The discovery of two new compounds shows we’re just scratching the surface of the cannabis plant’s powers…
The cannabis plant is powerful.
It manufactures a special class of compounds called cannabinoids – producing the most familiar cannabinoid molecules, THC and CBD, in abundance.
And we’re learning that the cannabis plant is a cannabinoid manufacturing machine.
Just how many it produces is up for debate, but some researchers estimate that the plant produces over 100 different cannabinoid compounds.
In fact, just recently, researchers discovered two new compounds to add to the list.
These newbies are cousins of THC and CBD.
But as I’ve learned, add a carbon atom here or an oxygen atom there, and you change the way the molecule interacts with the human body dramatically.
Now, not much is known about the properties of most of these compounds. Even less is known about how they work in combination.
However, each of these compounds – and the possible combinations – represent phenomenal opportunities for medical researchers.
Two Promising New Compounds
The two new compounds are tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) and cannabidiphorol (CBDP).
The properties of these compounds are still unknown, but researchers suspect THCP might prove to be 30 times as powerful as THC. That doesn’t mean it gets you 30 times as high – they have not determined its psychoactive properties.
But its other effects on the body are like THC, and that opens the door to many therapeutic effects.
The ever-growing list of cannabinoids provides researchers an astoundingly large number of research paths.
Learning how these compounds benefit the human body is one thing.
Figuring out how to maximize those benefits is an entirely different matter.
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Challenges arise because of the very low concentrations of most of these cannabinoids within the cannabis plant. Both CBD and THC get produced in large quantities, but most other cannabinoids get produced in trace amounts.
Should THCP, CBDP, CBG or any of the other trace cannabinoids prove effective in larger doses, profit-seeking companies will need to work on how to get large doses into products.
Growing strains of cannabis with higher doses of trace cannabinoids is one method. But I’m skeptical that botanists can develop strains producing large enough quantities to extract economically.
The unique cannabinoid profiles of these new strains could prove more beneficial for certain conditions, but it’s not nearly as reliable – or marketable – as producing very pure isolated formulations of a particular cannabinoid.
That’s where biosynthesis enters the stage.
The Powerful Potential of Biosynthesis
Biosynthesis utilizes microbes such as yeast to turn their metabolism into tiny cannabinoid factories.
Once the genome of, say, brewer’s yeast has been altered to manufacture CBG instead of alcohol, these trace cannabinoids can be manufactured very cheaply in vast quantities.
In my view, looking 10 years down the road, most cannabinoids will be sourced through biosynthesis.
And that includes THC and CBD.
It’s the only way to produce trace cannabinoids economically, and it’s the cheapest way to produce THC and CBD isolates essential for high-quality cannabis-infused edibles.
Once again, unlocking the full power of the cannabis plant opens the door to many more therapeutic solutions.
It’s a game-changer that’s going to disrupt big pharma.
Don Yocham, CFA
Executive Director, National Institute for Cannabis Investors
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January 22 2020