National Institute of Health awards $3 million for cannabis and terpene research

National Institute of Health awards $3 million for cannabis and terpene research

The National Institute of Health has announced that it will earmark $3 million for nine different research projects, all focused on exploring the pain relief effects and other mechanisms of cannabis and its associated terpenes. The projects are all connected to nine different schools and research institutions around the United States (from Boston Children’s Hospital to Temple University in Philadelphia), and while they are all looking at different aspects of cannabis and pain, they’ll all examine how the drug works and how it could be used more effectively. A team in North Carolina will test specific cannabinoids and terpenes against different types of pain, another team in Texas will test cannabinoid receptors in mice, and a group in Utah will “use proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy to evaluate changes in brain chemistry in critical pain-processing regions after short-term administration of a cannabis extract enriched in CBD.” That’s a complicated way of saying that they’re using brain scans to test CBD’s pain relief abilities.

This is great news — while $3 million is pocket change to some of the drug companies, for example, that have caused the opioid crisis in the US, it’s also a nice chunk of funding that will help us learn a lot more about exactly how CBD works and what it does. The FDA has recently told CBD vendors that they can’t make medical claims about the product, but the reason they can’t do that is because there’s just not enough research to show how CBD works — hopefully, these studies will come up with more conclusive evidence of what cannabinoids can do.

And the fact that terpenes are included in this list of research is icing on the cake — terpenes (as you’ll know if you’ve read our research) are found in all sorts of plants, including cannabis, and it’s possible that they could have effects that augment other compounds like THC and CBD, or might even have strong effects on their own.

This type of research will help us figure out what those effects are, and how they might be able to be used in a more effective (and natural) way than the products currently being pushed by the traditional drug companies. It will be a while before we see the results of this research (and even then, studies could turn out to be inconclusive or lack findings — that’s science!), but a series of grants like this are great news for those looking to understand how these compounds work and what they could do for us.

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