The Discovery of THCP, CBDP, and THCV demonstrates how much more we have to learn from studying marijuana.
The cannabis plant produces over 400 chemicals, just one, THC, is responsible for getting people high.
Or that's what we thought. Last year, a group of Italian researchers discovered three new cannabinoids, cannabinoids that could change the way we look at Cannabis entirely.
THCP and CBDP
The first is called tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) and is allegedly 30x more potent than THC. Whether this means it will get you 30 times more high - or if the cannabinoid is psychoactive in any way - is still unknown.
However, THCP is more active when administered to mice than THC in low doses.
The scientists also discovered cannabidiphorol (CBDP), a cousin of CBD, the popular wellness supplement.
The discovery of THCP, which was highly publicized in scientific reports, may explain the variability of getting high - why smoking different strains of marijuana can give users notably different experiences.
It also explains the medicinal aspects of THC. The compound has been successful in treating nausea and appetite loss in HIV and cancer patients, amongst other symptoms.
Cannabis flowers can be compared to tiny factories, producing hundreds of chemicals, around 70 of which are cannabinoids. These drugs mimic natural chemicals produced by the body to provide homeostasis.
Although few cannabinoids have been studied in great depth, many offer promising medical applications.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), could be used to regulate obesity.
This is because it can moderate glucose levels in the human body. THCV concentrations in most strains of Cannabis are so minute that smoking cannabis daily will do little to prevent diabetes.
As it stands, what THCP and CBDP Could be useful for is still to be decided. However, it's entirely possible that these chemicals may treat certain conditions better than chemical alternatives.
These compounds could have completely novel medical applications or none. We will find out as clinical trials will create new evidence, which could take several years.
The recent discovery of these three cannabinoids demonstrates just how much we can learn if we study marijuana. Due to the criminalization of Cannabis many years ago, research has been impeded by marijuana status as an illegal drug in many parts of the world.
Drugs are costly to study, in the case of marijuana, the amount of weed available to study is low, unlike the vast amounts of Cannabis that many people smoke recreationally.
These compounds were discovered due to advances in a practice known as mass spectrometry. This is a popular tool that scientists use to weigh the exact mass of atoms and identify compounds.
The Italian research team or planning to discover the potential applications for medicinal use relating to these cannabinoids. They will begin by investigating CBDP's anti-inflammatory and anti-convulsive properties. A recent piece published in the Scientific Reports journal describes this discovery as remarkable.
Cannabis and the Human Body
As humans, we have utilized the psychoactive properties of Cannabis for over a thousand years. However, it's only recently that science professionals have started to understand precisely how cannabis plants confer its psychoactive effects.
During the late 1980s, scientists found a new type of brain receptor that responded directly to the compounds found in Cannabis. Just a few years later, another receptor was discovered, the two receptors were labeled as CB1 and CB2.
These two receptors are founds in substantial volumes throughout the entire human body. They are stimulated by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). There are also a large number of naturally produced neurotransmitters, endocannabinoids, that also interact with both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
The fact that chemicals present in Cannabis can bind with our CB1 and CB2 receptors is remarkable. It proves that our bodies can work in synergy with various compounds found in the cannabis plant to promote well-being and produce homeostasis in the central nervous system.
THCP Has been tested in vitro on both CB1 and CB2 receptors. It proved to have a 33 for affinity with CB1 compared to THC.
Corresponding author Guiseppe Cannazza explained in an email to New Atlas. "This does not mean that it is active in vivo. Therefore, Dr. L. Luongo tested THCP on mice to evaluate its cannabimimetic activity. The results suggest that THCP acts similarly to THC but at lower doses (about half dose)."
Cannazza validates the idea that the team's studies on animals so far have demonstrated THCP as substantially more psychoactive than THC. That said, we have no idea ear what this means for human interaction as all the studies up to now have been performed using animals. We are also unclear as to whether varying strains of Cannabis contain different levels of THCP.
"No biological test was performed on CBDP," explains Cannazza. "Its activity is completely unknown. Indeed, CBD itself has poor affinity for CB receptors and its mechanism of action is still not completely clear. We cannot state that CBDP is more or less potent than CBD since it seems not to act through CB receptors. Its biological activity is all to be evaluated."
Cannabis: More to be Revealed
This fantastic work highlights the myriad of information that is still to be found out about the properties of Cannabis.
Advancements in technology and mass spectrometry, combined with the global relaxation of cannabis laws, are now allowing scientists to do the work they wanted to do for many years.