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THCP is a naturally occurring phytocannabinoid found in cannabis and an analog of THC, the compound responsible for most cannabis psychoactivity. Discovered only in late 2019 by a team of Italian researchers, THCP is one of 120 (or more) cannabinoids found to date in the cannabis plant, with many more potentially awaiting discovery.
However, THCP is causing a particular stir in the cannabis community. The researchers found evidence suggesting that THCP may have a more pronounced impact on a cannabis strains’ psychoactivity than THC itself. This article dives into the limited information we have on this newly discovered cannabinoid.
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What Is THCP?
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabiphoral, or THCP, is a cannabinoid related closely to THC and found in very low concentrations in the cannabis plant.
According to the researchers who discovered it, THCP interacts with the endocannabinoid system similarly to THC but with a far greater affinity for cannabinoid receptors. The research found that THCP binds to CB1 receptors up to 33 times more often than traditional THC, which means THCP is potentially up to 33x as potent as THC.
THCP is unique because of its longer alkyl side chains: the string of carbon atoms is much longer than traditional THC (seven carbons vs. five carbons). This makes the cannabinoid attach more securely to receptors throughout the body. Thus, it takes a much smaller amount of THCP to impact different functions governed by the endocannabinoid system (ECS) than for THC to have the same effect.
Potential Uses and Benefits
THCP is still new to the world of cannabis, and no studies currently exist outside of the observations made by the original team that discovered the cannabinoid. Despite this, the evidence and potential medical applications are promising.
THCP may provide more substantial pain relief to patients who require high levels of THC for their care, such as those who currently use Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) to fight cancer. Higher levels of THCP may also produce sedative effects similar to high doses of THC and are potentially capable of soothing insomnia or relieving intractable pain.
However, there is no solid evidence on how exactly THCP affects humans or which strains might contain higher levels of the cannabinoid. Also, although many have described THCP to have a more potent or “pronounced” effect than THC, there is no definitive evidence that the cannabinoid is more potent when consumed.
Potential Risks and Side Effects
Without any research available, patients should employ a healthy amount of caution when looking into THCP as a potential medicine until more information becomes available.
THCP is 33 times capable of binding to CB1 receptors as THC, which means more psychoactivity is at risk with even smaller doses. One could consume too much THCP and experience unwanted side effects like dry mouth, dizziness, or lethargy.
It’s also worth remembering that THCP is usually only present in small concentrations in cannabis. Hence, it is difficult to say what impact the cannabinoid plays in the overall effect of cannabis. It is theorized that THCP could be one reason why some cannabis varietals are so much more potent than others, despite having a similar or lower concentration of THC. However, there is no definite proof of this concept.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does THCP get you high?
While we lack any definitive information about how THCP works in the human body, the existing research observes that the cannabinoid has a 33x stronger affinity for CB1 receptors than THC. THCP can likely get users much higher than THC with a smaller amount because these receptors are primarily located in the brain. However, more research is needed.
Is THCP safe?
We’re not sure yet if THCP is safe for human use. The research is still very early, so individuals should use caution when considering THCP as part of their medical marijuana tool kit.
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