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THCB: Newcomer or already known cannabinoid?

What is THCB and what is its chemical structure?

Tetrahydrocannabutol or THCB, also nor-THC, Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol-C4, Δ9-THC-butyl, Δ9-THC-C4 is a cannabinoid that occurs naturally in the cannabis plant, but only in low concentrations. It is a minor cannabinoid, as are, for example, THCJD and THCH

The cannabinoid THCB was studied as early as 1942 by the American chemist Roger Adams, who also succeeded in isolating chemically pure CBD from the cannabis plant for the first time. And in 2019, a study came out in which Italian scientists said they identified THCB in CBD samples obtained from hemp and in a variety of medical cannabis, which likely led some to believe it was a newly discovered cannabinoid. 

However, in a 1997 study, researchers reported that they had already identified minor components of the THC, CBD and CBN homologues, which have a butyl side chain, in marijuana samples. 

This brings us to the fact that THCB is a homologue of the cannabinoid delta-9-THC (THC). The term homologue refers to chemicals of the same type that share similar chemical structure and properties.

THCB has a butyl side chain with four carbons, whereas THC has a classical pentyl side chain with five carbons.


Cannabis samples - THCB identification

What is the process for making THCB?

When it comes to making THCB, it's not as easy as extracting CBD. There is no way scientists can extract this substance straight from cannabis to meet demand. For this reason, most THCB products are currently made from other, more common cannabinoids, such as CBD

In simple terms, scientists do not add extra carbons to the THC molecule, but use a synthetic substance (precursor) that already has the appropriate number of carbon atoms in a chemical process called 'terpenylation'. To make tetrahydrocannabutol, scientists need butylresorcinol or resorcinol with a chain length of four carbons.

What are the effects of THCB?

For now, we don't have enough research on how THCB works. We do know that it is a psychoactive cannabinoid and from the information so far we can assume that the potency of THCB is similar to that of THC, probably THCB has slightly milder to similar effects to THC

In the experience of users, it can induce euphoria, more energy and creativity, induce a sense of relaxation, reduce pain symptoms and affect perception and mood.

The THCB compound binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). CB1 receptors are mainly in the brain and nervous system and therefore have a psychoactive effect on the body. CB2 receptors are mainly found in the immune system. The exact mechanism of interaction with the ECS remains under investigation.

The journal Pharmaceuticals published a study in 2020 suggesting that higher affinity for the CB1 receptor appears beneficial in neurological diseases such as epilepsy and that THCB exhibits anticonvulsant properties.

In 2020, two more studies in mice were published, a study in the Journal of Natural Products suggesting that THCB has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and Scientific Reports published a study by Italian scientists suggesting that THCB helps to alleviate pain symptoms.

It appears that THCB could have a number of potential therapeutic benefits, but further research is needed to confirm any of these effects.

What are the possible side effects?

Each substance carries a potential risk of adverse effects, and the intensity of these effects will vary depending on the health status, metabolism and tolerance of the user, the dose and the route of consumption

Possible side effects:

  • Increased heart rate
  • redness of the eyes
  • dry mouth
  • impaired coordination
  • memory problems
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • dizziness

What is the product range and legality of THCB?

At the moment, the THCB offer is not that extensive, mainly THCB distillates, flowers, edibles, THCB vapes and cartridges and liquids appear on the Czech market. 

THCB is legal under the so-called Farm Bill, which made all cannabis derivatives legal as long as they do not contain more than 0.3% THC. In the Czech Republic, the limit has been raised to 1% THC.

However, its legal status may be hampered by its psychoactive properties, which could 'nudge' it into a legal grey area.


Basket of cannabis products


THCB has a butyl side chain with four carbons and is a homologue of the cannabinoid delta-9-THC. As it is a minor cannabinoid, extraction from cannabis is challenging, so more often THCB products are made from other cannabinoids such as CBD.

Arguably, the potency of THCB is comparable to that of THC. Preliminary research suggests that it has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anticonvulsant properties. Further research is needed to confirm these effects.

The golden rule in conclusion: always choose trusted and vetted retailers who have their products tested by an independent third party. And keep in mind that although most manufacturers are careful to comply with legal THC limits, THCB is a potent cannabinoid with psychoactive properties.


Original text: Patricie Mikolášová, translation by AI



Photo: Shutterstock

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