There are over 100 known cannabinoids that naturally occur within the cannabis plant, and researchers are still discovering new minor cannabinoids. THC-P is a recent discovery, and many people find its potency intriguing.
Things aren’t always what they seem, and THC-P products may be too potent to be safe. Here’s what you should know before using them.
What is THC-P?
Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THC-P) is a minor cannabinoid that naturally occurs in cannabis plants. THC-P is sometimes referred to as delta-9 THC-P or THC-heptyl. Its natural presence in the average cannabis plant is so small that its effects aren’t ordinarily detectable. Researchers at an Italian cannabis lab discovered this minor cannabinoid in 2019.
Intrigued by their discovery, the Italian researchers tested the cannabinoid to learn more about its potential benefits and effects. They discovered that THC-P may be stronger than normal delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), requiring far less to produce comparable effects.*
THC-P is currently on the market in many forms. It’s added to gummies, edibles, tinctures, and vape products.
How is THC-P made?
Although THC-P is a naturally occurring cannabinoid, the plant produces so little THC-P that it would be highly impractical to harvest it from cannabis. It would take many cannabis plants to produce a significant dose of THC-P, which would be an ineffective use of resources.*
Researchers learned to create THC-P by manipulating high CBD hemp plant extract in a laboratory. The shape of cannabinoid molecules can be changed using chemicals or solvents. CBD can be manipulated into the shape of THC-P, which turns it into a completely different cannabinoid.*
This process allows companies to produce THC-P while skirting the issue of legality. Since hemp is legal to grow and produce, and any cannabis plant that produces less than 0.3% delta-9 THC by dry weight is considered hemp, hemp-derived cannabinoids that aren’t delta-9 THC technically are not (yet) prohibited by federal law.*
THC-P currently exists in a gray area. Some states have taken the liberty of banning cannabinoids produced in a similar way, like delta-10 THC. Since THC-P is a new cannabinoid that has only recently become popular, it currently remains legal to use in the United States.
How does THC-P affect the body?
THC-P interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system is a giant network of receptors that exists within nearly every system of the body. Cannabinoids interact with cannabinoid receptors by interacting with them or binding to them.*
Cannabinoids have different binding affinities, which is a preference for binding to receptors. Cannabinoids usually interact with two types of receptors, called CB1 and CB2 receptors. Some cannabinoids can interact with other types of receptors throughout the body.*
Cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) have little to no binding affinity. They pass through and interact with cannabinoid receptors without locking onto them.*
THC-P has a very high binding affinity for both CB1 and CB2 receptors. When it locks onto endocannabinoid receptors, it changes the way they work.*
Does THC-P have psychoactive properties?
THC-P is a potent cannabinoid with heavy psychoactive effects, even at relatively low concentrations. Researchers believe it to be significantly stronger than delta-9 THC, which is legally restricted in many states, like other controlled substances.*
It’s not necessarily bad to use psychedelic substances if they’ve been extensively studied for safety and potential long-term effects. They might even be beneficial in small amounts. There is a wealth of research on delta-9 THC. Most states have decided that it’s safe for people to use delta-9 THC for medical purposes, and several states have decided that it’s safe for people to use it for recreational purposes.*
There is not enough research into the safety of THC-P or its potential long-term effects. This lack of data is even more concerning when considering the potency of THC-P.
A proper THC-P legal review is yet to be conducted, but it’s likely that states will begin to independently ban the use of the cannabinoid as they have with many other synthetic or laboratory-altered cannabinoids.
What are the potential negative effects of THC-P?
THC-P is very similar to THC, and its increased potency may also lead to an increased risk for unpleasant and possibly dangerous side effects. It may be easy to accidentally over consume THC-P, which can lead to a negative experience.*
Many people report feeling elevated on cannabis. It’s a feeling similar to being a little lightheaded, but it generally doesn’t drift into the territory of dizziness or vertigo if cannabis is consumed in modest doses. The heavy hit of THC-P can easily cause dizziness, especially in inexperienced cannabis users.*
You may feel like the room is spinning. Some people describe the experience as similar to being on the verge of fainting. THC-P may rapidly lower blood pressure, which temporarily reduces the amount of oxygen available to the brain. Dizziness is usually temporary and made better by sitting or laying in one place and minimizing movement until the effects of THC-P wear off.*
2. Dry mouth
Dry mouth is a fairly common side effect of most psychoactive cannabinoids. When CB1 and CB2 receptors are activated, the body sometimes has difficulty regulating saliva production. This can cause the persistent and uncomfortable sensation of a dry mouth, also known as cottonmouth.*
If you regularly use cannabinoids like THC-P, saliva production issues can cause long-term effects. Your mouth constantly cleanses itself with saliva, washing away bacteria responsible for causing tooth decay. If your body can’t make enough saliva, more harmful oral bacteria may remain in your mouth. This can lead to significant oral health issues like cavities and tooth decay.*
3. Rapid heart rate
THC-P can temporarily reduce your blood pressure, and it usually happens suddenly. When THC-P causes your blood pressure to suddenly drop, your body attempts to stabilize your blood pressure in response.*
This can lead to rapid heart rate. Rapid heart rate can cause feelings of anxiety or panic, especially if it happens suddenly. Being in an altered state of mind can exacerbate these negative feelings, which makes them harder to control.
