healthHealth and Medicinehealthmedicine

New Source Of CBD Found In Wild Brazilian Weed (No, Not That Kind)

Before you get any ideas, smoking the plant certainly won’t get you high.


Tom Hale


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Trema micrantha leaves growing on a tree.

Sweet leaf: Trema micrantha can grow into a tree over 10 meters (33 feet) tall.

Image credit: Guimerlhe via Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Cannabidiol (CBD) is well-known as an active ingredient in cannabis that's derived from the hemp plant, but scientists have now discovered this potentially useful compound is also produced by a plant that grows wildly in the Americas: Trema micrantha blume.

Molecular biologists at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro managed to obtain CBD from the fruits and flowers of the shrub-like plant, Agência Brasil reports. Crucially, the plant does not contain any tetrahydrocannabinol (better known as THC), the psychoactive ingredient that makes you feel high. 


It’s hoped the discovery could help to provide an alternative source of CBD that avoids the many legal hurdles that surround the cannabis plant in many parts of the world. 

“There would also be no legal restrictions on planting, since it can be planted freely. Plus, it’s spread all over Brazil. It could become an easier and cheaper source of cannabidiol,” Rodrigo Soares Moura Neto, Laboratory Head and Professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, told the public Brazilian news agency.

Along with Brazil, the plant has been reported to grow in wider parts of tropical South America, Mexico, Central America, the Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and southern Florida. 

Trema micrantha, sometimes known as Jamaican nettletree, can grow into a tree over 10 meters (33 feet) tall. It’s part of the Cannabaceae family, which includes both hemp and hops used to brew beer. Given its hardiness and ability to rapidly grow, it’s often used in urban landscapes and reforestation projects. It also has been used for centuries as a traditional medicine. 


Public interest in CBD has surged in the past few years following a stream of research that has shown the compound may have some use in treating some health conditions. Some of the most promising results have come from studies of its treatment of certain epilepsy disorders. People also use CBD to treat anxiety, movement disorders, and pain. 

While the early research is promising, many health authorities are still cautious of CBD, maintaining that there’s not yet enough high-quality data to draw conclusions from.

This latest work involving Trema micrantha is unpublished and it will still be several years until it jumps through all the necessary hoops to make it onto pharmacy shelves. Nevertheless, it’s clear that a demand for such a product is there.

Oh, and before you get any ideas, smoking the plant certainly won’t get you high.


"That definitely won't do anything for you," Professor Neto told AFP.


healthHealth and Medicinehealthmedicine
  • tag
  • medicine,

  • Cannabis,

  • CBD,

  • cannabidiol,

  • cannabinoid,

  • Trema micrantha