Cannabis is the botanical gift that keeps on giving. As research into cannabis ramps up, the chemical complexity and potential of the plant are becoming ever more apparent.
THCP: What happens when you enhance THC’s binding ability?
In the newly discovered THCP molecule, the researchers found that a critical side chain in the molecule’s structure is elongated, with seven links. In comparison, regular THC has five links. To provide further context, naturally occurring cannabinoids with more than five links in this side chain have not yet been detected in cannabis.
The length of this side chain has been shown to play a vital role in the effects THC exerts over the body’s CB1 receptors (brush up on your knowledge of the body’s endocannabinoid system here). A minimum of three links is necessary to bind THC to the receptor, with binding affinity peaking at eight links before it starts to decrease in activity again.
What are the implications of this elongated side chain? As it turns out, THCP’s elongated side chain appears to have an even stronger affinity for the CB1 receptor than regular THC, which suggests it can work its magic more potently.
When the researchers checked the binding affinity of THCP against human CB1 and CB2 receptors, they found that THCP was 33 times more active than regular THC on the CB1 receptor, and 5-10 times more active than regular THC on the CB2 receptor.
While we’ve always thought the plant’s psychotropic effects are primarily due to THC, they may, in fact, be partly attributable to THCP or other extremely potent cannabinoids that haven’t yet been profiled. Deepening our knowledge of the pharmacological effects of THCP may help us better evaluate the effects of cannabis extracts on people.