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Brazilian Researchers Discover Non-Cannabis Plant Produces CBD

Keegan Williams

By Keegan Williams

June 20, 2023

While the name may suggest otherwise, continuing research is finding that cannabinoids are in fact not exclusive to cannabis.

The latest research was coordinated by Rodrigo Soares Moura Neto, of the Institute of Biology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), and found that the native Brazilian plant Trema micrantha Blume naturally produces cannabidiol (CBD). The plant is part of the Cannabacaeae family; namely, it’s not related to the cannabis plant and does not appear to possess any other cannabinoids.

Sourcing CBD Beyond Cannabis and Hemp

CBD is already well known for its array of potential benefits, including assistance with pain management, sleep, stress management, along with its ability to treat symptoms related to epilepsy, assisting with cancer-related treatments and side effects and much more. Unfortunately because CBD typically comes from cannabis or hemp, some consumers are still unable to access it.

Neto said that the new discovery could help bypass some of the current legal barriers keeping non-psychoactive cannabinoids, like CBD, from folks who may benefit from them. According to a UFRJ

announcing the new findings, the Federal Council of Medicine (CFM) determined in 2022 that a doctor can only prescribe CBD for the treatment of childhood or adolescent epilepsy.

The Brazilian National Congress is still exploring the potential for cannabis cultivation authorization on an industrial scale. Neto said when CBD is sold, National Health Surveillance Agency rules indicate it cannot exceed 0.2% THC, similar to the U.S. hemp-derived cannabis market enforcing a 0.3% THC cap.

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“In the case of the Brazilian plant, this would not be a problem, because there is nothing of THC in it. There would also be no legal restriction on planting, because it can be planted at will. In fact, it is already spread all over Brazil. It would be an easier and cheaper source to get cannabidiol,” Neto said.

Next up, scientists are exploring the best ways to analyze and extract CBD from the plant. Neto said that the in vitro processes will begin in six months, at which time scientists will analyze whether the component has the same activity as CBD extracted from cannabis.

According to an Agricultural Sciences public notice, the research has $500,000 in Brazilian real (just over $100,000 USD) for research resources from the Carlos Chagas Filho Foundation for Research Support in Rio de Janeiro.

Not an Isolated Case

Interestingly enough, the Trema micrantha Blume isn’t the first non-cannabis plant to host cannabinoids.

Earlier this year,

published in the journal Nature Plants found that Helichrysum umbraculigerum, or the woolly umbrella plant, also produces a number of cannabinoids that, up until then, were believed to be exclusive to cannabis and hemp plants. The plant is native to South Africa, and a team of Israeli researchers found more than 40 cannabinoids in the woolly umbrella.

Among the discovered cannabinoids, researchers found that six were identical to those found in cannabis including CBG, or cannabigerol. CBG is known as the “Mother of All Cannabinoids,” since it’s the precursor to many more prominent cannabinoids, like THC and CBD. While breeders are working to maximize CBG yields as research continues to unearth its potential medical benefits, the woolly umbrella plant could also pave a new path for more accessible CBG.

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Keegan Williams

About The Author

Keegan Williams

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.