Other Cannabinoids

THCb: The Next Alt Cannabinoid?

Dr Abraham Benavides

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY

Dr Abraham Benavides

Medical Doctor

While THCb was discovered years ago, it has only been seriously considered as interesting after a recent study. 

Due to the demand for products derived from hemp that are not a Schedule 1 drug, this cannabinoid and others like THCP are quasi-legal in most states due to the Farm Bill of 2018. 

Now let’s get to the big question….

hemp thcb

What Is THCb?

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabutol is one of the 150 phytocannabinoids in cannabis and hemp plants. It is found in these plants, but only in small concentrations, like many other phytocannabinoids that were recently discovered.

For example, THCP and CBDP were discovered in 2020 by a team of Italian scientists, but are yet to be fully understood and studied. 

THCb is closely related to Delta 9-THC as it is a homolog. This means that it has a similar molecular structure and behavior to that of Delta 9-THC. 

Like Delta 9-THC, it also has an alkyl side chain. But whereas Delta 9-THC has five carbons on this side chain, Delta 9-THCb has only four carbons on its alkyl side chain. Thus, Delta 9-THCb is also called Delta 9-THC-C4

Meanwhile, Delta 9-THCP’s long heptyl (7 carbon) chain extends its ‘tail’ for its entire length. This is the manner in which Delta 9-THCP binding maximizes receptor interactions. 

Conversely, Delta 9-THC’s pentyl side chain does not have as high an affinity as Delta 9-THCP for binding with the CB1 receptors. 

On the other hand, the butyl phytocannabinoid THCb does not bind in the same way. Instead, the smaller four-carbon alkyl side chains of THCb are too short, and instead of fitting into this channel, they have another water-repelling pocket they fit into. 

THCb works in a similar way to THC via the CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout our brains and central nervous system, as well as through organs like the spleen and immune cells. 

But, when compared to Delta 9-THC, Delta 9-THCb has a stronger affinity when binding to the CB1 receptors. This higher affinity means that it binds more efficiently to the CB1 receptors when compared to Delta 9-THC. 

What these affinities have to do with how the exact effects occur has yet to be fully determined. 

Whereas Delta 9-THCP is 33 times more active than Delta 9-THC, its homolog Delta 9-THCb is only 13 times more active with the CB1 receptor when compared to Delta 9-THC. 

What this means is that Delta 9-THCb may be more potent than Delta 9-THC due to the fact it binds easier to CB1 than regular Delta 9-THC. However, since Delta 9-THCb binds to a different area on the receptor, this could vary in practice.

THCb Effects

As sad as it is to say, only one pre-clinical test has been conducted concerning the butyl homolog of Delta 9-THC. 

THCb was studied in an in vivo test to see if there were pain-reducing and anti-inflammatory properties.

This mouse model suggested that THCb has a similar effect as your standard Delta 9-THC. In particular, the research pointed out that THCb does indeed have potential anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties.

THCb has little research or background information, so aside from having potential agonistic activity toward the CB1 and CB2 receptors, little else is known. But this binding activity may point to a greater potency than your average THC.

THCb Benefits 

As noted above, the data is limited, but scientists have determined that it acts on the body similarly to Delta 9-THC.

The animal research completed shows promise for anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

However, despite this affinity where Delta 9-THCb binds easier to the CB1 receptors, there is not enough evidence to confirm if it gets you high. 

But, since it binds to the CB1 receptors easier, it is assumed to have potentially more substantial psychotropic effects than Delta 9-THC. Human studies need to be done to determine any short or long-term effects of Delta 9-THCb.

Potential Side Effects and Risks

As with any compound, there is the potential for additional side effects and risks. 

Since THCb is so new to the market, there are minimal data concerning it. Even though researchers have known about butyl Delta 9-THC for a while, research has been limited until the increased interest in alternative cannabinoids post-2018.

Expect more research soon, but if you decide to purchase Delta 9-THCb, consume at your own risk.

And more importantly, always check for a Certificate of Analysis (COAs) if they have nothing on purity and potency. 

Or, if they are not a well-known company recognized for selling premium alternative cannabinoids, do not purchase these products.

Also, check for testing for residual solvents since any THCb on the market is likely to be a result of cannabinoid conversion. There may be unknown impurities or residues present with potential side effects of their own.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is THCb Stronger Than THC?

Despite THCb having an alkyl side chain with four carbon atoms, whereas THC has five, it is believed that THCb has a higher affinity for binding to the CB1 receptors in our central nervous system. 

In theory, this THC homolog should have more substantial psychotropic benefits than regular Delta 9 THC. But so far, the jury is still out. 

As the THCb products are often mixed with other cannabinoids and have terpenes added, it is hard to determine if the effects consumers feel are due to THCb alone. Or if it is just the combination of these other cannabinoid products, like Delta 8-THC.

That’s why you should always be sure to buy from reputable vendors and consume at your own risk. Always enjoy your THCb responsibly and have a buddy present in case you have a bad reaction to it. 

Each person will likely respond differently to these products, so keep that in mind as well.  

Until we see more research into this phytocannabinoid or more anecdotal evidence from consumers, we are left pretty much in the dark.