Most parts of the world have come around to the idea that weed isn’t the terrifying ‘gateway drug’ that our parents thought it was.
It only takes one drag of a marijuana cigarette and the next thing you know, you’ve passed out in a crack den, addicted to heroin. OK Boomer, we know better now.
Many South Africans are even cultivating their own stash at home.
At the same time, scientists are dedicating a lot of time and effort to studying marijuana and its health benefits, and a recent discovery could be a breakthrough in the field.
A newly discovered cannabis compound has been shown to potentially be 30 times more potent than THC – the most studied psychoactive compound in marijuana, reports CNN.
Whether the new cannabinoid, named tetrahydrocannabiphorol, or THCP, will deliver 30 times the high of THC — or any high at all — is unclear.
Italian scientists also discovered a second previously unknown compound they named CBDP. It appears to be a cousin of CBD, the medicinal compound known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticonvulsant activity.
The compounds were discovered in a medical cannabis variety called FM2. Scientists isolated the compound when they discovered its advanced ability to bind to human cannabinoid receptors.
The endocannabinoid system’s job is to keep our body in homeostasis, or equilibrium, and it regulates everything from sleep to appetite to inflammation to pain and more. When a person smokes marijuana, THC overwhelms the endocannabinoid system, latching on to cannabinoid receptors and interfering with their ability to communicate between neurons.
When this happens, you get high, hungry, and sleepy depending on what you’re smoking or ingesting.
THCP bound strongly to both receptors — 33 times more than THC does, and 63 times more than another compound called THCV. The finding led the authors to wonder if THCP might explain why some particularly potent cannabis varieties have a stronger effect than can be explained by the presence of THC alone.
Furthermore, most cannabis compounds, including THC, have an alkyl side chain (the driving force behind the effect that THC has on humans) that is only five atoms long. THCP has a seven-atom chain, making it significantly more potent.
The scientists who uncovered the new cannabinoid reckon that it could have some great health benefits.
The findings could enable the production of cannabis extracts for targeted physical effects; more testing with the study’s methods could further the discovery and identification of new compounds, the authors said.
“There are other minor cannabinoids and traces in the plant that can be hard to study, but by isolation we can continue to assess the effects they might offer.”
“Historically, many of our medicines have been derived by or inspired by natural products. By having new compounds that bind with very high affinity, that will give scientists a new probe into biological sciences.”
There is still much work to be done before scientists full understand THCP, but perhaps this explains why some weed can flatten you after just a few tokes.
That, or you’re a novice.
If you find yourself with a strain that contains THCP, you could need more than a bag of Doritos to deal with it.
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