At the turn of 2020, a team of Italian scientists announced the discovery of two new cannabinoids, giving another boost to research on active cannabis compounds.

In an attempt to define the cannabinoid profile of the “autarchic” medical cannabis strain produced by the Military Chemical Pharmaceutical Institute of Florence, a new cannabinoid with a slightly different chemical structure to THC was discovered, followed by a cannabinoid similar to CBD.

Given the medical relevance of THC and CBD, this scientific result could be significant.

WHAT ARE THCP AND CBDP?

Almost 150 phytocannabinoids have been detected in the cannabis plant, though most of them have not been isolated. Only recently have scientists around the world begun to understand how the plant exerts its medical and psychoactive effects.

This new research proved that cannabis flowers might contain small amounts of previously unknown cannabinoids. These new arrivals were named THCP and CBDP[1] (tetrahydrocannabiphorol and cannabidiphorol).

These compounds appear similar to the well-known THC and CBD, respectively, and consequently could play a role in the mix of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that determine the entourage effect of a specific cannabis strain.

THCP: THE “LONGER” THC

THCP has the same chemical structure as Δ⁹-THC, but with a seven-term alkyl side chain. This chain creates a stronger bond with mammalian CB1 receptors. In fact, pharmacological tests on animals revealed THCP to be over 30 times more potent in its binding affinity.

This may, or may not, result in a significantly more potent psychoactive and medicinal effect.

In a lab test performed by the scientists, THCP was found to induce hypomotility, analgesia, catalepsy, and decreased rectal temperature, suggesting it to have a similar effect on rats as THC.

However, it’s still unknown what this means for humans, as it is unknown whether different strains contain different amounts of THCP.

CBDP: THE “MYSTERIOUS” CBD

Just like THCP, the newly discovered CBDP has a longer “tail” than its counterpart.

However, since regular CBD has a poor binding affinity with CB receptors to begin with, CBDP’s long tail does not seem to increase this affinity.

Therefore, researchers have not yet performed any biological tests on CBDP, leaving future research to find out if CBDP’s longer side chain could improve binding affinity to other receptors, or play a significant role in the entourage effect.

At the moment, it makes little sense to speculate whether CBDP has any therapeutic value.

THCP CBDP

MEDICAL IMPLICATIONS

Research has shown that side chain length plays a crucial role in the binding affinity between cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. It stands to reason then that cannabinoids like THCP might be therapeutically viable, potentially to an even greater degree than other, more popular cannabinoids.

THCP and CBDP are considered particularly interesting because they are the first cannabinoids discovered with “tails” longer than five links. In the future, this could mean strains with high THCP levels or THCP-rich concentrates, for example.

Further research might also reveal THCP and CBDP to play a role in the subjective response to cannabis.

The results of this new research highlight just how important it is to carry out comprehensive chemical profiling of medicinal cannabis strains, coupled with investigations on the pharmacological activity of all minor cannabinoids.

A STEP FURTHER IN CANNABINOID RESEARCH

The discovery of THCP and CBDP actually came after the discovery of two other cannabinoids, Δ9-THCB (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabutol) and CBDB (cannabidibutol). Each has a side chain comprised of four carbon atoms (called butyl) instead of five, as occurs in their THC and CBD counterparts.

Just like THCP, THCB appears to display similar, but not identical, activity to the major cannabinoid THC, acting as a partial cannabinoid receptor agonist. In an inaugural test on an acute inflammatory pain model, THCB was shown to produce beneficial effects.

At present, the same analysis methods cannot be applied to CBDB since its molecular targets are not precisely known.

These results are today encouraging scientists in their search for other “long tail” cannabinoids, with the aim of characterising the entire cannabinoid profile of a single cultivar.

In recent years, genetic research and selective breeding have made much higher concentrations of minor cannabinoids available. As we wait to see what further research reveals about these newly discovered cannabinoids, visions of future product ranges become an exciting prospect.

External Resources:
  1. A novel phytocannabinoid isolated from Cannabis sativa L. with an in vivo cannabimimetic activity higher than Δ 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol: Δ 9 -Tetrahydrocannabiphorol | Scientific Reports https://www.nature.com
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