A new study claims that cannabis plants could be dangerous to the health of the consumer due to their ability to accumulate or ingest dangerous compounds in the soil.
Cannabis plants, also called accumulator plants, have an intrinsic property that allows them to absorb toxins like heavy metals and pesticides from the soil. This ability makes the plant perfect for environmental remediation. They are planted on polluted or contaminated sites to reduce toxins in the soil. However, while this has continued for a while, little thought has been given to how this practice will affect the consumers who ingest these plants and their derivatives.
Definition of heavy metals
Heavy metals are naturally occurring compounds that are metallic and have a high density. Some of these chemical elements are known to be toxic regardless of their concentration in the soil. Since they are found in the earth’s crust, it is inevitable that consumers will be exposed to these compounds.
Heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, nickel, and mercury can be classified as carcinogenic compounds as they leave consumers vulnerable to chronic ailments such as cancer. These compounds are found in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and even the water we drink. Since the latest study found that cannabis absorbs most of these compounds from the soil, it is high time to accept that our medicines can contain heavy metals. There are valuable heavy metals, but they must be taken in tiny doses. Some of these useful metals include zinc, copper, and iron. Both humans and plants require a certain amount of these compounds in order to thrive.
the Latest report
A new study, led by Penn State researchers, examines the ability of cannabis plants to absorb heavy metals and discusses the health implications for consumers. According to medicalxpress.com, the team is proposing a blueprint of strategies for farmers to reduce the uptake of heavy metals by their crops.
Louis Bengyella, assistant professor of plant science at Penn State, stated that lead is one of the serious carcinogens that, if consumed in high concentrations, could have drastic health effects. He added that many cannabis users are unknowingly exposed to many of these heavy metals. This could be a serious problem for cancer patients who consume medicinal cannabis drugs. He explained that although the cannabis-derived drugs might improve symptoms at this point, the carcinogenic toxic metals might do more harm than good over the course of treatment.
In regular cannabis users, these heavy metals can cause cancer and some neurological problems. The team discovered that heavy metal contamination in cannabis can lead to a variety of health problems as heavy metals accumulate in specific areas of the human body, causing chronic or fatal health conditions. For this reason, it is recommended that strains developed for phytoremediation purposes not be sold or used for human consumption. Using these strains, which serve to rid the environment of soil, water or air pollutants, puts consumers at increased risk of exposure to these chemical metals.
Common carcinogenic heavy metals
These are the four most common heavy metals that are a problem not just in cannabis growing but in agriculture in general.
nickel: Nickel is a heavy metal that the human body developed so that it can be safely absorbed in small quantities. The kidneys remove and secrete a large amount of the nickel we are exposed to, for example through particles in the air or other nickel products. On the other hand, high doses of nickel can lead to stomach pain, heart failure, kidney and lung damage, neurological effects, gastrointestinal complaints, dermatitis and cancer.
To lead: This is another notorious poison that has been linked to deadly health problems, especially in children with learning disabilities and developmental delays. Adults exposed to lead can experience bowel discomfort, headaches, joint pain, and reproductive problems. Although lead was previously used to make pencils and paint, it is now commonly found in the earth and air.
arsenic: High doses of arsenic can cause diarrhea, violent vomiting, clammy hands, low blood pressure, and even death from poor circulation. Arsenic is also carcinogenic and has been linked to a wide variety of cancers. This is a known human poison; In fact, it was used in the commission of murders.
Mercury: Mercury, a by-product of burning coal, is toxic to the nervous system. Tremors, coronary artery disease, mental changes, numbness, pain, memory problems, difficulty walking, and seizures are all symptoms of mercury poisoning.
More details on the report
The team found that toxic metal chemical elements such as lead and chromium can be transported and distributed from the root to the stem and eventually to the leaves and flowers of a plant. In cannabis plants, when these compounds are present in large quantities, they leave the plant through their trichomes (trichomes are tiny hair-like structures on flowers).
Bengyella said trichomes are one of the essential components of the cannabis plant that consumers seek. This structure contains the CBD oil as well as the THC that most consumers need. According to the team’s findings, the greatest threat to human health is when cannabis containing heavy metals is consumed in flammable form. This claim was supported by the results of an analysis of heavy metals in smoke from marijuana, which showed the presence of mercury, lead, nickel, arsenic, selenium and cadmium in significant proportions.
The report, published in Toxin Reviews, argues that the effects of these toxins on the system can be reduced through appropriate farming practices. Farmers are advised to leave polluted sites alone and always do a soil pH test before planting a strain of cannabis. Yes, the pH of the soil says something different about the number of heavy metals present. Consumers are also advised to request the heavy metals results for each variety purchased from a pharmacy. The health of consumers must not be endangered. So better rules need to be put in place to ensure that pharmacies and farmers are testing for all forms of soil toxins such as pesticides and carcinogenic heavy metals. Safety first!
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