Botanical trivia question: True or false
Q. Because the stems of cannabis are inactive it’s therefore reasonable to assume the stems of all other medicinal plants are also inactive?
Answer – False: The active compound in Cannabis is neither acid nor alkaloid, rather an oil called THC, and oils are generally only found in plants seeds, leaves and flowers whereas most other medicinal plants contain compounds that are either acid or alkaloid as their active principles, and these compounds can be found throughout the entire plant. Examples of plants that are known to have activity in their stems are ephedra. All ephedra species are totally leafless plants, they have only stems, flowers, seeds, roots. Cacti: the part of the plants that we refer to as the cactus column, button or barrel, is, ac-cording to science, the plants stem, cactus have only stems, spines, flowers, seed fruits and no leaves. Numerous other plants also have activity in their stems, such as Banisteropsis caapi, also called Ayahuasa, is a plant harvested only for its stems; and all Poppies, it’s generally thought that only the poppy pods contain active compounds, but the second highest concentrations of medicinal alkaloids are found in the poppy stems, the leaves are also useful, but less so by as much as 10 times than the stems and pods.
RSB offers a selection of herbs that will contain stems, but rest assured any such herbs from us are marketed because of the known activity in their stems, such as Wild Lettuce. Pedicularis spp would have almost no activity without including the 70% by dry weight of its stems, and many more.