Helichrysum umbraculigerumor woolly umbrella plant, is a yellow, velvety perennial herb native to South Africa. Recently, Israeli researchers discovered that the plant, which is certainly not part of the cannabis family, produces a number of cannabinoids that, until now, were believed to belong exclusively to the cannabis and cannabis plants. .
The latest discovery could open new avenues for cannabis medicines and treatments. the Stadytitled “Turning a New Leaf on Cannabinoids,” was conducted by researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science and published in the journal Nature plants earlier this month.
Hemp and the mystic umbrella plant
Researchers have studied cannabis and its potential uses for decades. The most well-known cannabinoid tends to be THC, although there have been plenty of other types that have gained popularity over the years, and they have little to no psychoactive effects and can help treat a variety of symptoms and conditions.
While cannabis is known to produce more than 100 different cannabinoids, the research team identified more than 40 cannabis alums that were found in the woolly canopy. They also shared the biochemical steps the plant takes as it produces these compounds and how these steps can be reproduced in the laboratory, to synthesize existing cannabinoids or perhaps engineer new materials not found in nature.
“We have found a major new source of cannabinoids and developed tools for its sustainable production, which can help explore its enormous therapeutic potential.” He said Study leader Dr. Shirley Berman of the Weizmann Institute of Science.
The woolly umbrella plant is a relative of daisies, lettuce, and sunflowers. It can reach up to 1 meter in height and is often used to make garden borders. It has also been known to be burned in folk rituals to release intoxicating fumes, suggesting that there may be more under the surface.
More than four decades ago, German scientists also found evidence that the woolen umbrella contained cannabinoids, although recent studies have failed to reproduce these findings so far. In fact, the research team launched the Mystic Umbrella Study specifically to revisit its relationship to cannabis and its greater potential as a medical aid.
New frontiers for cannabis?
The research team used the latest technology to confirm those early reports. Specifically, they sequenced the entire woolly umbrella genome and used advanced analytical chemistry to identify the cannabinoids it contains. The researchers were also able to reveal the exact structure of more than a dozen of the observed cannabinoids, along with other related metabolites.
They found that cannabinoids make cannabinoids primarily in their leaves, which can be advantageous compared to cannabinoids, which make cannabinoids in their shorter-lived and sometimes difficult-to-harvest flower clusters. Regardless, the researchers found many commonalities between the two plants. In particular, the enzymes used in every step of hemp production belong to the same families.
Researchers found that six of the cannabinoids found in the woolen umbrella are similar to those found in hemp. THC and CBD were not among them, although CBG, or cannabigerol, was. CBG has grown increasingly popular, as research continues to reveal its potential therapeutic benefits. Similar to CBD, cannabis also lacks the mood-altering effects that create a “high.”
With hemp plants specifically, CBG is the main precursor to many popular cannabinoids. Namely, THCA, CBDA, and CBCA all start with the acidic form of CBG, CBGA, which often leaves little CBG to harvest between mature plants. Farmers have discovered alternative solutions to increase CBG production, but the woolen umbrella could pave the way for another solution.
A promising discovery for future exploration
In addition, the researchers note that there is an environmental point of view for further study. Scientists still don’t fully understand why plants produce cannabinoids, although some evidence suggests that they may help deter predators or provide protection from UV rays.
“The fact that in the course of evolution two genetically unrelated plants independently developed the ability to make cannabinoids suggests that these compounds perform important ecological functions,” said Professor Assaf Aharoni, whose lab was used for the study. “More research is needed to determine what these functions are.”
Going forward, the results of the study may allow scientists to engineer cannabinoids not found in nature, allowing for better binding to human cannabinoid receptors or even specific therapeutic effects. Cannabis for the woolly umbrella plant can also have untapped potential.
“The next exciting step will be to characterize the more than 30 new cannabinoids that we have discovered, and then see what therapeutic uses they might have,” Berman said.