what researchers became interested in and ended up solving this year. Now that researchers know how these elusive compounds are created, they can begin to produce the flavonoids in a controlled setting to research them more in-depth.
This means that hopefully, with a little time and effort, natural and new pain-relieving drugs can be developed to help those in need.
#2 Cannabis Can Help Save The Bees
In a recently published study, researchers in New York hypothesized that cannabis might aid in the recovery of bee populations. As we all know, bee populations have been on the decline in recent years due to intensified agriculture production, alongside widespread insecticide and pesticide usage.
“When hemp plants are introduced to a region, they flower in late summer, providing much-needed pollen to bees during a time when it might be scarce.”
Bees are crucial to the environment for pollinating many plant species; in fact, much of our food crops rely mainly on bees for pollination. So it goes without saying that we need to save the bees to ensure the survival of the human race, and cannabis might do just that.
In the study, researchers argue that because of the scale of modern agriculture, there's a limited amount of pollen in any given space. When hemp plants are introduced to a region, they flower in late summer, providing much-needed pollen to bees during a time when it might be scarce.
The researchers also found that not only were a lot of different types of bees visiting the hemp plants, mainly A. mellifera, the most critical bee species for agriculture. Most importantly, they found that bees used the hemp MORE in agricultural landscapes such as farms.
This means that the more natural the environment, the less bees need to rely on hemp. However, hemp is being planted in intensive agriculture areas, which could help bees survive in these places.
Overall, it seems that bees love hemp for the amount of pollen it produces and the fact that it provides a lot of it at a critical time. This is great for bees because hemp is being planted more and more plentifully as laws are becoming more relaxed. Hopefully, this trend continues, and we can lend a helping hand back to the insects that provide us with such an invaluable service.
#3 Cannabis Reduces Opioid Use
Although this might not seem like a shocking revelation to some, it’s essential to have a thorough scientific analysis when receiving this kind of data. Researchers in Canada performed a study between people illegally using opioids and those using cannabis for pain management.
They began the experiment by first gathering over 1,000 participants who reported having chronic pain within the last three years. Then, they studied those who used illegal opioids and those who used cannabis separately.
“...those who used cannabis daily were up to 50% less likely to use opioids when compared to non-cannabis users.”
They found that those who used cannabis daily were up to 50% less likely to use opioids when compared to non-cannabis users. On the other hand, those who used cannabis sometimes were not more or less likely to use opioids than non-cannabis users.
This study is critical because it signifies that cannabis is effective at relieving pain and reducing opioid usage, which has become rampant and dangerous in recent years.
The researchers state that a controlled trial must still be performed in the future. However, this simple analysis reveals what many people already believe to be true - that cannabis is a much safer alternative for pain management than opioids.
#4 CBD Can Be Used As A Weapon Against Superbugs
A growing threat to human health worldwide is the emergence of ‘superbugs'. These superbugs are bacteria that can infect and make people violently ill or possibly cause death.
The bacteria responsible for these infections have been around for a long time; they’re nothing new actually. The threat is that these superbugs have become resistant to typical methods of treatment, such as using antibiotics.
“Researchers have been racing to find new types of medicines so that we’re not left completely defenseless against these dangerous microbes.”
Doctors have relied on antibiotics to deal with these microscopic threats for decades, but bacteria are continually adapting and evolving. Researchers have been racing to find new types of medicines so that we’re not left completely defenseless against these dangerous microbes.
A new study (not yet released) has shown that CBD can actually be a powerful antibiotic agent. Researchers tested CBD against antibiotic-resistant strains of Staphylococcus (staph) and Streptococcus (strep) microbes, and CBD worked just as well as other powerful antibiotics.
The company responsible for the study is now in the process of producing an antibiotic medicine using CBD. Scientists are always on the hunt to find new antimicrobial drugs, and cannabis has proven to be a powerful tool once again.
More Exciting Discoveries Ahead
With 2019 behind us, we can only expect many more new and exciting cannabis-related discoveries on the horizon. Researchers are busy studying the effects of minor cannabinoids, such as CBG and CBN - as well as terpenes and flavonoids.
Cannabis is here to stay, and we are eagerly looking forward to what 2020 holds concerning cannabis research and new scientific findings!