THC or Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol is at the forefront of what is a collection of more than 100 compounds in the Cannabis plant. This psychoactive compound is the source of the highs marijuana is used for, both medicinally and recreationally. Up until now, it was this very cannabis compound known for its potency.

There was a kerfuffle in December 2019 when a group of Italian scientists made an intriguing discovery in their lab study. Published in the 9th volume of Nature, Scientific Reports, the article was a source of critical information.

It indicated the presence of a compound called Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabiphorol or THCP, isolated from the Cannabis sativa plant species. The interesting part is its 30 times higher potency compared to THC.

This spectrometric approach to Cannabis compounds has been monumental. It aided the identification and subsequent study of these compounds and their chemistry. It may be of critical use in future research that delves into a better and more in-depth understanding of the plant and its effectiveness.

The Discovery

Studying the FM2 strain of Cannabis sativa, the researchers used mass spectrometry and metabolomics to observe the compounds. Isolating THCP, the first test conducted was its ability to react and bind to the receptors found in our endocannabinoid systems.

Lab testing showed THCP to bind 33 percent more than THC. Moreover, it was whopping 63 times more likely to bind receptors compared to THC. In addition to THCP and its effects, the study also discovered CBDP – the cousin of CBD (cannabidiol).

THCP’s increased affinity for endocannabinoid receptors may help explain why some strains of cannabis are more potent. It is specifically more illustrative of varieties that give strong highs despite low THC quantities.

It’s not exactly clear whether THCP itself is psychoactive and gets people high. There is room for further research and an isolated study of the compound as the researchers hinted at possible health benefits.


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