It sometimes becomes circular—your heart is racing out of nowhere, so you start to feel anxious. Your anxious feelings can cause your heart to race even more, which escalates your anxious feelings. It can be a difficult cycle to get out of, specially when under the influence of synthetic cannabinoids like THC-P.
4. Sleep disturbances
There are endocannabinoid receptors within your circadian rhythm, which serves as your body’s internal clock. Your internal clock takes cues from your environment and tells you when it’s time to go to bed. It knows how to detect sunlight, and it can tell when it’s dark outside. That’s when your circadian rhythm begins the process of getting your body ready for bed.
Cannabinoids like CBD and CBN may play a supportive role in the sleep process. Cannabinoids like THC-P may interrupt the normal function of your circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. You may wake up feeling groggy or like you haven’t rested at all.*
The psychoactive effects of THC-P can also lead to strange dreams, nightmares, or night terrors. This is more common in people who are already prone to nightmares or night terrors.*
5. Dry eyes
Dry, red, itchy, or watery eyes are common side effects of all cannabis use. THC and related compounds like THC-P are known to cause dry eyes, and researchers aren’t exactly sure why. There is a theory that CB1 receptors in the lacrimal gland may play a role in this side effect.
The lacrimal gland is the gland behind your tear duct, the pink part of the inner corner of your eye. When the lacrimal gland is working the way it’s supposed to, it produces and releases a sufficient amount of tears to keep your eyes from drying out.
The lacrimal gland contains CB1 receptors, which means it can be influenced by cannabinoids. When THC-P binds to CB1 receptors in the lacrimal gland, it can change the way the gland sends and receives messages. Your body might not know when it’s supposed to produce more tears, and it might not do it at all.
If the eyes don’t receive sufficient moisture, they can feel dry and appear red. Eye drops can temporarily help to soothe dry eyes until the effects of cannabinoids naturally wear off.
THC-P binds to receptors in a part of your brain called the amygdala. The amygdala serves many functions. One of its roles is to regulate the emotional response to fear, or the “fight or flight” instinct.
Small amounts of normal THC generally don’t interfere with your amygdala’s ability to regulate this response. THC-P is far more potent than THC, which may cause overstimulation to the amygdala. This overstimulation can cause nervousness, feelings of anxiety, feelings of dread, or panic attacks. Negative feelings can occur even if there’s no clear or apparent reason to be nervous or afraid.
7. Coordination problems
There are many parts of your brain that work together to manage your posture, balance, reaction time, and coordination. It’s never safe to drive or operate heavy machinery under the influence of psychoactive substances because cannabinoids can affect these areas of the brain.
THC-P’s potency can lead to users experiencing noticeable coordination problems rather quickly. THC-P can make you feel clumsy by altering your balance and throttling your reaction time. Simple and familiar tasks, like tying your shoes or taking a shower, might suddenly feel difficult.
The bottom line
Increased potency isn’t always better—in fact, any synthetic cannabinoid should be avoided if you are following a wellness lifestyle. Delta-8 and delta-9 THC are already potent enough. There’s a lot we still don’t know about THC-P, including its potential long-term effects.
We’ll continue to offer naturally derived organic hemp extract products designed to enhance wellness, but synthetics will never be endorsed by Sunmed. We believe cannabinoids should be utilized in their natural-occuring form, in turn providing a safe and beneficial long and short-term THC and CBD experience. Shop our collection of organic hemp wellness products here.
A novel phytocannabinoid isolated from Cannabis sativa L. with an in vivo cannabimimetic activity higher than Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol: Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabiphorol | PubMed Central | National Institutes of Health