THC and cannabidiol (CBD) are the cannabinoid superstars at the moment. However, cannabis plants can contain up to 150 different cannabinoids that we know of. And then there are those that are still being discovered, one of which is THCP. This previously unknown cannabinoid was recently isolated in Italy by a team of Italian scientists at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UniMore) from a cannabis strain known as FM2, which was provided to them by the Military Chemical Pharmaceutical Institute in Florence.
THCP is a very interesting cannabinoid because it possess a seven-link carbon structure. The carbon chain of cannabinoids is what allows these compounds to bind to the cannabinoid receptors in humans. In essence, the more links in the chain, the stronger the compound will bind to the receptors.
Before the discovery of THCP, there were no known naturally-occurring seven-sided cannabinoids, only synthetic ones. THC, the most psychoactive cannabinoid, contains five carbon links. What this means is that THCP is significantly more active than THC, up to 33x more, according to the Italian researchers.
Although no human tests were done, the researchers at UniMore did perform a tetrad test on mice. What they found was that THCP acted similarly to THC with respect to the effects it produced on the mice, including decreased rectal temperature, catalepsy, and hypomotility. If reproducible in humans, these results will help to explain the difference in potency and effects between the various strains of cannabis plants that possess similar levels of THC.
The researchers also isolated cannabidiforol (CBDP), which is a homolog of CBD. However, they did not conduct any studies on the compound.
Further research on both is planned, which will include searching for THCP and CBDP in other strains of cannabis. They’ll likely find them. According to Professor Giuseppe Cannazza, lead researcher of the team, “We have discovered these new cannabis compounds because no one was looking for them.”
1. Citti C, et al. A novel phytocannabinoid isolated from Cannabis sativa L. with an in vivo cannabimimetic activity higher than Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol: Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabiphorol. Nature. 2019; 9: 20335. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-56785-1