Photo By: Dope Foto
Nevada, like many other new cannabis markets has experienced consumer demand for high THC cannabis flowers. Consumers have associated higher THC numbers with a stronger “high”, but this can be an incorrect correlation. The most potent strains of Jamaican cannabis, known for its long history of superb cannabis cultivation, frequently have THC levels in the 15 to 17% range.
Nevada, like many other new cannabis markets has experienced consumer demand for high THC cannabis flowers. Consumers have associated higher THC numbers with a stronger “high”, but this can be an incorrect correlation. The most potent strains of Jamaican cannabis, known for its long history of superb cannabis cultivation, frequently have THC levels in the 15 to 17% range. The reason these strains produce potent effects is because of the entourage effect. The term entourage effect has been used to describe the synergistic interaction that occurs when cannabinoids, terpenes, and many other lesser known compounds present in cannabis flowers are consumed. The lack of clinic trials and well-designed scientific studies has limited our understanding of this effect, but as we learn more about the compounds present in cannabis, we will learn more about how they interact in the human body. Nearly 500 pharmacologically-active compounds have been identified in cannabis. It is very likely that many more compounds will be identified as more scientists are permitted to study cannabis.
Laboratory testing of medicinal and adult-use cannabis has introduced consumers to some terpenes and cannabinoids, but correlating laboratory results to anticipated effects can be challenging and dependent on the individual. Terpenes are very potent and are thought to influence animal and human behavior when inhaled; these effects can occur at serum concentrations of less than 10 ng/ml. Cannabinoid ratios and terpene profiles likely significantly influence the effects, flavors, scents, and potential medicinal benefits provided by a strain, but they are not the only compounds involved in producing these effects. In addition to more than 80 cannabinoids and 130 terpenes, cannabis contains non cannabinoid phenols, pigments, flavonoids, anthocyanins, stilbenoids, alkaloids, elements, steroids, nitrogen compounds, amino acids, proteins, lignan amides, and various other small molecules.
While very little information has been published on many of these less prevalent compounds found in cannabis, limited research has suggested some can produce a variety of potential health benefits. Like terpenes, flavonoids are also found in many other fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. There are more than 6,000 naturally occurring flavonoids. One group of flavonoids called anthocyanins are responsible for many of the different pigments in nature such as the blue in blueberries, red in cherries, and the purple in some cannabis strains. Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants; they do not have an aroma but they contribute to taste. Other flavonoids possess anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, anti-neurodegenerative, anti-cancer, and powerful antioxidant qualities. Apigenin, orientin, kaempferol, and quercetin are a few flavonoids that have been found in cannabis. There are also some flavonoids that are unique to cannabis called canna flavins.
Stilbenoids are a group of compounds found in cannabis that also possess strong antioxidant properties. Resveratrol is a stilbene, found in grapes and red wine, that some believe is associated with longer life expectancy, mental strength, as well as liver, kidney and blood health. Stilbenoids are also found in red wine, tea, cocoa, and blueberries. Research on these compounds is promising but still ongoing. Nonetheless, these compounds likely add to the medicinal effects and/or psychoactive experience when smoking or vaping cannabis flowers.
Another group of compounds that can be found in cannabis are lignan amides. Cannabis contains a series of lignan amides called cannabisins that are unique to cannabis. Certain forms of cannabisins are found in the seed while others are found in the flowers. Some cannabisins have shown antioxidant properties as well as promise for treating Alzheimer’s while others have anti-inflammatory qualities and promote heart health.
As we learn about the compounds present in cannabis flowers, new classifications can be developed to help transition away from the “Indica, Sativa, hybrid” system to a system of classification that will help consumers better predict the effects a strain will produce. It is important to remember that cannabis is an extremely complex cocktail of active compounds so predicting the effects a consumer will experience is no trivial task.
It is clear that we are just scratching the surface on discovering and understanding the potential of cannabis. Due to cannabis’ classification as a Schedule I substance there are many challenges associated with uncovering its full potential. Most of our understanding of the effects of cannabis has been generated from anecdotal evidence, pseudoscience, and statistically-limited studies; there is no exact formula for what strain is best for a specific ailment or person. Proper analysis and identification of the different concentrations of compounds found in different cannabis strains is paramount, and it is important for medicinal patients and adult-use consumers to take note of what cannabinoid and terpene profiles are present in the strains they enjoy and find beneficial. Consumers must also remember that there are many more compounds present in their bud that contribute to the effects they enjoy than simply the THC that is on the package label.
For more information about Ace Analytical, visit aceanalytical.com or call (702) 749-7429.
PHOTO BY: DOPE FOTO