Science

Chlorophyll In the Cannabis Plant

Bethan Jenkins
Written by Bethan Jenkins

Why does this pigment bind to membranes in the plant’s cells?

Cannabis is known for being a green plant. Many consumers may even refer to this powerful herb as “green”, due to its verdant coloring.

This color is caused by cannabis’ chlorophyll composition, which is contained inside the chloroplasts of plants cells. Chlorophyll is a green pigment that absorbs light to photosynthesize.

Plant genetics will determine how much chlorophyll a cannabis plant produces. For example, Sativa buds tend to contain less chlorophyll than Indicas, making them less green. (1)

As the art of growing cannabis has evolved, so have the techniques used to remove chlorophyll from cannabis. If you are growing cannabis, you might consider doing the same.

Then again, you might not. After all, this important biochemical is a natural anti-inflammatory! (2)

How and Why is Chlorophyll Produced?

Chloroplasts contain chlorophyll and they are only found in the mesophyll cells on the leaf’s interior.

Cannabis starts producing chlorophyll throughout various stages of its plant life cycle. Nitrogen is used to produce chlorophyll once it has been metabolized by the plant. (3)

Chlorophyll doesn’t necessarily taste great. However, the cannabis plant needs chlorophyll. It is essentially the blood of the plant kingdom. Without it, the plant wouldn’t be able to photosynthesize.

The more chlorophyll a cannabis plant starts producing, the more efficiently it can use the cells to photosynthesize and feed itself.

Aside from driving the global carbon cycle, the cells also produce most of the oxygen in our atmosphere. (4)

Evidence Shows Chlorophyll is a Beneficial Cannabis Compound

Chlorophyll closely resembles human hemoglobin. It is a crucial source of energy in the cannabis plant’s nutrition, just like human hemoglobin is for our health as we grow and develop.

From blood cell replenishment to increased energy levels and cell protection from oxidative stress, chlorophyll really does do for the cannabis plant what hemoglobin does for us humans.

Secondary compounds found in cannabis have been supported by Ethan Russo for their combined medical potential, known as the “entourage effect”. (5)

Removing Chlorophyll from Cannabis

Chlorophyll won’t get you high and is therefore not very beneficial to a lot of cannabis consumers. Although there are multiple types of chlorophyll, each possessing a different chemical structure, the green-colored compounds found in plants (chlorophyll a and b) contain long hydrocarbon chains, making them insoluble in water. (6) Although it is readily soluble in alcohol, chlorophyll is insoluble in non-polar alkanes, such as hexane and butane. Mixing sodium chloride in water enables chlorophyll to be extracted out of alcoholic or non-polar solutions, and precipitate out in the aqueous solution. (7)

Solvent cannabis preparations, such as cannabutter (plant material steeped in butter) tend to contain significantly lower levels of chlorophyll and other undesirable compounds. (8)

About the author

Bethan Jenkins

Bethan Jenkins

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