This mystic plant is being studied very intensively in the past few years. Although, in the US, it has been hard to get permission to experiment on a deeper level with cannabis because of its legal sate. Another obstacle for researchers is that most know strains of cannabis/hemp are THC or CBD dominant making the isolation and study of minor compounds arduous.
Consequently, this discovery has been made by a team of Italian scientists. The research was part of a project called UNIHEMP which focuses on the use of industrial hemp biomass for energy and new biochemicals production. They found two new molecules the first one is called Tetrahydrocannabiphorol or THCP for short and the second Cannabidiphorol or CBDP for short. It sounds very similar to Tetrahydro cannabinoid (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) because they are comparable in structures and functions.
The main distinction of the newly found CBDP and THCP is their elongated molecule structures with seven links. Regular THC and CBD have only 5. The molecule length of THCP specifically, could be a game-changer because these two extra molecules make THCP more potent, and somehow more compatible with our human cannabinoid receptors. The CBDP compatibility hasn't been tested as much since CBD itself hasn't been proven to interact a lot with our receptors. Scientifics doubt that the two extra molecules, found in CBDP's structure, would change that.
The tests made at the Italian labs showed that THCP is 33 times more active with our CB1 receptors, and 5-10 times more active with our CB2 receptors, than THC. They also tested the THCP psycho-active effect on mice. After giving THCP to the animals, the researchers were able to observe clear evidence that they were under the influence of the psychoactive drug. Their movements were slowed, their temperature decreased and their reaction to painful stimuli diminished. To reach this state the mice were given low doses of THCP, only half as much the quantity required of THC to cause the same effects.
These results show that the psychoactive side effect associated with THC could partly be linked to the presence of the THCP molecule, or even to other cannabinoids that haven't been discovered yet.
Dr. Cinzia Citti the lead researcher on this project explained: "This means that these compounds have a higher affinity for the receptors in the human body. In cannabis varieties where THC is present in very low concentrations, then we can think that the presence of another more active cannabinoid can explain those effects." Meaning that the discovery of these compounds could also explain why cannabis can provoke very contrasting effects/experiences from one consumer to another.
Considering the cannabis plant contains around 400 compounds, including 150 cannabinoids, more researches and tests are required before we fully understand all of its properties. To keep discovering more about all of these 400 compounds scientists are expressing the need to cultivate cannabis without CBD or THC dominance.
To conclude Citti said: "I firmly believe both of these compounds could have medical applications, but we are still very far from that reality. Further investigation is needed to understand not only the benefits but also the risks for humans in taking these cannabinoids as pharmacological treatment. Only future pharmacokinetics studies will disclose such information."