The world of cannabis continues to astonish as ongoing research sheds light on its chemical complexity and untapped potential. Italian researchers made an exciting announcement at the dawn of 2020, introducing THCP (tetrahydrocannabiphorol) and CBDP (cannabidiphorol) as two newly identified cannabinoids. These compounds bear resemblance to the well-known THC and CBD, both in structure and function.
While approximately 150 phytocannabinoids have been identified within the cannabis plant, only a few have been extensively studied and isolated. This limitation has been partly attributed to legal constraints, particularly in the United States where cannabis remains federally illegal, posing challenges for comprehensive research. Additionally, the dominance of THC and CBD in most cannabis strains complicates the isolation and examination of minor cannabinoids. However, advancements in cutting-edge spectrometry and analytical techniques are revolutionizing the identification of previously unknown cannabis compounds.
The diligent group of researchers behind this study has made significant strides in profiling cannabis, having previously identified two other cannabinoids, THCB and CBDB, in the preceding year. Beyond the novelty of unraveling the mysteries of the plant and its diverse cannabinoids, the discovery of previously unknown compounds holds tremendous therapeutic potential.
Particularly noteworthy is THCP, which shows promise as a game-changer in the field. So, what sets this newfound cannabinoid apart?
Binding Power of TPHC
In the realm of cannabis exploration, a groundbreaking molecule called THCP has emerged, captivating researchers with its unique properties. The discovery unveils a fascinating aspect of THCP’s structure—a notably elongated side chain consisting of seven links, in contrast to the standard five links found in regular THC. Notably, naturally occurring cannabinoids with side chains longer than five links have yet to be detected in cannabis.
The length of this side chain plays a pivotal role in how THC interacts with the body’s CB1 receptors, which are integral to the endocannabinoid system. To establish a binding connection, THC requires a minimum of three links, with optimal binding affinity occurring at eight links before diminishing in activity.
What does the elongated side chain mean for THCP? Excitingly, THCP exhibits an even stronger affinity for the CB1 receptor than its traditional counterpart, suggesting its potential for heightened potency and effects.
In laboratory tests evaluating THCP’s binding affinity to human CB1 and CB2 receptors, researchers discovered that THCP boasts 33 times greater activity on the CB1 receptor compared to regular THC, while also being 5-10 times more active on the CB2 receptor.
This revelation unlocks a new realm of possibilities, shedding light on THCP’s immense potential and paving the way for further exploration and research.
What about CBDP?
In the realm of newly discovered cannabinoids, CBDP stands out with its elongated side chain comprising seven links, mirroring the unique feature found in THCP. However, the researchers behind the study have indicated that the investigation into CBDP’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-epileptic properties is currently not a primary focus.
Why is that? It is because CBD, the well-known counterpart to CBDP, has already been established to have limited binding affinity with both CB1 and CB2 receptors. Therefore, it is unlikely that an extended side chain will significantly enhance CBDP’s ability to bind effectively to these receptors. Nonetheless, the researchers acknowledge that science holds unexpected surprises, and future research may unveil hidden potency or therapeutic qualities in CBDP that are yet to be discovered.
While the current focus may not be on CBDP’s binding affinity, the exploration of this enigmatic cannabinoid continues, fueled by the anticipation of potential revelations and uncharted territories in the realm of cannabis research.
Why Should I Care?
The recent study’s findings have far-reaching implications that could revolutionize our understanding and utilization of cannabis. One crucial implication highlighted by the researchers is that the newly discovered cannabinoid, THCP, may contribute to the diverse experiences individuals have when consuming cannabis. Despite receiving equal doses of THC, consumers often exhibit highly variable responses to cannabis-based therapies. This suggests that the psychotropic effects traditionally attributed to THC alone could also be influenced by potent cannabinoids like THCP, which have yet to be extensively studied. Exploring the pharmacological effects of THCP can significantly enhance our assessment of cannabis extracts’ impact on individuals, leading to more personalized and effective therapies.
Furthermore, the study underscores the importance of cultivating cannabis strains that are not solely THC- or CBD-dominant. Thanks to advancements in genetics research, there is growing availability of strains that yield higher quantities of minor cannabinoids such as CBDV, CBG, and THCV. In the near future, it is conceivable that cannabis varieties enriched with other minor cannabinoids, including THCP, will be cultivated. This cultivation approach allows for the extraction of specific compounds with distinct pharmacological profiles, enabling consumers to benefit from the unique therapeutic properties of each compound.
The authors of the study emphasize the significance of conducting comprehensive chemical profiling of cannabis. This profiling process, which involves identifying both minor and previously unknown cannabinoids, holds the potential to unlock therapeutic riches that could profoundly impact the field of medicine. While further research is needed to fully comprehend the therapeutic potential of these compounds, the pursuit of knowledge in this area is undeniably worthwhile. By delving deeper into the chemical complexity of cannabis, we open doors to groundbreaking medical advancements that can transform lives.