Liverwort Plants Found To Contain THC-Like Medicinal Cannabinoid

A type of mossy weed known as liverwort contains a possibly psychoactive cannabinoid similar to the THC found in marijuana, according to a new study. The molecule is called perrotetinene and it was discovered in liverworts by Japanese scientists in 1994. The new study provides strong evidence that perrotetinene is a cannabinoid similar to THC.

Cannabis sativa L., still commonly referred to as marijuana, is popularly used for medicinal, in addition to recreational, purposes, being uniquely capable of producing natural activators for CB1 cannabinoid receptors. Less commonly known is liverwort, which some claim offers psychoactive effects when used recreationally, though many dismiss those claims.

Though it's not advised, liverworts have traditionally been used for some medicinal purposes, including pain relief. The new study found that there may be substance to the claims of medicinal effects, stating that perrotetinene is very similar to THC.

The study focused on the molecule's effect on mice, not humans, finding that it had positive effects on inflammation and pain — two medicinal effects commonly cited among marijuana consumers. The findings indicate that perrotetinene may hold potential as a future medicinal compound.

The study concludes, in part:

Our study shows that cis-PET is a moderately potent but efficacious psychoactive cannabinoid identified outside the Cannabis genus ... In vivo, cis-PET induced analgesia, catalepsy, hypolocomotion, and hypothermia (collectively called tetrad) in a CB1R-dependent manner similarly to Δ9-trans-THC ... Unexpectedly, the PET diastereoisomers differed pharmacologically from Δ9-trans-THC as it significantly reduced basal PGD2 and E2 levels in the brain in a CB1R-dependent manner, potentially limiting its adverse effects (20) and reducing neuroinflammation.

Though liverworts are sometimes sold as recreational alternatives to marijuana, consumers should think twice before giving it a try. According to WebMD, fresh liverworts may cause stomach, kidney, and urinary tract irritation, "pus-filled blisters" on the skin, itching, and more.

SOURCE: Science Mag