Medical marijuana is fast gaining credibility as a valid pain relief treatment, with data from various studies attesting to the medical and health benefits of cannabis as a viable alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.

And now, researchers have uncovered a new reason why: the cannabis plant produces pain-relieving molecules that are 30 times more potent at reducing inflammation than aspirin.

What makes the discovery so groundbreaking is that it could carve a new path to natural pain relief medications that would save patients who suffer chronic pain from the risks of addiction associated with opioid-based pain killers.

According to the team of researchers at Canada’s University of Guelph, they found out how the two important molecules—cannflavin A and cannflavin B—were produced through a combination of genomics and biochemistry.

The two cannflavins, known as “flavonoids,” were identified in 1985 when scientists proved that they had benefits which could fight inflammation at a gram-for-gram rate of about 30 times that of aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid.

However, prohibitionist laws in Canada prevented further research into the potent anti-inflammatory qualities of the molecules.

But with Canada joining the growing bandwagon of countries legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, molecular and cellular biology Professors Tariq Akhtar and Steven Rothstein were able to resume an analysis into cannabis and how it produces cannflavins.

In a press release, Akhtar explained:

“Our objective was to better understand how these molecules are made, which is a relatively straightforward exercise these days.

There are many sequenced genomes that are publicly available, including the genome of Cannabis sativa, which can be mined for information. If you know what you’re looking for, one can bring genes to life, so to speak, and piece together how molecules like cannflavins A and B are assembled.”

Their full findings, which were published in the peer-reviewed journal Phytochemistry, offer an exciting opportunity to create new natural health products with equal or greater power than traditional synthetic or opioid-based pain relievers.