Scientists have discovered two more powerful cannabinoids in pot

The latest findings by Italian researchers underscore how much there is to unlock about the medical potential of cannabis

male scientist checks medical cannabis field

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The weed world has been buzzing ever since Italian researchers discovered two new cannabinoids that could be 33 times more potent than regular THC.

The findings were published in Scientific Reports late last month. The report describes the discovery of THCP, or tetrahydrocannabiphorol, in a strain of cannabis known as FM2. Researchers also found a powerful CBD-like compound, which they are calling CBDP, or cannabidiphorol.

It’s the second such discovery for the researchers at the facility. Earlier in 2019, the scientists discovered THCB, or tetrahydrocannabivarin, a strain showing promise in the treatment of Type-2 diabetes. The researchers are also responsible for the discovery of CBDB, or cannabidibutol.

The discoveries have reignited debate on how much there’s still to learn about the cannabis plant, as well as the importance of continued research.

First, a crash-course in the science behind the new discoveries.

Cannabinoids like THC usually have a chain of carbon rings. To activate the body’s cannabinoid receptors, a compound needs at least three carbon rings. THC typically has five. A compound with eight carbon rings would be “the absolute perfect fit” for the body’s cannabinoid receptors. The THCP discovered by Italian researchers has seven carbon rings. According to the researchers, “The biological results [for THCP] indicated an affinity for the CB1 receptor more than 30-fold higher.”

There are synthetic cannabinoids that have been created with more than five carbon rings. But “a phytocannabinoid with a linear alkyl side chain containing more than five carbon atoms has never been reported as naturally occurring,” say the researchers.

When researchers gave the compound to lab rats, they found that it acted similar to THC. The rats got slower and their reactions to pain diminished. The rats were stoned but with about half as much THCP as they would need if they were injected with just THC.

The study’s authors note that the discovery could blow open the doors for cannabis breeders. And break the dichotomy between THC-rich strains and CBD-rich strains. They say that “It would not be surprising to see in the near future cannabis varieties rich in other minor phytocannabinoids.”

With all that said, how THCP affects humans is still an open question. Researchers point out that the amount of THCP discovered was “extremely low and probably does not reach the effective dose to produce a pharmacological effect.”

But the researchers added that, “It should not be ruled out though that the concentration of THCP might be higher in other cannabis varieties.”

The discovery really illustrates that the more we learn about cannabis, the more we’re reminded of how much there is left to unlock about the potential powers of the plant.

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