This article contains information relating to the science, process and economics of CBD and THC processing.
Due to reported health benefits (1), medicinal cannabis has been in the headlines in many countries, recently (2). For example, extracts from these plants are being applied to medical treatments for epilepsy (3), with some plant components conferring properties of pain relief and therapeutic benefit on levels that have little equivalent in modern day medicine or classical pharmaceutical research (4). The topic is complex though, and to date, the FDA has approved two cannabinoids as drugs. Epidiolex(R) (cannabidiol or CBD) oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare, severe forms of epilepsy and derived from marijuana. The FDA has also approved two synthetic cannabinoids (dronabinol and nabilone) to treat nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in people who have already taken other medicines to treat these symptoms without good results. Dronabinol is also approved to treat loss of appetite and weight loss in people with AIDS. Dronabinol contains synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a component of marijuana, and nabilone contains a synthetic substance with a similar chemical structure. In 2016, the FDA approved Syndros, a liquid form of dronabinol.
This series of articles will highlight the science, help to explode the myths and explain more about the medicinal and therapeutic applications (5) and solutions for purification of these compounds. For those wanting to get more involved in the industry, or just wanting to learn more - we'll look at the principles, workflows and processes necessary in order to take part in the discussion of this growing therapeutic area.
So, how and why has this plant based chemistry become so intertwined in the biochemistry of humans and human emotions?
The human endocannabinoid system (ECS) promotes health and homeostasis in the body and regulates an array of bodily functions, from appetite regulation to sleep patterns, moods, metabolism, immune response, also governing the lifespan of cells and more (6). Cannabinoids are natural and produced by the mammalian body, they are basically signaling molecules (hormones) for the ECS, of which we all have.
The key to this whole topic is that cannabis plants own cannabinoids are also able to bind to human ECS receptors in the body to trigger those ECS system effects. A well-known endocannabinoid is called anandamide. Anandamide has been connected with pain relief in a number of scientific studies (7) responsible for the production and uptake of serotonin. If that sounds a bit familiar, it’s because serotonin is associated with mood in the human body and is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for the “runner’s high” that athletes get (8).
To learn more about cannabinoids and their interaction in the human body as we start to explore the processes and mechanisms necessary for production of these plant extracts, follow the link below:
(1) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/medical-cannabis/ , https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320984.php#1