The study of cannabis plants is allowing for the development of marijuana plants with targeted attributes, and shedding light on the efficient cultivation of industrial hemp for food, fuel, fiber, and the restoration of soil - or phytoremediation. Perhaps the most enlightening area of this study is that of genomic sequencing.
The marijuana genome has revealed something very fascinating about the human relation to the Cannabis sativa species: humans share more than 40% of our genome with cannabis plants!
The study of the marijuana genome map is a natural step in the evolution of our relationship with the plant. After all, many agricultural crops have been sequenced over the last several decades to improve cultivation practices. For clarity, marijuana is a term designated by the US government in the 1930s to cannabis plants that produce a high quantity of the compound THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the compound in marijuana that delivers the “high” that cannabis is often associated with, although proper titration of cannabis dosing can avoid any psychotropic impact if desired. THC is only one of the many active constituents of this versatile plant. Over 480 compounds have been isolated from the Cannabis sativa and indica plant species, and in each strain, the quantities and ratios of these compounds to one another varies quite a lot. This indicates that each cannabis plant has a unique impact on the mind and body.
The genome of any given organism contains the individual's complete DNA set. This DNA contains the instructions for the growth and development of the individual. DNA from all organisms are made up of the same four bases strung together in a sequence. The order of these bases is what genomic sequencing seeks to discover.
For context, 99.9% of the human DNA sequence is identical among individuals. That’s 99.9% of 3 billion building blocks ordered in the same way! The cannabis genome also follows this trend but only has about 534 million genes strung together. The term “only” is used lightly here as it takes quite a bit of work to map out the sequence of each of the half a billion base nucleotides that make up the cannabis genome. Each strain of the cannabis plant has unique genetics, which gives it unique characteristics.
The marijuana genome mapping is a monumental effort. Certain individuals and companies are tracking down as many samples as possible for sequencing to bring the understanding of cannabis genetics up to the standards of any other agricultural crop. This plant, however, is unique in the degree of variation among its contents. The 400+ compounds found within cannabis belong, for the most part, to the phytocannabinoid and terpene classifications.
Cannabinoids are related to the human endocannabinoid system, and the prefix “phyto” indicates that phytocannabinoid compounds are found within a plant. The endocannabinoid system is key in the regulation of hundreds of cellular and bodily functions. THC and CBD are perhaps the most well-known phytocannabinoids, but all of them have a unique function within the ECS. THC directly activates cannabinoid receptors known as CB1 and CB2. It is the only phytocannabinoid with the property of direct activation of these receptors. The majority of other cannabinoids and terpenes alter the degree to which these receptors can be activated; they’re known as allosteric modulators.
Terpenes are aromatic and flavorful compounds that are produced by all living things. Because they’re produced by organisms which share much of our DNA, many terpenes have valid uses in the human system and are responsible for the effects of many naturopathic remedies.
The variations of compounds that can be expressed within the cannabis plant clearly show the wide variety of applications cannabis has. Cannabis plants are brimming with compounds that work hand in hand with every single cell in the human body. While the science of genomic mapping is still in its infancy, it is clear that all biological life is extremely closely related, relies on organic chemistry to ensure a very small margin of error known as homeostasis, and can interact with other forms of biological life in order to overcome obstacles that evolution would never have been able to overcome on its own.
An example of that very overcoming is the human use of cannabinoids to alter our own health. While we didn’t evolve to produce THC or CBD, and those compounds came from an entirely different kingdom of life, they are immensely useful in treating human disease thanks to the wonders of shared genomic data. Now that the marijuana genome map has been discovered, we are able to use this information not only to cultivate strains in an efficient manner but strains which have specific desired effects upon consumption.Cannabis biomarkers are the key to discovering how an individual will react to specific doses of a product and their response to different strains of the plant which have different active cannabinoid and terpenoid ingredients. Through DNA testing and evaluation of a person’s health, the right product can be selected to ensure an effective match. This methodology removes a large amount of guesswork when it comes to establishing an efficient cannabis regimen. DNA biomarkers are what allow MelixGX to ascertain the correct cannabis preparation for you. There are variations in human DNA that signify a specific response to outside influences, and these markers have been recognized for their efficacy in personalized medical plans.
The comparison of the marijuana genome to the human genome displays a new urgency in the utilization of this incredible plant. Humans have shared their lifestyle, their celebration, and their health with cannabis for thousands of years. It is no wonder that we share so much of what makes us alive, our DNA, with this plant. It’s time to make use of the latest in human ingenuity. It’s time to thrive with the right cannabis plant that brings balance and wellness to our whole life, body, and mind.