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Publication Title | Cannabinoids and Terpenes as Chemotaxonomic Markers in Cannabis

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ISSN: 2329-6836

Natural Products Chemistry & Research

Elzinga et al., Nat Prod Chem Res 2015, 3:4

http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2329-6836.1000181

Research Article Open Access

Cannabinoids and Terpenes as Chemotaxonomic Markers in Cannabis

Elzinga S1, Fischedick J2, Podkolinski R1 and Raber JC1*

1The Werc Shop, LLC, Pasadena, CA 91107, USA 2Excelsior Analytical Lab, Inc., Union City, CA 94587, USA

Abstract

In this paper, we present principal component analysis (PCA) results from a dataset containing 494 cannabis ower samples and 170 concentrate samples analyzed for 31 compounds. A continuum of chemical composition amongst cannabis strains was found instead of distinct chemotypes. Our data shows that some strains are much more reproducible in chemical composition than others. Strains labeled as indica were compared with those labeled as sativa and no evidence was found that these two cultivars are distinctly different chemotypes. PCA of “OG” and “Kush” type strains found that “OG” strains have relatively higher levels of α-terpineol, fenchol, limonene, camphene, terpinolene and linalool where “Kush” samples are characterized mainly by the compounds trans-ocimene, guaiol, β-eudesmol, myrcene and α-pinene. The composition of concentrates and owers were compared as well. Although the absolute concentration of compounds in concentrates is much higher, the relative composition of compounds between owers and concentrates is similar.

Keywords: Cannabis; Tetrahydrocannabinol; Cannabidiol; Marijuana; Terpenoids; Terpenes; Strains; Taxonomy

Introduction

Cannabis has been used for medicinal and recreational purposes for millennia. From a taxonomic perspective scientists have been debating the presence of multiple species for quite some time. Some scientist delineates 3 species, C. sativa (hemp type), C. indica (drug type) and C. ruderalis (wild type), where others see this as just a variety of 1 species and associated subspecies thereunder [1-4]. is distinction is exceptionally important as most US States new laws consider Cannabis sativa L. and subspecies as the only legal cultivars allowed.

It is commonly accepted in cannabis culture to make the distinction between sativa and indica strains [5]. Indica plants are said to be short, densely branched and have wider leaves and are claimed to be sedative and good for pain relief. Sativa plants are tall, loosely branched and have long, narrow leaves. Sativa is claimed to be upli ing, stimulating and recommended for daytime use. is is the typical information a patient or recreational user will hear when they visit a medicinal cannabis dispensary or recreational store. However, we only found one published study that compared indica and sativa strains in patients [6]. is study showed that cannabis was uniformly e ective in relieving symptoms across a wide range of diagnostic categories. Indica strains appeared superior to sativa strains in improving energy and appetite. No statistical di erence between sativa and indica was found for pain, mood, nausea, muscle spasms, seizures, ocular issues, insomnia, awareness or neuropathy. Strains were assigned based upon morphology. is study was not blinded and the observed di erences could be a result of expectations by the patient.If sativa and indica truly have di erent physiological e ects upon consumption, some compound or interaction of compounds needs to be responsible for this. It has been shown that cannabidiol (CBD) can in uence the psychoactive e ects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) [7] and it has been postulated that the combination of phytocannabinoids and terpenes could result in complementary or synergistic results o en referred to as the “entourage e ect” [8]. In this paper we use PCA to investigate the analytical results for cannabinoids and terpenes in 494 cannabis ower samples and 170 cannabis concentrates. is analysis was performed in an attempt to investigate the potential existence of distinct cannabis chemotypes that could explain the di erent e ects people experience from speci c cannabis strains. Cannabinoids and terpenes were chosen as chemotype markers as they are considered to be the main physiologically active constituents in cannabis. Researchers

Nat Prod Chem Res

ISSN: 2329-6836 NPCR, an open access journal

have looked at cannabis from a chemotaxonomic perspective as well. Small and Beckstead split C. sativa L. into three chemotypes based upon CBD/THC ratio [4]. Type 1 has a CBD/THC ratio of <0.5, type II has an intermediate CBD/THC ratio of 0.5-3.0 and type 3 has a ratio of >3.0. DeMeijer et al. showed that this could be explained genetically by a model involving one locus, with two alleles. One allele codes for CBDA synthase where the other codes for THCA synthase. e alleles where shown to be co-dominant [9]. Paci co et al. later showed that classi cation using just the CBD/THC values will mask the existence of chemotypes with relatively high amounts of other cannabinoids [10]. Various authors have tried using the secondary metabolites in combination with PCA for forensic investigation of the geographical origin of the plant material [11-13]. e most elaborate study was performed by El Sohly et al. who analyzed 157 samples from six geographical regions and classi ed them using statistical analysis of 175 GC/MS peaks. Although they managed to di erentiate samples from di erent countries the success of this approach was limited as not only geographical location but many other cultivation variables in uenced the chemical composition of the owers. Much of the cannabis available in the western world is grown indoors o en with strict control of variables. e use of controlled lighting cycles, specialized soil, ne-tuned nutrients and pest control eliminate many of the environmental variables and will make geographical assigning of the plant di cult if not impossible. Fischedick et al. analyzed 11 cultivars of cannabis for 36 compounds and managed to discriminate the various cultivars with PCA [14]. Higher levels of cannabinoids correlated positively to higher levels of terpenoids (R2=0.7688). e authors of this paper showed that it is possible to grow cannabis with reproducible terpene and cannabinoid levels over di erent batches as long as environmental conditions and genetics are standardized. Alterations in grow cycle time, plant stress and di erent genotype can cause considerable di erences in the chemical pro le.

*Corresponding author: Raber JC, The Werc Shop, LLC, Pasadena, CA 91107, USA, Tel: 855-665-9993; E-mail: jeff@TheWercShop.com

Received June 30, 2015; Accepted July 13, 2015; Published July 20, 2015

Citation: Elzinga S, Fischedick J, Podkolinski R, Raber JC (2015) Cannabinoids and Terpenes as Chemotaxonomic Markers in Cannabis. Nat Prod Chem Res 3: 181. doi:10.4172/2329-6836.1000181

Copyright: © 2015 Elzinga S, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Volume 3 • Issue 4 • 1000181

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