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Cannabis: a treasure worthy of (re)discovery

In recent years, the scientific community has ventured into a relatively unexplored field: the therapeutic properties of cannabis sativa. Once considered a substance merely used for its psychoactive effect, in reality cannabis sativa has exceptional, abundant curative properties, many of which are not yet fully understood.

This article was written to offer the clearest possible explanation of the currently-recognized potential of this natural substance, as well as the proper extraction and standardization methods according to good manufacturing practice (GMP) guidelines. The opinions presented here are those of Linnea pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Switzerland. Day after day, a team of Linnea researchers studies cannabis sativa and its derivatives to gain the broadest possible understanding of the plant and to disseminate scientific information about cannabis in order to discourage unregulated manufacturing practices and, instead, focus on the many applications this remarkable plant has to offer in the field of medicine.

Cannabis sativa:
what we know today

Cannabis sativa holds a prominent position in the vast landscape of medicinal plants and their obtainable derivatives, thanks not only to the characteristic shape of its seven pointed leaves but, of course, to its notoriety as a drug.

Modern medicine and cutting-edge analysis techniques have recently revealed other elements that make this a very special plant. Indeed, its phyto-complex composition is virtually unique: more than 100 cannabinoids have been identified in cannabis, including the well-known CBD, THC and CBG, as well as many others that have barely been investigated. These compounds are characteristic to cannabis; they are not present in significant quantities in other plant species. In addition to cannabinoids, cannabis also contains flavonoids, terpenes and other molecules, which combine to form a multi-faceted phyto-complex.

Starting with the above-mentioned active cannabinoids, such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), the cannabis phyto-complex triggers a series of subtle chemical processes and synergistic or inhibitory interactions that work together to produce a specific effect when administered.

In an effort to combine traditional phyto-therapeutic knowledge and evidence-based medicine, the expression “entourage effect” was coined to describe this particular impact of the cannabis phyto-complex – a definition that only does partial justice to its countless potential capabilities.

The mixture of cannabinoids and other components of the phyto-complex of the cannabis plant itself, along with variables in cultivation techniques and processing (extraction, filtration, grinding, etc.), allows for multiple therapeutic applications, sufficient enough to substantiate claims of cannabis as a universal cure-all.

At this point, careful assessment of the individual properties of the plant is necessary, using standardized scientific methods that identify and combine its numerous active ingredients in order to obtain specific, rigorous effective benefits that can be exploited for therapeutic purposes.

Therapeutic applications of cannabinoids:
cbd as a case study

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most well-known and studied cannabis cannabinoids. Unlike the more famous psychotropic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not alter the human psyche, which explains why cannabidiol use is safe, even for children.

Pure cannabidiol is a water-insoluble white crystal and,
due to its affinity for oils, it is often dissolved in coconut oil, sesame oil or olive oil, which occasionally leads to the erroneous belief that CBD is obtained through pressing. Actually, its dissolution in oil is the
preferred consumption method, due to the high compliance and ease of adjusting the dosage.

Obtaining cannabidiol in its specific pure crystal form
is a complex process.

CBD crystals are produced using a standardized process in compliance with the strictest industry standards, resulting in effective pharmaceutical or food grade products.
CBD can be used in various therapeutic applications, and it has been shown to be effective, for example, in the reduction of inflammation and pain markers, including those of psoriasis (Sangiovanni, 2019), and in modulating the immune system for the treatment of disorders (Cosentino, 2019). However, these areas of application are strictly tied to one specific extract composition, and even the slightest variation can alter its efficacy.

The importance of good
manufacturing practice (gmp) protocols

The identification and consistency of the efficacy profile can and must be achieved exclusively through the manufacturing of standardized, pharmaceutical grade extracts. Ultimately, this a scientific approach to cannabis processing that complies with GMP-certified safety testing, an indispensable manufacturing license for those selling pharmaceuticals. It is not just a question of consistently reproducing standardized natural extracts, but of also being able to guarantee their efficacy profile.

For example, with reference to the above-mentioned clinical potential of CBD, when the active ingredient is administered in extract form (meaning that the CBD is surrounded by the active molecules of the phyto-complex), its therapeutic capabilities in the treatment of inflammation and pain, as well as in immune system diseases, vary. Ethanol extraction of the cannabis flower in fact produces an entrainment of active substances that, on one hand, unite and therefore strengthen the effects of the cannabidiol, and on the other, can modify its efficacy. Yet while GMP-grade cannabis extract standardized to 5% CBD has been shown to be very effective in reducing the markers specific to psoriasis, it is also true that this result is unique to that particular extract, developed from a plant that was selected, cultivated, harvested and processed in compliance with good agricultural and collecting

practice (GACP) standards. This 5% cannabidiol full spectrum extract was included in the pharmaceutical production cycle only after applying quality certification tests and processes, and GMP procedures, with the aim of obtaining a standardized product that is consistent from one lot to the next. Only this procedure can guarantee that the evidence of efficacy in a clinical context and during each therapeutic application can be replicated. Conversely, using different methods would be a mistake – even if the same percentage of CBD is employed, potentially leading to an ineffective product.

Ultimately, a GMP-grade product, prepared according to pharmaceutical standards, will always present the same physical-chemical characteristics and active ingredient composition. This is an important guarantee for all efficacy tests conducted on that specific element.
This also eliminates costly process changes in the production phase, thus diminishing the time to market and, perhaps most importantly, allowing a unique preparation to be marketed, both in terms of composition and efficacy profile, benefitting the end consumer.

specialists in cannabis processing

The production of a standardized, pharmaceutical-grade cannabis extract with proven efficacy is an exclusive approach that would not be possible without a complex, technologically-advanced organization.

That describes Linnea perfectly: a Swiss-based pharmaceutical company that for more than 30 years has focused on the production of botanical and plant-derived extracts, steadily positioning itself at the top of global markets in terms of transparency and methodology. Linnea applies the systemic methods of the pharmaceutical industry to the extraction of cannabinoids to ensure results of the highest order that are completely safe and capable of catering to increasingly numerous, exacting market demands.

Cannabis offers a treasure chest of therapeutic properties. But, like all treasures, its value will continue to exist only if it is safeguarded. This is why Linnea is sharply focused on optimizing the production supply chain with routine monitoring of every processing phase and investing considerable energy in research.

Cannabis is gaining a well-deserved foothold in scientific consideration and, even more than other medicinal plants, it is proving to be a valuable ally in improving the efficacy of pharmacological and cosmetic treatments. Linnea’s mission is to reveal and promulgate the full potential of cannabis, so that it can be of benefit to the greatest possible number of people.

Because after all, Linnea’s true focus is on people. The company’s exemplary extracts are created to improve lives today, while continual research and development are paving the way for a better tomorrow.

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