The new year has started with a bang, especially for those that believe in reaping the benefits offered by cannabis.
On 30th December, last year, a group of Italian researchers published a study in the Scientific Reports journal that revealed the discovery of two new cannabinoids viz. THCP and CBDP.
Let us discuss in detail what these two compounds bring to the table and what it means for the future of cannabis in pharmaceutical terms.
The Discovery Of THCP & CBDP
Italian researches discovered these two cannabinoids using high-resolution mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography.
For years it was believed that THC was the only cannabinoid out of hundreds of compounds that produced the high.
But, this study has challenged this assumption, claiming that the newly discovered THCP seems to offer the same effects of THC.
Moreover, the researchers then used THCP on mice to discover that it was more potent than THC at lower doses (30 times more potent).
THCP showed a higher binding affinity for the CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. Not only that, but the cannabimimetic activity was also greater than that of THC.
According to the researchers of the study, it could mean that THCP is also psychoactive (more so than THC) since the psychoactive behavior of cannabinoids is related to its affinity with the CB1 receptors.
However, it still not confirmed as to what effect of the THC does THCP offers at a higher potency, it could be that it could get you 30 times more stoned or maybe the pharmaceutical effects of this compound are better.
We would need to wait for more studies and experiments to be carried out on the said cannabinoids to know for sure its effects on humans.
Another hypothesis that the discovery of THCP has led researchers to believe is that maybe the presence of THCP is the reason why some cannabis strains are stronger than others.
Cannabidiphorol (CBDP) is the second compound discovered by Italian researchers. This cannabinoid is similar to CBD.
However, since the effect of CBDP has not been observed on humans, it is too early to say whether CBDP will provide the same therapeutic effects (e.g. pain relief) as does CBD.
Possible Applications Of The New Findings
At this stage, it is still too early to predict anything. The discovery of these two compounds has opened up doors for further investigation into the cannabis plant.
Although THCP and CBDP are, more or less, similar to THC and CBD, researchers still do not know their exact effects on the human body.
Moreover, the Italian researchers discovered these two cannabinoids in FM2, a type of cannabis that has lower THC concentration.
It is possible that these compounds might be in higher concentration in other varieties of cannabis, but that would require further investigation.
And even if that is not the case, breeding cannabis to produce strains containing THCP and CBDP in higher concentrations wouldn’t be difficult.
How Many Cannabinoids Are Identified?
Researchers have been able to discover nearly 150 cannabinoids in cannabis.
However, only three (THC, CBD, and CBN) among these have been studied so far. The reason why so few of these compounds have been studied is partly legal and partly scientific.
Due to the legal constraints of the federal government on the cannabis plant, researching on it has been a difficult job, to say the least.
The other reason why only these three cannabinoids have been studied is that most of the other cannabinoids are found in traces. This makes it difficult to isolate them to study their behavior and properties.
The good news is that all of this is changing. People are getting more and more vocal about the therapeutic effects of CBD and cannabis which is forcing the governments to amend their laws regarding the plant.
And as far as the science goes, researchers have started to use high-end mass spectrometry along with novel scientific procedures to detect and study these cannabinoids.
A good example of these advancements is the discovery of THCP and CBDP made by the Italian researchers.
What Are The Future Implications Of The Study?
This study clearly illustrates how little we know about the cannabis plant, it’s constituents, properties, effects, and possible pharmaceutical applications.
Years of the marijuana ban has restrained researchers from studying this incredible herb. The result of these restrictions has kept humanity from the secrets hidden inside cannabis.
Now that governments have started to accept the possible pharmaceutical benefits of the Sativa plant and the ban on marijuana is being lifted, researchers are trying their best to study this plant and we are witnessing frequent discoveries about this complex herb.
The researchers of the study believe the next step would be to inspect various cannabis strains to find out the precise concentrations of these compounds. This would lead us to determine the exact effects of these cannabinoids.
However, such a project would take a great deal of time and effort as several pharmacological tests would need to be conducted so that the benefits, as well as the associated risks, can be determined.
It is entirely possible, that these researches might lead us to use these cannabinoids as effective pharmaceutical drugs to cure ailments such as arthritis, inflammation, HIV, cancer, etc.
But all that needs to wait, for there is still a long way to go before we study all these different compounds present in cannabis and their effects.