THCp Vs. THCo: What are the big differences?
, by Peter Corstjens, 6 min reading time
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, by Peter Corstjens, 6 min reading time
The cannabinoid marketplace is filled with so many acronyms; it almost takes a degree in chemistry to know what it all means and this paper will hopefully demonstrate the difference between THCo-acetate (THCO ) and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP). Most people are familiar with THC, but we have found the picture is not so clear with the cannabis plant in that it makes many varieties of THC. Many of these varieties and homologs have lots of claims and with scientific studies and peoples personal experiences we can break through the myths and determine the true value of THCP and THCO.
It can be difficult to keep up with names like THCP, THCO, HHC, THCV, THCB or THCH, just to name a few, most of them are named by common chemical naming conventions. The a slight modification to the structure by addition of an acetate you can have THCPO acetate or HHCO acetate and while confusing the chemical structure showing each in figure 1, will readily demonstrate the difference between THC, THCP and THCO. THCP in its chemical structure has 2 more carbons added on to the “tail” (shown in red) when compared to THC, which causes different effects by this natural alteration. Conversely THCO is a pro-drug version of THC, which is a very common process when developing pharmaceuticals. As can be seen in figure 1, acetate is added to THC and no change to the structure is done.
THCP or also known as Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabiphorol, is the most powerful phytocannabinoid yet to be discovered in cannabis. Phytocannabinoid means that the cannabinoid is found naturally in Cannabis sativa, only being discovered in the last few years. Since this discovery subsequent studies have found THCP to occur in small quantities in 13 of 14 strains in one study although in smaller quantities. As shown in figure 1 and figure 2, the main difference between THCP and THC is the length of the carbon tail, which is shown by the squiggly line to the right of the structure. So the only difference between THC and THCP is two carbons added on to the tail. Although a slight chemical difference, its interactions at our endocannabinoid receptors are of great interest. This longer tail allows it to bind to the cb1 receptor much stronger than other cannabinoids. Since the addition is to this tail, all forms of THC can be made into THCP, including D8 THC, D9 THC, D10 THC and HHC just to name a few.
In examining evidence empirically and experimentally about THCP, it has been shown to be substantially stronger than its shorter tailed homolog THC. There may be many claims exaggerating this strength. In an experimental study Delta 9 THC-P was estimated to bind at the endocannabinoid receptor cb1 approximately 33 times stronger than Delta 9 THC. This does not mean that THCP is 33 times the strength of THC as some claim it to be. Empirically the results are definitely show THCP to significantly stronger than THC but in certain ways. For instance in most cases, THCP was diluted typically to less than 20% of the mixture. Most users describe it as being stronger than D9 THC at this diluted amount, most importantly is the reported length of duration. Many users feel the effects for 12-24 hours, which is substantially longer than THC. In essence THCP is significantly stronger than THC, especially the duration. It has not been reported to be psychedelic nor is it 33 times stronger that THC but with the small percentage needed and duration truly makes it the king of the cannabinoids.
THCO acetate is what is called a prodrug version of THC; prodrug is a common term in pharmaceuticals and is defined as the use of a biologically inactive compound that can be metabolized by the body producing a drug. Historically the ingredient which would become aspirin was developed from a compound found naturally in tree bark. This ingredient was salicin which was easily made into salicylic acid, which worked as a great anti-inflammatory but was found to be highly irritating to the stomach. The solution was acetylsalicyclic acid a prodrug version of salicylic acid which became known as aspirin. The problem with THC is that in its natural form it is not easily absorbed by our bodies. Cannabinoids are lipophilic (fat-loving) which prevents easy absorption into our water based body; the amount of absorption is commonly referred to as bioavailability. Using the process used for aspirin, the adding of an acetyl group or acetate to THC, dramatically increased its bioavailability. The increased bioavailability is due to enzymes within our body which are able to metabolize the acetate off but also causing a delay in effects of anywhere from 15-30 minutes when vaped.
The acetylation of any cannabinoid will turn it into a prodrug version of that cannabinoid. So for instance THCP can be made into THCP-O acetate by the addition of acetate to THCP. As can be seen in figure one, the acetate is added to the same position replacing the OH on the lower right cyclohexane ring. Common acetate versions available in the marketplace include, THCO, CBNO, HHCO and THCP-O. The main difference being any cannabinoid can be made into a prodrug version while THCP refers to a very specific chemical compound. Due to the acetate in THCO, empirically evidence has substantiated that THCO is often stronger feeling than the THC version. It has never been reported as being psychedelic although often claimed as so. The effects of THCO often take 15-30 minutes after vaping for the effects to be felt. Once this initial period is over most people do report THCO to feel stronger than the THC version and seems to last longer in duration that the regular version.
THCP is truly the king of cannabinoids and THCO is a very useful form of THC, both mean totally different things. THCP is a term referring to a specific chemical structure with a 7 carbon chain tail while THCO is referring to the addition of acetate to the chemical structure of THC but can be done to just about any cannabinoid including THCP. While there are many lofty claims of the extreme effects of these two substances, it can be said without a doubt both are stronger than THC. Empirically duration seems to be the biggest noticeable difference. THCP has been noted by users as sometimes lasting up to 24 hours, while THCO is sometimes up to 3 hours. Now as you are trying to decide on your next cannabinoid purchase, hopefully you will better understand what THCP or THCO actually means.