Italian scientists claim to have discovered a cannabis compound that could be up to 33 times more potent than THC.
The new compound is called THCP, short for tetrahydrocannabiphorol, and the researchers believe it may explain why some marijuana strains have a stronger effect than the THC content would suggest.
The scientists analyzed THCP’s ability to bind human cannabis receptors in the endocannabinoid system. This system regulates everything from sleep and appetite to pain and inflammation.
THC is able to overwhelm it by bonding with the receptors and affecting their ability to pass on communications between neurons. The scientists found that THCP forms a bond with the receptors that is 33 times stronger than THC and 63 times more than another cannabinoid compound, THCV.
That means the compound has a higher affinity for the body’s receptors, according to the authors of the research, which could make it a lot more potent. THCP is made up of a chain of five atoms, but THCP has seven atoms in its chain.
The researchers also reported the discovery of a previously unknown compound that bears similarities to CBD. They named it CBDP.
The compounds were identified and isolated by analyzing an Italian medical cannabis strain known as FM2. They believe that THCP could offer health benefits.
“In the cannabinoid tetrad pharmacological test, 9-THCP induced hypomotility, analgesia, catalepsy and decreased rectal temperature indicating a THC-like cannabimimetic activity,” wrote the researchers.
In plain English, that means they fed mice THCP and found that it slowed their movements, reduced their pain, and put them in a trance-like state.
Scientists are getting better at identifying and isolating different compounds within the cannabis plant as they strive to take advantage of its medicinal benefits. The research authors said they would continue to isolate and study other minor cannabinoids and traces in the plant in future.
The next step will be to conduct further tests on THCP. If their initial assumption proves to be correct, they will work on producing extracts that offer patients targeted pain relief.
It is the sort of discovery that could turn the cannabis industry on its head, but the researchers need to run a number of tests to work out if the compound they have discovered does indeed create heightened effects.
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