What is Tetrahydrocannabiphorol? (THCP)
The cannabis Sativa plant produces over 400 compounds, and only around 60 termed cannabinoids. The most well-known cannabinoids are Cannabidiol (CBD), which is a non-psychoactive ingredient from the cannabis compounds, and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis plants. Cannabinoids are known to interact with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating a range of functions including mood, sleep, appetite, and memory.
An article published in 2020 by HealthMJ mentioned the discovery of two new minor cannabinoids similar to CBD and THC: THCP and CBDP. THCP or Tetrahydrocannabiphorol is a phytocannabinoid similar to THC present in varieties of the cannabis Sativa plant but for the first time in 2019, was isolated as a natural product in little amounts of the cannabis plant. THCP is also said to be more active in CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system.
Chemical structure diagram of THCP
As Cannabis is a complex plant with 426 chemical entities including cannabinoids such as CBD. Seeing the chemical structures of other cannabinoids can help scientists differentiate between closely related cannabinoids like THC and THCP.
Is THCP different from CBD?
Yes. You can understand the difference between cannabinoids such as THC and CBD by looking at their cannabinoid profile. Cannabinoid profiling helps to prove to cannabis users what is inside their products, and how each cannabinoid differs from the other.
Although both THCP and CBD are cannabinoids that bind to the CB1 receptor, THCP and CBD are different. THCP has the same structure as THC which is a psychoactive compound, while CBDP is structurally similar to CBD which is non-psychoactive and will not cause you to feel high. THC is the cannabis compound responsible for the psychoactive effect that makes you feel high. The chemical structures of THC and THCP are said to be almost similar.
Naturally-occurring cannabinoid molecules have alkyl side chains, which are strings of carbon atoms. These alkyl side chains indicate how a cannabinoid interacts with the endocannabinoid system and how it affects a cannabinoid's biological activity, specifically the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). THC has five three carbon atoms in an alkyl side chain. This is partly the reason for the “high” or psychoactive effect of consuming THC. THCP on the other hand has seven carbon atoms in its alkyl side chain, proving that it’s two times more effective and more potent than THC. However, when the Italian team tested its naturally-sourced THCP on the human CB1 receptor, they found that it’s 33 times more effective at binding with CB1 receptors. This means that the length of the alkyl side chain influences the biological activity of this cannabinoid.
How and when was THCP discovered?
THCP was first shown to the world in December 2019. THCP was discovered by an Italian research team. They used advanced mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography technology on a non-synthetic cannabis sample which allowed the researchers to analyze the plant matter precisely. They discovered THCP during the process.
According to the Scientific Reports Journal, in vitro and in vivo tests on the activity of mice were conducted using THCP. This is to validate the binding power of this phytocannabinoid to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. They found that THCP is indeed more potent than THC. However, the potency in vivo is not as high as those achieved in vitro.
What can THCP do for you and your body?
Through scientific studies, the effects of THCP on the human CB1 receptor were found by an Italian research team that discovered THCP's physiological effects including:
- Pain relief
These effects are identical to the effects of THC but stronger. The pain relief effects of THCP can be more strong. The scientists also found that it can be a more potent sleep aid for people suffering from insomnia.
THCP is relatively a newfound compound and more research is needed to know its side effects. However, since THCP is almost similar to THC, we can assume that their side effects are similar. Also, since it’s said to bind more effectively, the side effects of THC may be more pronounced.
Common side effects of THC include:
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- Temporary memory loss
Is THCP legal?
No. THCP is not legal in the UK. As THCP is a recently discovered phytocannabinoid, its manufacture is still largely unregulated. There are also currently no short or long-term data about its cannabinoid effects on users. While we know that THCP binds to the CB1 receptors, research on the effects it may have on the human body is not known. THCP’s extreme potency and psychotropic effects could also pose risks for people.
In the UK, cannabis in marijuana form is illegal to possess, grow, distribute, or sell. It is considered a class B drug and people caught will get up to 14 years in prison for unlicensed distribution. As this is the case, THCP products may not be available in the UK for some time.
Are there any THCP products on the market in the UK?
There are currently no THCP products available in the UK. If you want to use alternative products that provide therapeutic benefits, CBD is a great option. It’s one of the cannabis extracts that is touted as a natural wonder that can help treat symptoms of a wide range of health issues. CBD products usually contain legal amounts of THC (0.3%).
CBD helps with anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia, among others. It’s also not psychoactive and will not cause you to feel high. CBD is well-tolerated but CBD can cause side effects such as dry mouth, diarrhoea, and fatigue when taken the wrong way. Additionally, much more research has been done on CBD and its benefits and safety compared to THCP. CBD is legal in the UK, and tested products are sold in the UK market and online.
The use and understanding of cannabinoids from the cannabis plant are constantly shifting, and as newfound compounds are being discovered, it can be very exciting. THCP shares many similarities with the more known compound present in cannabis, THC. THCP products may hold similar therapeutic benefits with CBD products and products containing THC, along with other properties we may have not heard of. However, as long there’s no regulatory framework of THCP and scientific studies are limited, its full benefits and safety are still questionable.