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Marijuana Component is Anti-Inflammatory

But the compound does not act as a psychoactive

FRIDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- A compound found in marijuana acts as an anti-inflammatory agent without the psychoactive effects of the drug, according to research published online June 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

Following up on an observation that components of Cannabis sativa essential oil bound to cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) but not type 1, which is associated with the psychoactive effects of marijuana, Jurg Gertsch, Ph.D., from Eidgenossische Technische Hochschul in Zurich, Switzerland, and colleagues isolated the active compound.

The researchers found that the active component was (E)-beta-caryophyllene [(E)-BCP] and was selective for CB2, initiating a cellular signaling cascade in primary human monocytes. The compound was common in the essential oils of many spice and food plants as well as Cannabis. (E)-BCP blocked the expression of proinflammatory cytokines in peripheral blood, blocked inflammatory signaling in monocytes, and strongly reduced the inflammatory response in normal mice but not mice lacking CB2, the report indicates.

"These results identify (E)-BCP as a functional non-psychoactive CB2 receptor ligand in foodstuff and as a macrocyclic anti-inflammatory cannabinoid in Cannabis," Gertsch and colleagues conclude.

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