Genetics Is The Reason Why Cannabis Affects Everyone Differently
Have you ever wondered why sativa strains make you sleepy, but it seems to energize everyone else?
You’re not alone: it’s a fact that cannabis affects everyone differently, but scientists still aren’t exactly sure of the reason why.
Now, a genetic expert has shed some light on why this happens.
John Lem, a genetic technology expert, was approached by the head of a cannabis firm asking him to explain why he had adverse effects from cannabis while everyone else didn’t. Lem took matters into his own hands to investigate the genetic reasons behind this, and the result was Lobo Genetics.
“Looking into the science, we came to the conclusion that there is actually a genetic basis for someone’s reaction to THC,” Lem explained to the CBC.
Lobo Genetics uses a cheek swab test to determine how your body reacts to THC. According to Lem, genes can provide valuable information on how THC is metabolized, if it will give you memory loss, if you’re prone to paranoia, or if you have a risk for developing schizophrenia. “If people understand how their body reacts to cannabis, that’s a good thing,” he says, particularly because it can help consumers make informed decisions when buying cannabis products.
The test is pretty simple: all you need to do is use a swab to get a sample from the interior of your cheek, then send it in to them. After a few days, you can view your results on the Lobo website. The information is categorized based on three main categories: metabolism, memory loss, and psychosis risk. Your risk will also be graded from high to low.
“I, for instance, score high for memory loss and psychosis both short term and long term,” Lem said.
However, people should be careful not to rely on just one source of information to make decisions on cannabis, says Lem. “As long as people have all the facts, including their genetic information, they can make their own determination on what’s the best course of action,” Lem said. “We fully encourage people to speak to a genetic counsellor or a healthcare practitioner when they have their results.”
Lobo Genetics is based in Canada, and he thinks that these tests can be helpful particularly when edibles become legal in the Canadian market by fall. “Knowing how your body is reacting can be helpful,” he says. “If you metabolize THC slower, you might want to stick to a smaller dose.”
There are currently five testing labs in Nova Cannabis shops within Alberta, though they have intentions of expanding throughout the country soon. The kit can also be purchased online.
The DNA-Cannabis Link
Our genes play an important part of who we are: from the color of our hair to our personalities, it’s why we’re all so different and it also has something to do with the way we react to cannabis.
Research shows that genetic mutations can also affect certain genes that impact our cognitive ability when we consume THC. People with a “functional polymorphism” have been showed to experience more memory loss due to THC while people with other types of genes stay relatively unaffected.
That’s just one of the reasons why DNA affects how THC works in the body.
Another reason how genes play a role in how we metabolize THC has to do with our endocannabinoid system. When we ingest cannabis orally, such as by consuming edibles, capsules, or tinctures, the THC has to travel through the digestive system as well as the liver, where the cannabinoids are metabolized before entering the brain and bloodstream. The liver is home to many different kinds of enzymes such as proteins that have been encoded by the DNA; this is why we not only process cannabis differently and have varying reactions but it also affects how we are when we consume alcohol and other types of medications.
There is an infinite number of individual differences when it comes to liver functions, which all have an effect on how we ingest edibles.
Genetic mutations can also be present from the day we are born, and they can also happen as a result of our lifestyle and habits. Genes can be turned on and off pretty much constantly throughout our life, particularly as a response to stimuli such as stress, diet, and viruses.
DNA tests such as those from Lobo Genetics may only be the beginning, but these types of analysis will be critical to helping us better understand cannabis in the future.