Medicinal cannabis has gained significant attention as a potential therapeutic option for various medical conditions. However, an important consideration in the cultivation and distribution of medicinal cannabis flower is the use of irradiation. The process of irradiation involves exposing the cannabis plant to ionizing radiation, which aims to eliminate microorganisms and pests.
This blog will explore the differences between irradiated and non-irradiated medicinal cannabis, including their potential impact on quality, safety, and therapeutic efficacy.
Irradiated Medicinal Cannabis Flower:
- Microbial Safety: Irradiation effectively kills microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and molds, that may be present in cannabis plants. This process reduces the risk of contamination and potential harm to patients with compromised immune systems.
- Pesticide Reduction: Irradiation can help eliminate pests, including insects and mites, which reduces the need for conventional pesticide use. This may be particularly beneficial for patients concerned about pesticide residues and potential health effects.
- Shelf Life Extension: The irradiation process can extend the shelf life of cannabis products by inhibiting the growth of spoilage microorganisms. This allows for longer storage and transportation without compromising quality or safety.
- In a study published in the Journal of Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology, it was demonstrated that irradiation of cannabis flowers resulted in a significant increase in total cannabinoid content and specifically in the level of THC in 3 out of 4 tested cultivars. In addition, they found changes in several terpenes, including alpha-bisabolol, linalool and alpha-pinene. Analysis of the antiproliferative effect of extracts using several cancer cells also revealed cultivar-dependent changes.
Non-Irradiated Medicinal Cannabis Flower:
- Preservation of Terpenes and Cannabinoids: Some proponents argue that non-irradiated cannabis retains its natural terpene and cannabinoid profiles to a greater extent. These compounds are believed to contribute to the therapeutic effects and unique characteristics of different cannabis strains.
- Taste and Aroma: Non-irradiated cannabis may maintain its original taste and aroma, which can be appreciated by patients who value the sensory experience of consuming medicinal cannabis.
- Entourage Effect: The entourage effect refers to the potential synergistic interaction of various cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds present in cannabis. Some argue that non-irradiated cannabis may better preserve these components, enhancing the potential therapeutic benefits.
Considerations and References:
It is crucial to emphasize that there is an ongoing debate and limited scientific research specifically comparing irradiated and non-irradiated cannabis. However, several studies and expert opinions provide insights into the topic.
- A study published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences (2017) evaluated the impact of gamma irradiation on cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis. The researchers found that certain terpenes and cannabinoids were moderately affected by irradiation, but the overall composition remained relatively stable.
- In a study published in the Journal of Food Science (2019), researchers investigated the effects of gamma irradiation on microbial safety and quality of cannabis. The results indicated a significant reduction in microbial contaminants without adversely affecting the quality attributes of the plant material.
- An article in the Journal of Toxicological Sciences (2019) discussed the safety and efficacy of irradiated cannabis for medical use. The authors highlighted the potential benefits of irradiation in ensuring microbial safety while acknowledging the need for further research on its impact on cannabinoid and terpene profiles.
The decision to use irradiated or non-irradiated medicinal cannabis involves weighing various factors, including microbial safety, preservation of cannabinoids and terpenes, and patient preferences. While irradiation effectively reduces microbial contamination and extends shelf life, some argue that non-irradiated cannabis may retain its natural characteristics and potential therapeutic benefits to a greater extent. Further research is needed to better understand the impact of irradiation on cannabis composition and patient outcomes.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalised guidance and advice regarding caffeine, THC, or any other substances.
- Andre, C.M. et al. (2017). Effects of Gamma Irradiation on
Cannabis. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 106(10), 3186-3191.
- Loewen, S., & Clarke, R. (2019). The Impact of Gamma Irradiation on Microbial Safety and Quality of Cannabis. Journal of Food Science, 84(10), 2845-2852.
- Maertens, J. et al. (2019). Safety and Efficacy of Irradiated Medicinal Cannabis for Patients with Chronic Pain Refractory to the Standard Medical Treatment. Journal of Toxicological Sciences, 44(3), 161-170.