The cannabis plant offers a wealth of plant compounds called cannabinoids that some believe to have therapeutic properties. We are constantly learning more and more about the properties of this plant. Currently, we know of 150 organic chemical compounds found within the plant but scientists are continuing to discover more.
Most people are familiar with the two main cannabinoids – THC and CBD. But there is a suite of minor cannabinoids that scientists are interested in learning more about as well. Two especially promising cannabinoids in this camp are THCp and CBDp.
The Discovery of THCp and CBDp
In December of 2019, a group of Italian researchers stumbled across two compounds that were similar to THC and CBD while analyzing FM2, a medicinal cannabis strain. It caught their attention because it didn’t seem to behave as a normal minor cannabinoid would. They seemed to bond with chemical receptors in the body in a similar manner as one of the two big cannabinoids would. The researchers dubbed these compounds tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCp) and cannabidiphorol (CBDp).
THCp and CBDp not only bonded to receptors as effectively as THC and CBD, but they also seemed to bond more effectively too. They found that THCp specifically could be 30 times stronger than THC. This was a groundbreaking observation considering most minor cannabinoids usually don’t have a traceable effect on the body.
The Endocannabinoid System
When talking about any cannabinoid, we must touch on the endocannabinoid system. Tasked with maintaining homeostasis in mammals, this system helps regulate hormones, blood pressure, appetite, mood, pain, inflammation, and more. It features two main chemical receptors – CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found throughout the body while CB2 receptors are located in the immune system and gastrointestinal system.
Phytocannabinoids work with the endocannabinoid system to affect the body. They can mimic the naturally occurring chemicals of a mammal’s body and affect the state of their homeostasis. The plant chemicals will bond with these receptors to create the intoxicating and relaxing effects of THC and CBD respectively. THCp and CBDp also work with the endocannabinoid system, amplifying the system as it works with the body.
The Potential of THCp and CBDp
While THCp and CBDp were both landmark discoveries, THCp garnered the most attention from the researchers. They found that it has a similar effect to THC but with a far more effective rate. With a similar molecular structure to THC, they believe the THCp cannabinoid may be what creates variations in different strains of marijuana.
THCp is believed to bond better with the endocannabinoid receptors because they have a seven-atom side chain in contrast to the five-atom side chain of THC. The scientists observed that THCp bonded 33 times more efficiently with the CB1 receptors and 10 times more efficiently with the CB2 receptors. They believe this is due to the longer atom side chain.
CBDp also has a seven-atom side chain while CBD only has a five-atom side chain. There is still a lot more research to be done around this mighty minor cannabinoid. So far, researchers have observed that CBDp has a similar molecular structure and function as CBD. They hope to deduce if it has better anti-inflammatory and anti-seizure properties than CBD as they conduct further studies on the plant compound.
What’s Next for These Cannabinoids?
We still have more questions than answers about THCp and CBDp. For now, it seems like these compounds have a lot of potential for pharmaceutical and therapeutic applications down the road. The scientists that discovered these compounds believe that they should get promoted from “minor” to “main” cannabinoids due to their impressive efficiency in the endocannabinoid system.
But we will just have to wait and see what more we can uncover about THCp and CBDp with more research.