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WUR investigates active ingredients of cannabis and vanilla

Published on
October 8, 2020

Each crop contains a collection of ingredients. Some of these have positive effects on the human body, or are simply tasty. The Greenhouse Horticulture and Flower Bulbs Business Unit of Wageningen University & Research measures the content of specific ingredients for cannabis and vanilla, among other things, and is investigating whether this content can be controlled with specific cultivation strategies.

Effects of cultivation measures

WUR compares the levels of active ingredients found in cannabis with those in literature. The next step is to examine the effects of cultivation measures. For example, does a different irrigation result in a higher cannabinoid content, and what effect does a warmer greenhouse climate have, for example?

For medicinal use, it is important that these levels are constant throughout the year: in order to be able to control, it must therefore be known what the effects of cultivation measures on the ingredients are. WUR is researching the same for Vanillin and glucovanillin, ingredients that give vanilla its specific taste.

Extracts and separation technique

WUR measures substances using chromatography: a separation technique that allows mixtures of different substances to be separated into their constituent components. This is done in a so-called HPLC laboratory (high-performance liquid chromatography).

When researching cannabis for medicinal use, scientists mix extracts of dried plant material with alcohol. The liquid extract is then tested for various cannabinoids, the main active ingredients of the cannabis plant. The best-known cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

With the arrival of the HPLC lab, the research techniques of the Flavour lab will also be further improved. For example, it is being examined whether the measurements of vitamin C and sugar can take place on the HPLC in the future.

This research is funded by various clients. Many of these projects fit in with the programme Kas als Apotheek.‚Äč