For 50 plus years Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, otherwise known as the “godfather” of cannabis, has been on the forefront of cannabis research. Deemed his crowning achievements, Dr.Mechoulam was the scientist responsible for the discovery and first successful isolation of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the endocannabinoid system. These two discoveries have formed the foundation for modern day cannabis research.
Still, to this day Mechoulam is constantly pushing boundaries and furthering our understanding of cannabis. Recently, Mechoulam partnered with a U.S biotechnology company known as EPM. Through this partnership Mechoulam was able to focus on a cannabinoid that he has had quite an obsession with for a while – cannabidiol acid, better known as CBDa.
Mechoulam was fascinated with CBDa’s potential to be more potent than its degraded version CBD. Dr. Mechoulam was convinced this compound could change the future of medicinal cannabis. However, CBDa is notoriously unstable due to its natural degradation and therefore was considered an unviable compound for pharmaceutical drug development. That is, until recently.
In September 2019, Dr.Mechoulam and EPM announced they were able to stabilize CBDa long enough that it could be studied and experimented with by synthesizing the compound. Through a chemical process known as esterification, the team was able to create a Cannabidiol Acid Methyl Ester. For those who aren’t familiar with esterification, this is a chemical reaction between an carboxylated acid and an alcohol while removing the water created as a bi-product. In this case, our carboxylated acid would be CBDa and the alcohol could be one of a simple nature such as methanol or ethanol. In large scale production, such as this case, the process is more or less the same except a larger quantity of each reactant is used. In this instance an acid catalyst (e.g, sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid) is necessary to ensure that these reactions are happening more frequently. As a result of this process, scientists are able to produce much larger quantities of a desired product within a reasonable amount of time.
Unlike the natural form of CBDa, this new synthesized compound would not degrade away. This process allows Mechoulam and his team to create the compound on a consistent basis which would allow for more necessary research into this cannabinoid.
Thanks to the method of stabilization and an overall consistent substance, the newly dubbed EPM301 is now a patentable compound.
Now why is any of this important? Well, before the dawn of EPM301 previous research has shown that CBDa is very effective at reducing pain sensitivity, nausea, anxiety and many other ailments. More notably, research has proven there were little to no side effects. EPM301 has already shown potential to outperform CBDa in reducing neuropathic pain, nausea, anxiety and depression. Dr. Mechoulam was part of a study using an early form of Cannabidiolic Acid Methyl Ester, which showed the compound to be significantly more effective at enhancing the activation of a receptor. This activation would ultimately reduce signs of nausea and anxiety.
This is just the beginning for EPM301. With this research starting to pick up, there may soon be advancements in the pharmaceutical industry. With time the full extent of EPM301’s benefits can be explored, thus replacing a variety of current medications that come with side effects.
If you are curious about CBDa or any other cannabinoid and would like to know more, feel free to check out The Cannabis Review (cannabinoid edition). There you will find a long list of other fascinating cannabinoids, as well as studies showcasing their effects and conditions they could potentially treat.