Liverwort – Even Better Than CBD?

Close up of mossy green liverwort growing in rocky environment

It’s called liverwort, and despite the rather ugly name, it might be even more beneficial than CBD.

Considered some of the most primitive plants, liverworts consist of about 6,000 to 8,000 species. They are often a kind of moss where reproduction occurs through the development and spread of spores, much like algae.

Through intense research, scientists have discovered that some types of liverwort are loaded with chemical compounds known as cannabidiols (CBD), similar to the cannabidiols found in the cannabis plant.

Turns out, both moss liverwort and marijuana have therapeutic potential.

In fact, researchers now report that some species of liverwort contain a THC-type cannabidiol called perrottetinene (PET) that is similar to that found in medical marijuana.  THC is used to treat headache, muscle ache, glaucoma, nausea and loss of appetite, among other symptoms.

In a study published in the journal Science Advances, a group of researchers led by Jürg Gertsch at the University of Bern, in Switzerland, compared perrottetinene from liverwort and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from marijuana. They found that, in the brains of mice at least, the compounds act on the same cannabinoid receptors.

Gertsch and his team have gone on record to say that liverwort’s perrottetinene could be even more effective than THC in medicinal applications – and it’s completely legal unlike the complicated legalities associated with medical marijuana.

Gertsch initially learned about liverwort when he discovered that dried samples of liverwort were being advertised on the internet as incense that produces so-called “legal highs.”

At the time, little was known about the pharmacological effects of PET, so Gertsch and his colleagues set out to discover how the substance works.

The researchers found that the liverwort product is not only less psychoactive than the marijuana-derived one, but it also inhibits prostaglandins in the brain. Prostaglandins are physiologically active compounds derived from fatty acids, found throughout the body, and the primary targets of painkillers such as aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.

That means PET has potential therapeutic uses, especially as a painkiller.

This natural substance has a weaker psychoactive effect (the marijuana high) and, at the same time, is capable of inhibiting inflammatory processes in the brain.

These findings have amazed scientists:

“It’s astonishing that only two species of plants (cannabis and liverworts), separated by 300 million years of evolution, produce psychoactive cannabinoids,” Gertsch said.

However, it’s not astonishing that other species of livewort have been known for some time for their medicinal properties. Liverwort has been used to treat gallstones, liver conditions, varicose veins and menopause. Other uses include strengthening nerves and stimulating metabolism.

Liverwort has even been sold online to help decorate terrariums and aquariums.

Research into liverwort as a THC-type painkiller is ongoing.