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This Delightfully Named Moss Contains a Compound That Might Be Better at Pain Relief Than THC

Scientists in Switzerland think they’ve found a moss-like plant that’s even better at relieving pain than cannabis.

This simple and unassuming plant is endemic to New Zealand and Australia, and it’s name, however unflattering, is liverwort.

For a little over two decades, liverwort has been known to contain perrottetinene (PET), a compound that closely resembles tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis.

But while there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that liverwort can give you a mild but “legal high”, until recently, nothing was known about the plant’s actual pharmacology.

Using mouse models, scientists at the University of Bern have shown for the first time that the active substance in liverwort works in a similar way to THC.

If the findings are verified, it could mean that there is another plant, other than cannabis, that can produce a variant of this cannabinoid.

“It’s astonishing that only two species of plants, separated by 300 million years of evolution, produce psychoactive cannabinoids,” says senior author Jürg Gertsch, who researches molecular pharmacology of the endocannabinoid system at the University of Bern.

The first liverworts arose as green algae some 400 million years ago, well before more advanced, flowering plants like cannabis came along.

Even still, the physical structure of PET looks strikingly similar to THC. In fact, apart from its three-dimensional shape and its extra benzyl group, the individual atoms of PET are linked in a very similar pattern.

As such, PET can easily make its way into the brain. Once there, the researchers found that it specifically attaches itself to cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, but at levels ten times lower than THC.

This means that while liverwort’s psychoactive substance appears to provide many of the same medicinal benefits as THC, it is not strong enough to induce the same euphoric “high”.

What’s more, unlike THC, PET was also found to inhibits prostaglandins in the brain that can cause inflammation.

“This natural substance has a weaker psychoactive effect, and at the same time, is capable of inhibiting inflammatory processes in the brain,” explains first author Andrea Chicca, who does research in drug discovery and development at the University of Bern.

Despite what some might think, the weaker psychoactive effect isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It could make the compound far more useful in medicine.

Comparing the medicinal effects of PET and THC, the researchers found that PET was better at relieving pain and reducing inflammation in the brain. It also came with fewer side effects.

And, even better, it’s legal, which means that scientists can actually study the plant without having to worry about restrictions on its use.

But even though research on liverwort is still in its infancy, the authors of the new paper think they are on to something.

“In a direct comparison I think perrottetinene is the better version of THC,” Gertsch told Motherboard.

The researchers are now calling for pre-clinical studies on the psychoactive substance to better determine its effect on chronic and inflammatory pain.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

Scientists in Switzerland think they’ve found a moss-like plant that’s even better at relieving pain than cannabis.

How To Kill Weeds Not Moss – Removing Weeds From Moss Gardens

Perhaps you’re contemplating turning part of your yard into a moss garden or you’ve heard it’s a great ground cover for under trees and around paving stones. But what about weeds? After all, removing weeds from moss by hand sounds like a lot of hard work. Luckily, controlling weeds in moss is not difficult.

Kill Weeds, Not Moss

Moss prefers shady locations. Weeds, on the other hand, need plenty of light to grow. Generally speaking, weeds growing in moss isn’t usually a problem. Pulling the stray weed by hand is easy enough, but neglected areas of the garden can easily become overrun with weeds. Luckily, there are moss-safe products for weed control in moss gardens.

Mosses are bryophytes, meaning they don’t have true roots, stems and leaves. Unlike most plants, moss doesn’t move nutrients and water through a vascular system. Instead, they absorb these elements directly into their plant bodies. This primordial trait makes using standard weed killers safe for removing weeds from moss.

Herbicides containing glyphosate can be safely used to kill weeds growing in moss. When applied to the leaves of growing plants, glyphosate kills both grasses and broadleaf plants. It is absorbed through the leaves and travels through a plant’s vascular system killing leaves, stems and roots. Since bryophytes don’t have a vascular system, glyphosates kill weeds, not moss.

Other systemic broadleaf weeds killers, such as 2,4-D, can be used for controlling weeds in moss. If you’re concerned that using herbicides could discolor or even kill the moss, cover it with newspaper or cardboard. (Be sure to leave the weed stems with new growth leaves exposed.)

Preventative Weed Control in Moss Gardens

Pre-emergence treatments containing corn gluten or trifluralin will prohibit seed germination. These are especially useful for areas where weed seeds blow into moss beds. This type of treatment is not effective for removing weeds from moss, but works to prevent new weed seeds from sprouting.

Pre-emergence herbicides require reapplication every 4 to 6 weeks during weed germination season. It won’t harm existing moss, but could possibly inhibit growth of new moss spores. Additionally, activities that disturb the ground, like planting and digging, will disrupt the effectiveness of these products and they will need reapplied.

It’s advisable to wear protective clothing and gloves when applying herbicides and pre-emergence products. Always read and follow all manufacturer’s labeled instructions for proper use of the product and disposal information for the empty containers.

Perhaps you're contemplating turning part of your yard into a moss garden. But what about weeds? After all, removing weeds from moss by hand sounds like a lot of hard work. Luckily, controlling weeds in moss is not difficult. Learn how to kill weeds, not moss in this article.