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Scientists Just Learned How Cannabis Makes Molecules 30x More Effective Than Aspirin

Cannabis is a complex plant with a complex history. It’s been cultivated for at least 6,000 years, but because of its modern legal status, we’re still learning new things about its medicinal benefits.

While most of us have heard of the plant’s pain-relieving cannabinoids, such as CBD, there’s a lesser known class of compounds that deserves our attention.

Flavonoids are a group of natural substances that are thought to hold anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties. These compounds are found in fruits, vegetables, flowers, tea, wine, and, yes, even cannabis.

In 1986, researcher Marilyn Barrett at the University of London was the first to identify two cannabis flavonoids, known as cannflavin A and cannflavin B, both of which were found to have anti-inflammatory benefits 30 times more effective than Aspirin.

But while the flavonoid pathway has been extensively studied in several other plants, for decades, there has been no specific data on their biosynthesis in cannabis. Now, for the first time, researchers in Canada have uncovered how the cannabis plant creates these important pain-relieving molecules.

“Our objective was to better understand how these molecules are made, which is a relatively straightforward exercise these days,” explains Tariq Akhtar, a molecular and cellular biologist at the University of Guelph.

“There are many sequenced genomes that are publicly available, including the genome of Cannabis sativa, which can be mined for information. If you know what you’re looking for, one can bring genes to life, so to speak, and piece together how molecules like cannflavins A and B are assembled.”

Using a combination of genomics and biochemistry techniques, the team was able to pinpoint which genes were responsible for creating these two cannflavins. Their findings provide the first evidence of a unique genetic pathway in Cannabis sativa plants, which uses two enzymes to ultimately create cannflavin A and B.

Extracting and purifying these compounds from a cannabis plant, however, just isn’t practical. Akhtar epxlained to The Toronto Star that these cannflavins only make up about .014 per cent of the plant’s weight, so fields and fields of cannabis would have to be grown in order to capture these anti-inflammatory benefits.

As a result, the researchers hope to use this new information to metabolically engineer their own pain-relieving medicine outside of the cannabis plant. To achieve this, they will be working with the Toronto-based company, Anahit International Corp., which has already licensed a patent from their university.

“The problem with these molecules is they are present in cannabis at such low levels, it’s not feasible to try to engineer the cannabis plant to create more of these substances,” says co-author Steven Rothstein, who studies the molecular and genetic qualities of crop plants at University of Guelph.

“We are now working to develop a biological system to create these molecules, which would give us the opportunity to engineer large quantities.”

Without some of the side effects of other painkillers, the authors think the synthesis of these molecules could make a big difference in the pharmaceutical industry.

Previous studies have shown that the vast majority of patients prefer cannabis to opioids when managing their pain, which suggests there’s ample market for a drug that mimics its benefits.

“There’s clearly a need to develop alternatives for relief of acute and chronic pain that go beyond opioids,” says Akhtar.

“These molecules are non-psychoactive and they target the inflammation at the source, making them ideal painkillers.”

The research has been published in Phytochemistry.

Cannabis is a complex plant with a complex history. It’s been cultivated for at least 6,000 years, but because of its modern legal status, we’re still learning new things about its medicinal benefits.

Drug Interactions between aspirin / caffeine / propoxyphene and cannabis

This report displays the potential drug interactions for the following 2 drugs:

  • aspirin/caffeine/propoxyphene
  • cannabis

Interactions between your drugs

propoxyphene cannabis (Schedule I substance)

Applies to: aspirin / caffeine / propoxyphene and cannabis

Using propoxyphene together with cannabis (Schedule I substance) may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. Some people, especially the elderly, may also experience impairment in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination. You should take propoxyphene exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take larger doses or use the drug more frequently than prescribed. Misuse of propoxyphene can lead to serious side effects including death, and the risk may be greater if you have a history of emotional disturbances, suicidal thoughts, or alcohol and drug abuse. You should avoid or limit the use of alcohol while being treated with these medications. Also avoid activities requiring mental alertness such as driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how the medications affect you. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

aspirin caffeine

Applies to: aspirin / caffeine / propoxyphene and aspirin / caffeine / propoxyphene

Consumer information for this minor interaction is not currently available. Some minor drug interactions may not be clinically relevant in all patients. Minor drug interactions do not usually cause harm or require a change in therapy. However, your healthcare provider can determine if adjustments to your medications are needed.

Drug and food interactions

propoxyphene food

Applies to: aspirin / caffeine / propoxyphene

Do not use alcohol or medications that contain alcohol while you are receiving treatment with propoxyphene. This may increase nervous system side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, difficulty concentrating, and impairment in thinking and judgment. In severe cases, low blood pressure, respiratory distress, fainting, coma, or even death may occur. Do not use more than the recommended dose of propoxyphene, and avoid activities requiring mental alertness such as driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how the medication affects you. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medication without first talking to your doctor.

cannabis (Schedule I substance) food

Applies to: cannabis

Alcohol can increase the nervous system side effects of cannabis (Schedule I substance) such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating. Some people may also experience impairment in thinking and judgment. You should avoid or limit the use of alcohol while being treated with cannabis (Schedule I substance). Do not use more than the recommended dose of cannabis (Schedule I substance), and avoid activities requiring mental alertness such as driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how the medication affects you. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns.

caffeine food

Applies to: aspirin / caffeine / propoxyphene

Consumer information for this minor interaction is not currently available. Some minor drug interactions may not be clinically relevant in all patients. Minor drug interactions do not usually cause harm or require a change in therapy. However, your healthcare provider can determine if adjustments to your medications are needed.

Therapeutic duplication warnings

No warnings were found for your selected drugs.

Therapeutic duplication warnings are only returned when drugs within the same group exceed the recommended therapeutic duplication maximum.

See Also

  • Aspirin/caffeine/propoxyphene Drug Interactions
  • Cannabis Drug Interactions
  • Drug Interactions Checker
Drug Interaction Classification
These classifications are only a guideline. The relevance of a particular drug interaction to a specific individual is difficult to determine. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting or stopping any medication.

Major Highly clinically significant. Avoid combinations; the risk of the interaction outweighs the benefit.
Moderate Moderately clinically significant. Usually avoid combinations; use it only under special circumstances.
Minor Minimally clinically significant. Minimize risk; assess risk and consider an alternative drug, take steps to circumvent the interaction risk and/or institute a monitoring plan.
Unknown No interaction information available.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some mixtures of medications can lead to serious and even fatal consequences.

A Major Drug Interaction exists between aspirin / caffeine / propoxyphene and cannabis. View detailed information regarding this drug interaction.