Jürg Gertsch [is] a biologist at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Zürich, Switzerland, and lead researcher on the study, published June 23 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The team extracted the compound, called beta-caryophyllene, from oily resin in Cannabis sativa L. buds . . . beta-caryophyllene works by turning on CB2 cannabinoid receptors, molecules that THC acts on and that are also known to reduce swelling, pain and inflammation.
THC works its anti-inflammatory magic by activating both CB2 and CB1 receptor molecules; CB1 receptors are concentrated in the brain and lead to the psychological effects of marijuana. Beta-caryophyllene, however, has little or no effect on CB1 and, therefore, might be used to ease inflammation without the psychological side effects . . . beta-caryophyllene has previously been isolated from a number of plants and spices including black pepper, oregano and cinnamon. . . . But the amount of pepper one would have to ingest to get the desired benefit might also lead to a nasty stomach ache, Gertsch says.
Fresh beta-caryophyllene works best. A THC extract is approved for medicinal purposes in Canada to treat M.S., but in the U.S. marijuana is treated under the federal controlled substances act as it there are no medicinal benefits to marijuana for political reasons contrary to the scientific evidence.