Published: February 20, 2021
Abstract: The cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa L.) produces an estimated 545 chemical compounds of different biogenetic classes. In addition to economic value, many of these phytochemicals have medicinal and physiological activity. The plant is most popularly known for its two most-prominent and most-studied secondary metabolites—Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both Δ9-THC and CBD have a wide therapeutic window across many ailments and form part of a class of secondary metabolites called cannabinoids—of which approximately over 104 exist.
This review will focus on non-cannabinoid metabolites of Cannabis sativa that also have therapeutic potential, some of which share medicinal properties similar to those of cannabinoids. The most notable of these non-cannabinoid phytochemicals are flavonoids and terpenes. We will also discuss future directions in cannabis research and development of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals. Caflanone, a flavonoid molecule with selective activity against the human viruses including the coronavirus OC43 (HCov-OC43) that is responsible for COVID-19, and certain cancers, is one of the most promising non-cannabinoid molecules that is being advanced into clinical trials.
As validated by thousands of years of the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, vast anecdotal evidence abounds on the medicinal benefits of the plant. These benefits are attributed to the many phytochemicals in this plant, including non-cannabinoids. The most promising non-cannabinoids with potential to alleviate global disease burdens are discussed.