Zoe Biehl   |   November 22, 2019

Can DNA Tests Determine Cannabis Compatibility?

It turns out that the increasingly popular at-home DNA test kits aren’t just being used for learning about heritage anymore. Now several companies claim they can use DNA data to pair personalized cannabis strain recommendations to each individual.
Zoë Biehl is a professional writer and editor in the cannabis and technology spaces. She also is founder of Wild Lotus, a boutique digital content agency that provides high-quality content to publications and businesses around the world.

When it comes to cannabinoids, there is a vast range of products available on the legal market today. People react to different cannabis strains and products in different ways, and choosing the wrong strain or ingestion method can lead to negative experiences or ineffective results. 

To end the guessing game of which strains work best for each individual, several companies have begun to offer DNA testing and analysis services to give consumers advice on how they are likely to react to different types of cannabis products and strains.

 

What is DNA Compatibility Testing For Cannabis Patients?

Personalized cannabis DNA tests are promoted as being able to analyze a person’s DNA and use the results to provide recommendations of the most suitable cannabis strains for them. 

This development is a result of increasing amounts of research into cannabis, and how humans respond to it. The research has already produced a range of outcomes, indicating that variations in the genes responsible for creating the enzymes which metabolize cannabinoids can have widely different impacts on each individual that uses cannabis.

For example, studies have found that some people that have a variant in the gene CYP2C9 may have difficulty metabolizing THC and, therefore, should take care with edible products. 

By taking a DNA test, cannabis patents wouldn’t have to go through guessing games and potentially uncomfortable experiences to find out what forms and strains of cannabis work best for them, and which they may want to avoid.

 

Competing Companies 

There are several different companies now offering at-home DNA testing kits to determine cannabis compatibility. Although the service and the end goal is essentially the same, there are some differences in the technology and therefore, outcomes used by each company.

 

Strain Genie

One of the leading companies offering cannabis-specific DNA testing is Strain Genie. They claim their genetic analysis can match individuals with the best strains, terpenes, edibles, and flowers for them. Strain Genie uses technology that analyzes over 150 DNA biomarkers that can affect cannabis use and health, in order to give recommendations on types and dosages of cannabinoids and terpenes. If a customer already has DNA test results from another testing provider — such as from 23andMe or MyHeritage, for example — users can simply upload their results to receive their cannabis analysis.

 

MelixGX

MelixGX is a genomic health company that initially focused on fitness but later decided to focus on how genetic factors impact an individual’s reactions to cannabis. Like Strain Genie, MelixGX offers at-home testing kits that can be mailed back after a simple cheek swab. MelixGX then analyzes the DNA results with the help of a partner lab that uses a combination of Sanger sequencing, next-generation sequencing, and real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to produce results with the highest possible degree of accuracy. Personalized results, together with analysis and recommendations, are emailed to the client within three weeks.

 

Lobo Genetics

Like the other primary DNA testing services, Lobo Genetics’ service works by providing a home-testing kit which clients can efficiently perform themselves and then send the samples into the company for analysis. Lobo conducts all tests in their own testing facility, which allows them to be able to guarantee a controlled environment. Once DNA results are generated, Lobo then analyzes these to provide a personalized report and insights, which is sent directly to the client’s smartphone.

 

Green Genomix

Green Genomix is currently offering free reports to those that already have genetic data from 23andMe, Ancestry, or MyHeritage. Their results can help cannabis patients, and enthusiasts learn more about how different cannabinoid ratios can affect mood, behavior, anxiety, cognition, and metabolism. They also provide an individualized THC to CBD ratio that is optimal for pain relief and explain how a user may react to different doses of THC and CBD. 

 

How Effective Are These Cannabis DNA Tests?

Although tests may use standard DNA testing technology, there is not yet enough scientific data available specific to cannabis to draw conclusive results and give firm recommendations.

This means that, as things currently stand, test results may give only an indication of what may be the best and most effective products for individuals. As more scientific studies into the links between genetics and the effects of cannabis on the human body are conducted, these tests will be able to give more reliable and definitive results. 

Ultimately, we will have to wait and see how this technology develops and to see the results of further research into genetics and cannabinoids, to honestly know its advantages.  

“We are all different,” CEO of Green Genomix Jackson Rowland said in an interview with CannabisTech. “And genetics alone is insufficient in providing enough information to really connect people with the right products.”

Certainly, this new use of technology has challenges and limitations which need to be taken into consideration. However, at the same time, it has great potential to improve cannabis experiences, particularly for medicinal patients.

Although the deficit in scientific data currently available means that results need to be taken with a grain of salt, DNA testing for cannabis compatibility has the potential to help consumers make the best choice when choosing a cannabis product and particularly allowing patients to receive the most effective treatment.

 

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