Cannabis flower is usually consumed for its medicinal properties that provide relaxing and calming effects. It is also prescribed today to help with a range of medical conditions including chronic pain, glaucoma and lack of appetite.
Worldwide, the dried flower is the best-selling product, among other reasons because consuming the cannabinoids and terpenes at the same time enhances its medicinal effect. It is in the flower and its “sugar Leaves” that the vast majority of trichome glands are found.
Cannabis plants contain more than 400 different chemical compounds, or cannabinoids, each of which has its own distinctive and structural properties. Terpenes have aromatic properties, flavor and aroma, and many also have pharmacological properties, such as antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects.
The production of cannabinoids and their terpenes in cannabis plants is subject to the influence of environmental factors, as well as hereditary factors. Their biosynthesis occurs in specialized glands that develop throughout the aerial structure of the plant and serve as a defensive agent against pests and UV filter.
These small bulbous glands rich in resins that grow in the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant are the real factory of terpenes and cannabinoids with superior therapeutic properties for human health and well-being.
Researchers from the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources of Connecticut in the United States discovered the genetic mechanism by which the plant produces glandular trichomes to protect the flowers against a wide variety of pests during their flowering period.
What does this discovery bring to the cannabis industry? Identifying how trichomes are naturally generated offers the possibility of developing a technological mechanism to produce terpenes and cannabinoids. And at the same time, to inhibit this process if necessary for some industrial objective with the plant. With the first option, a leap could be made in the production of active compounds from the plant. With the second, it would be possible to guarantee varieties with low cannabinoid content that focus their production on fiber and flowers without trichomes. Knowing how cannabis produces trichomes opens two important scenarios for the industry. On the one hand, to be able to develop plants with high production of active cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBG and CBN, with a high medicinal grade; it would also allow, if desired, to cultivate plants focused on the production of fiber, something key for the hemp industry and its derivatives.
This discovery is a breakthrough for the global cannabis industry, as the plant still has many stigmas and restrictions worldwide. A specific case is the cultivation of hemp, for example, there are threshold limits of psychoactive cannabinoids such as THC established by law, something that plants are clearly unaware of and often exceed, this often forces to discard entire crops of hemp, with consequent large economic losses for companies.
On the other hand, in the not so distant future it is expected that this new technology can be applied in another sense, producing cannabis varieties that generate even more trichomes without having to appeal to long processes of natural selection and without the risk of losses due to worldwide restrictions on the use of cannabis in any country.
It would simply be a matter of choosing a variety with a desired cannabinoid profile. Psychoactive or non-psychoactive and through artificial stimulation of a natural process, multiply the production of trichomes and in turn of medicinal substances and legal or regulated by the country in which it is grown and to which it is intended to be exported. This will make the industry advance by leaps and bounds.
It is worth noting that for a successful development of medicinal trichomes, it is very important the luminosity given to the plants, their nutrients and a harvest at the right time in which the heads of the trichomes show a coloration with a percentage of approximately 60% “milky” color, percentages of amber and clear color of approximately 20% each. Likewise, it is necessary to take care of the trichomes in their drying, trimming and curing process so that the dried flower reaches the hands of the patients preserving the great majority of cannabinoids and terpenes.