A long time ago, a Swiss pharmacist stumbled across a substance drawn from a bizarre mossy plant that was being traded online as a “legal high” (obviously, the search was being made only for research and nothing else). After carrying out a number of pharmacological research on the moss they found that the active ingredients of the moss exerted a similar but higher anti-inflammatory and pain-killing effect as compared to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis.
Although the concept is still in its infancy, the researchers believe that it has what it takes to be a more effective medical option to marijuana. A Japanese phytochemist Yoshinori Asakawa, back in 1994 learned that liverwort (Radula perrottetii)—a unique moss aboriginal to Costa Rica, Japan, and New Zealand— yielded a natural substance known as perrottetinene (PET). He further discovered that PET is correlated to THC and in that individual atoms are coupled together in a similar fashion, though they have an additional benzyl group and they vary in their 3D structure.
Lead author of the study, Jürg Gertsch, said in a statement, “It’s astonishing that only two species of plants, separated by 300 million years of evolution, produce psychoactive cannabinoids.”
Scientists from the University of Bern in Switzerland have been investigating the effects of PET and the ways it can be compared to its cousin—Marijuana. As published in the journal Science Advances, they administered medicine to two groups of mice—one group with an injection of THC and the other with an injection of PET.
The PET rapidly triggered the cannabinoid receptors in the mice’s brains. Moreover, as compared to THC, PET expressed a stronger anti-inflammatory effect. Then again, the researchers were surprised to find that the mice became too spaced-out as it didn’t trigger the cannabinoid receptors linked to the ecstatic high as profusely as THC.
Andrea Chicca, from the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bern, stated: “This natural substance has a weaker psychoactive effect and, at the same time, is capable of inhibiting inflammatory processes in the brain.”
The researchers are in hope that their work clears the way for the curative use of PET, analogous to the usage of THC in treating various prolonged illnesses. Although the PET has experimented on a number of animal models, the researchers have informed that a lot of research has to be done before we hail this moss as the next wonder drug.
Gretsch further added, “Both solid fundamental research in the field of biochemical and pharmacological mechanisms as well as controlled clinical studies are required to carry out cannabinoid research.”
Ultimately the team just hopes that pharmaceutical companies will manufacture the substance as a likely substitute to marijuana which, even though is prescribed to ease certain ailments and legally recognized in some states still remains branded as an illegal narcotic under U.S. federal law.
Let’s get high without actually getting high!