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The Discovery of Two New Cannabinoids

April 2, 2021 in General News

New Study Reveals Two New Cannabinoids

In late 2019, a team of Italian researchers, led by Professor Giuseppe
Cannazza of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, announced the
discovery of two new cannabinoids; THCP and CBDP. In this article I will
explain the specifics of this exciting yet unexpected discovery and the
opinions of two notable cannabinoid researchers on the study design
and its findings.


The original focus of their project was to investigate an industrial hemp
strain known as FM2. During their study, they stumbled upon two new
cannabinoids, which they named THCP and CBDP. The team had also
discovered two other cannabinoids, THCB and CBDB, the previous year.
The hemp study was funded by the UNIHEMP project, sponsored by the
European Regional Development Fund. Obtaining financing for cannabis
research is not unusual in Europe, unlike in the US where getting funding
is very difficult due to the federal illegal status of the plant.
The Study

The findings of the study, A Novel Phytocannabinoid Isolated from
Cannabis Sativa L. with an In Vivo Cannabimimetric Activity Higher than
Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannibiphorol, was published in Nature on December
30, 2019.

Why This Discovery Is So Important


The discovery of THCP may explain why some strains that have low
levels of THC are very potent, both in their psychotropic effects and
their therapeutic benefits.

The chemical composition of THC contains a 5 carbon atoms side chain.
THCP contains a 7 carbon atoms side chain which has never before been
seen in a naturally occurring cannabinoid. The existence of the two extra
side chains allows THCP to bind more effectively to CB1 and CB2
receptors to produce the following effects:

THCP was 33 times more active than THC on the CB1 receptor
THCP was 5-10 times more active than THC on the CB2 receptor
THCP is more lipophilic (making it easier to dissolve in or combine
with fats)

Cannabimimetic Properties


The results of the study indicate that the percentages of THCP were
lower than those of THC within the plant, both in vitro and in vivo. The
two new compounds also appear to have cannabimimetic properties.
They engage with CB1 receptor activation which far exceeds the
activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors of THC in its decarboxylated form.
As a result of the stronger engagement by THCP of the CB1 receptors in
the brain, the consumer may end up with excessively potent and
intoxicating effects.

The Italian team used mouse models which demonstrated that the
binding potential of THCP on CB1 receptors caused similar behavioral
and physiological effects as THC at about half the dose. The strong
binding helps to explain why certain chemovars with THCP are more
effective at providing strong therapeutic relief than those with THC
alone.
Opinions of Two Cannabinoids Researchers
Cannabinoids researcher, Dr. Cecilia J. Hibbard, associate dean for
research at the Medical College of Wisconsin, weighed in on the study
design. While she thought that the study was well constructed, she
thought there were two significant omissions:

The same potency of THCP and THC should have been compared in
vivo


The researchers should have investigated if THCP has a greater
efficacy to activate the CB1 receptor than THC which is low and
relatively safe. If THCP has a high activation rate, that suggests that
strains containing large amounts of THCP may be more dangerous to
use; with more adverse side effects and more addictive.

Dr. Samuel Banister, Team Leader of The Lambert Initiative of
Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney, believed that the
study was well designed and executed. However, he disagreed with the
research team’s findings. He agrees that it is possible that THCP may be
responsible for the variation of psychotropic effects among different
cannabis cultivars. However, the differences in potency between THC

and THCP at the cannabinoid receptors is quite small while the
differences in the quantity of these two cannabinoids in cannabis is very
large. The same is the case for CBD and CBDP, although in order to reach
many of its pharmacological effects, higher doses of CBD are required.
That is why he believes that trace cannabinoids like THCP or CBDP do not
contribute appreciably to the psychoactivity in different cannabis strains.

How Much THCP Is Needed?
The logical next questions to ask are:

How much THCP is required to provide psychoactive effects and
therapeutic benefits?

Which cannabis strains, if any, contain a substantial amount of the
cannabinoid?


The study research team cannot currently answer those questions. Since
trace levels of THCP and CBDP were discovered in the FM2 military
strain, it is not unreasonable to conclude that it is possible that other
varieties of cannabis strains may contain larger percentages. Since
researchers were not even aware of the existence of the two
cannabinoids, clearly their presence in any cannabis strains would not be
known.


Furthermore, even if there are no naturally occurring strains with high
levels of THCP, it is quite possible that cannabis varieties with the newly
discovered cannabinoid may be genetically engineered in the future.

Next Steps for THCP
Dr. Cannazza and his team are proposing that THCP should be elevated
from a “minor cannabinoid” to a “main cannabinoid.” By doing so, its
potential pharmaceutical and therapeutic benefits will be much more
thoroughly investigated and evaluated. This new discovery suggests that
laboratories may soon need to include THCP in their testing panel.

What About CBDP?


The research team also discovered CBDP but they focused most of their
attention on the effects of THCP. The chemical composition of CBDP is
similar to that of THCP with its seven carbon atoms side chain.
However, Dr. Cannazza and his team believe that the two additional

side chains would have no impact on its ability to bind more effectively
to cannabis receptors. The expectation is that CBDP is more potent than
CBD and that future research may corroborate this theory by showing
that it has stronger antioxidant, anti-seizure and anti-inflammatory
properties.

Sources:
hightimes.com, What We Know So Far About The Newly Discovered
Cannabinoids THCP and CBDP, Dario Sabaghi, Feb. 3, 2020
cannabisdispensarymag.com, New Discovered Natural Cannabinoid
THCP Offers Greater Potency Than THC, Andrea Sparr-Jaswa, Jan. 10,
2020

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