For years, researchers have touted the benefits of cannabinoids like CBD for conditions such as anxiety and chronic pain. But they always accepted that their understanding of the plant and the compounds it contains is limited. Not enough research had been done.
Now investigators have found two new cannabinoids: THCP and CBDP, publishing their findings in Nature’s Scientific Reports. The research group based in Italy, says that these compounds, known as tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) and cannabidiphorol (CBDP), are similar to THC and CBD because of their chemical structure and function.
The discovery expands the number of chemicals that cannabis is known to contain. Until this point, researchers had counted more than 150 terpenes, compounds that the plant uses to protect itself from UV light and deter predators.
In the US, research into the chemical constituents of cannabis is a challenge. Individual states are pushing ahead with legalization, but the plant is still illegal at the federal level. Scientists at government agencies have been reluctant to investigate its chemical properties, potentially explaining why we are only learning about these new cannabinoids now.
There are technical reasons for the delay too. Most cannabis plants are CBD- or THC-dominant, depending on the strain. It means that when researchers apply standard spectroscopy techniques, minor cannabinoids tend to get lost in the noise. Recently more advanced technologies have become available. It is these that allowed the Italian researchers to pick out fainter signals in the data.
The therapeutic implications of this discovery are profound. Researchers believe that one day it may be possible for producers to take raw cannabis plants, extract the THCP or CBDP, concentrate it, and then sell it as a potential remedy.
It also opens up new channels of scientific investigation. These compounds could have wildly different effects on the body when delivered in similar doses to their better-known counterparts.
THCP May Interact More Strongly With The Body’s Endocannabinoid System Than THC
When researchers characterized the structure of the THCP molecule, they found that it looked similar to regular THC, save for the addition of two extra links on the critical side chain. For years, investigators have known that you need at least three links on the chain for THC molecules to bind to the body’s cannabinoid receptors. Furthermore, when you add more links, you increase its affinity for the C1 and C2 receptors.
THCP has seven links, implying that it may interact with the body even more powerfully than THC. When the researchers investigated the issue further, they found that THCP was more than 3,300 percent more active binding to the C1 receptor, and between 500 and 1,000 percent more active at the C2 receptor.
Researchers Are Reluctant To Make Any Claims About CBDP
While the results from the THCP research are profound, researchers are less interested in investigating the binding capacity of CBDP. It is already well-known that CBD has a weak affinity for either the C1 or C2 receptors. And researchers doubt that the extra chain links that CBDP has will make a difference.
The hope remains though that CBDP will have therapeutic benefits that go beyond those of CBD. Research to answer this question, however, is yet to get going.
What Do These Findings Mean For The Cannabis Community?
The discovery of THCP means that all prior research on the effects of THC on people requires reevaluation. For years, scientists chalked up the variety of responses to the chemical to natural biological variation between study subjects. These new findings, however, cast doubt on that interpretation. THCP could have been driving the disparities all along.
The discovery of THCP may also explain why the psychotropic effects of cannabis appear to vary from person and person and experiment to experiment, even under controlled conditions.
For the wellness community, CBDP presents a compelling new avenue of research. Already some cannabis varieties contain higher quantities of other minor cannabinoids like THCV and CBG. Growers will be keen to develop new strains engineered to provide more of the compound. It is not, therefore, beyond the realm of imagination to see a shift in the direction of CBDP, should it prove therapeutic in future research.
Products containing these new compounds are yet to find their way onto the market. Even so, we still have plenty of other products in stock. Try Inyo’s cannabis delivery or curbside pickup service today. No hassle; no fuss.