Of black gold and green gold

Truffles and cannabis have more in common than you might assume.



With the beginning of spring, the end of Lent is approaching for lovers of haute cuisine, but unfortunately the annual truffle season also comes to an end. This is because the "black gold", the Perigord truffle (Tuber melanosporum), is only collected and available on the market from the beginning of November to mid-March.

Although the land area available for truffle cultivation is on the rise, especially in France, Spain and Italy, and lately also in Australia and the USA, the annual quantities produced are decreasing, not least because of the acute climate changes. But the lovers of this rare sac fungus are prepared to pay up to € 1,200 per kilo for their culinary pleasure. Now we may wonder whether this willingness is merely driven by the specific aromatic substances that are deemed essential for the survival of the tubular fungus. In fact, truffles are only found beneath the earth's surface and are therefore dependent on third parties for reproduction. Mainly due to the sulphurous scents, pigs, mice and some beetles find the fruiting body and support dissemination by passing its spores through their digestive tract. 

The gourmets' preference for the expensive tubers may also come from the fact that they contain a substance that acts as a messenger in our body, boosting balance and happiness, namely anandamide [1]. This fatty acid amide (its name is derived from the Sanskrit word for bliss, "Ananda") is one of the signal substances of our endocannabinoid system, which was discovered when searching for the receptor of the cannabis ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). It is uncertain, whether the substance concentration in the truffles and the bioavailability after consumption are sufficient for a physiological effect [2]. Moreover, we might add that numerous other plant sources are available whose ingredients ("phytocannabinoids") interact directly or indirectly with our endocannabinoid system [3].

The system has been named after thebest researched plant, having been used therapeutically for millennia, Cannabis sativa. In recent years, many countries have relaxed their restrictions on the use of cannabis, and, in justified cases, cannabis can also be prescribed in Germany since April 2017. The majority of users prefer the pulmonary administration because the ingredients have a very low bioavailability when taken orally (tea, cookies, etc.). However, smoking creates harmful combustion products and precise control of the applied dose is barely possible.

An innovative inhaler [4] now enables the inhalation of cannabis ingredients by controlled evaporation of pre-dosed cannabis portions. The device contains 70 individual doses, is equipped with numerous control systems, and communicates with the patient and the attending physician via smartphone. To produce the carriers containing 12 to 15 mg cannabis each, Harro Höfliger has developed a special dosing system, the prerequisite for precise and reproducible dosing of the active ingredients.




[1]    Pacioni, G. et al., Truffles contain endocannabinoid metabolic enzymes and anandamide, Phytochemistry, 110 (2015) 104-110.

[2]    Crozier, W. G. et al., Lipids in Neural Function: Modulation of Behavior by Oral Administration of Endocannabinoids Found in Foods, in: J.D. Fernstrom; R. Uauy; P. Arroyo (eds),Nutrition and Brain, Nestlé Nutrition Workshop, Vol. 5, pp. 169-187, Kager AG, Basel 2001.

[3]    Russo, E.B., Beyond Cannabis: Plants and the Endocannabinoid System, Trends Pharmacol Sci., 37 (2016) 594-605.

[4]    Eisenberg, E. et al., The Pharmacokinetics, Efficacy, Safety, and Ease of Use of a Novel Portable Metered-Dose Cannabis Inhaler in Patients With Chronic Neuropathic Pain: A Phase 1a Study Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy, 28 (2014) 216–225.



By Dr. Karlheinz Seyfang

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