THCP and CBDP – Study
Cannabis is a botanical gift that keeps on giving. As cannabis research intensifies, the chemical complexity and potential of this plant becomes more evident. On the eve of 2020, a group of Italian scientists announced the discovery of two new cannabinoids: THCP (tetrahydrocannabidiol) and CBDP (cannabidiol). If these names sound like THC and CBD, it is because they have a similar structure and function.
Currently, about 150 phytocannabinoids have been identified in the cannabis plant, although only a few have been isolated and studied. This is partly due to legal reasons – cannabis is still illegal at the federal level in the US, making research difficult – but also because most cannabis flowers are dominated by THC or CBD, making it difficult to isolate and study minor cannabinoids.
Modern spectrometry - used to identify unknown compounds in cannabis - and advanced analytical techniques are making it possible to better identify new compounds in cannabis.
The group of researchers who published this study have been diligent in profiling cannabis and last year also identified two other cannabinoids, THCB and CBDB. In addition to the novelty of gaining a better understanding of the plant and its myriad cannabinoids, the identification of previously unknown cannabis compounds also has huge therapeutic implications.
In this case, all signs point to THCP being a potential game-changer. So what is so special about this new cannabinoid?
THCP – What happens when you enhance THC’s binding ability?
In the newly discovered THCP molecule, the researchers found that the critical side chain in the molecule’s structure is elongated and has seven links. In comparison, ordinary THC has five links. To put this into context, naturally occurring cannabinoids with more than five links in this side chain have not yet been identified in cannabis.
The length of this side chain has been shown to play an important role in the action of THC on CB1 receptors in the body. A minimum of three bonds are required for THC to bind to the receptor and binding affinity peaks at eight bonds before activity begins to decrease again.
What are the implications of this extended side chain? The extended side chain of THCP has been shown to have an even stronger affinity for the CB1 receptor than regular THC, suggesting that it may be more potent.
When the researchers looked at the affinity of THCP for human CB1 and CB2 receptors, they found that THCP was 33 times more active at the CB1 receptor than regular THC and 5-10 times more active at the CB2 receptor than regular THC.
What are the implications of these findings?
One of the most important findings of the study is that THCP may explain why cannabis can elicit such different experiences in consumers. As the researchers were careful to point out, there is surprising variability in subjects’ responses to cannabis-based therapies, even at the same doses of THC.
Although we have always thought that the psychotropic effects of the plant are primarily due to THC, in reality they may be partly due to THCP or other extremely potent cannabinoids that have not yet been profiled. Increasing our knowledge of the pharmacological effects of THCP may help us to better assess the effects of cannabis extracts on humans.
Cannabis varieties rich in other smaller cannabinoids, such as THCP, may soon emerge. The cultivation of varieties rich in these smaller cannabinoids facilitates the production of the extract of these compounds, allowing consumers to enjoy the benefits of the specific pharmacological profile of each.
Overall, the study authors argue that comprehensive chemical profiling of cannabis is needed. The identification of minor cannabinoids and currently unknown cannabinoids may offer a therapeutic richness that has the potential to further transform medicine. Or not. However, it is worth finding out.
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Published by Blood15/02/2023