Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Yeah, but what happens if you smoke it?

A compound in oregano and basil has been shown to have antiinflammatory effects in mice. The compound, called (E)-beta-caryophyllene or(E)-BCP, is also found in large amounts in rosemary, cinnamon, and black pepper. And Cannabis sativa, a.k.a. marijuana.

The most well-studied components of marijuana, cannabinol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), exert their effects by binding to two receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 is expressed in the brain and other tissues and is responsible for the ...elevating...effects of Cannabis sativa. CB2, on the other hand is primarily found in tissues outside the brain. Activation of CB2 has been shown to inhibit inflammation.

This paper describes some experiments showing that (E)-BCP binds to CB2, but not CB1. They did all the stuff you are supposed to do in the lab to demonstrate its binding qualities, then they tested the compound in mice.

They dissolved (E)-BCP in (appropriately) olive oil and fed it to mice. Then they injected the footpads of the mice with carrageenan, which makes the footpads swell. The feet of the mice that had been fed (E)-BCP had much less swelling than the mice that had been fed olive oil alone. This antiinflammatory effect was not found when they used mice in which the CB2 receptor had been knocked out, demonstrating that it was the CB2 receptor activation that was responsible for the beneficial effect.

I knew pesto pizza had to be good for you.