ˈte-trə hī-drə-kə-ˈna-bə-ver-in | Noun
THCV is a non-intoxicating cannabis compound that produces several therapeutic effects in the body. This minor cannabinoid is found in trace amounts in cannabis and interacts with both CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. We need more research to better understand its effects in humans.
“THCV is a rare, but promising cannabis compound with several potential therapeutic benefits.”
“I found an original African sativa strain that’s high in THCV.”
What is Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
It’s a minor cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. THCV doesn’t have a prominent role or is as researched as major phytocannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Like other cannabinoids, THCV is synthesized from cannabigerovarin acid (CBGVA).
CBGVA is one of the two main cannabinoid precursors together with cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). As a result of enzyme activity in the plant, CBGVA is converted into the acidic form of this cannabinoid, THCVA. With the process of decarboxylation, or exposing the cannabis plant to heat, the acid turns into the neutral compound THCV. The conversion of the acid form to the neutral form may also happen over time when the cannabis plant starts to age and is exposed to oxygen and light.
When consumed in the body in their neutral forms, cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a network of cannabinoid receptors, cannabinoid-like molecules known as endocannabinoids, and enzymes that work together to maintain internal balance or homeostasis. Each person has a unique endocannabinoid system. Phytocannabinoids interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptors that unlock various psychoactive and therapeutic benefits.
THCV is a less prominent cannabinoid compared to THC and CBD, but research shows that it has several potential therapeutic benefits. It also may contribute to the psychotropic activity of THC.
How Does It Work?
The cannabis plant synthesizes phytocannabinoids in its trichomes, the glandular hairs found on the surface of the plant. That’s where THCV is also formed. This cannabinoid binds to the two main cannabinoid receptors in the body, CB1 and CB2.
The CB1 receptors are located largely in the brain and play an important function in regulation and controlling the brain’s reward circuitry. They induce dopamine transmission and produce a euphoric high when activated by THC. The CB2 receptors are located throughout the body, but mainly in the immune cells and play a huge role in fighting inflammation.
Will THCV Get You High?
This cannabinoid displays a complex psychoactive potential that depends on the dosing. In low doses, it acts as a neutral antagonist at CB1 receptors. An antagonist is a compound that opposes the normal response of another compound when it binds to a receptor. A neutral antagonist is a compound that inhibits (hinders) the action of both agonist and antagonist compounds. For example, THC is an agonist, or activator of the CB1 receptor. As a neutral antagonist of the CB1 receptor, THCV may inhibit the intoxication associated with THC.
It’s important to notice that THCV is present in trace amounts in most cannabis cultivars (strains). That makes it unlikely for the user to experience any of its inhibiting effects on THC. It all comes down to the complex relationship between the two cannabinoids and their interaction in the user’s body.
Is It Legal?
This compound is not explicitly banned as a controlled substance and we don’t have much legislation that determines its legal status. Like other similar compounds to THC, it may be considered its analog and get automatically banned.
That said, this cannabinoid is only legal in states where marijuana is legal for recreational purposes. If you live in a state where weed is legal, you can easily find products that contain this cannabinoid, including marijuana flower. If you live in a state where marijujana is illegal, finding such a product will be a challenge because the legality of this cannabinoid is still questionable. The only exception to this might be a hemp-derived CBD oil that contains some amount of THCV.
We don’t have this cannabinoid readily available in its own isolated form. Luckily, a handful of cannabis strains produce a good amount of THCV, which makes them highly sought-after on the market.
Benefits of THCV
Like with other secondary cannabinoids, more research is needed to understand the effects of this compound on the human body. So far, several studies on humans and animals have revealed a variety of potential therapeutic effects, including:
- Anti-inflammatory properties: One 2010 animal study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology revealed that this cannabinoid decreased signs of inflammation and inflammatory pain in mice.
- Neuroprotective agent: One 2011 animal study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that THCV’s antioxidant properties and its ability to block the CB1 receptor and activate the CB2 receptor make it a promising agent for delaying disease progression and ameliorating symptoms of Parkinson’s.
- May help with seizures: One 2010 study in rats published in the journal Epilepsia found that THCV may reduce seizure activity in epileptic animal subjects.
- May help with diabetes: Animal studies show promising results on the potential of THCV to regulate glucose levels, which may help treat diabetes. One 2016 study investigated the effects of THCV and CBD on 62 subjects diagnosed with type II diabetes. The study found that THCV has potential to help treat symptoms of diabetes by controlling glucose activity.
- May promote bone health: A 2007 study published by Calcified Tissue International found that THCV may promote bone health and healing by activating the CB2 receptors in the bone marrow.
- May suppress appetite: THCV is often referred to as a cannabinoid with appetite-suppressing qualities. Cannabis researcher and scholar Chris S. Duvall refers to THCV as an “appetite suppressant” in his book The African Roots to Marijuana. Allegedly, this cannabinoid may contribute to weight management and weight loss. We still need clinical trials and studies to gain evidence that this cannabinoid suppresses appetite, alone or together with other cannabinoids.
Due to its potentially powerful effects, this molecule is attracting attention from consumers and businesses. Some people predict that this cannabinoid is becoming one of the most sought after on the market. The biggest challenge is that it shows up in relatively low concentrations in most cannabis strains, except for some African sativas.
Some high-THCV-strains are Durban Poison, Tangie, Power Plant, Skunk #1, and more. This makes it hard to find a purer extract or product made from this compound, like a tincture or an oil. The next best thing is to find a more generic full spectrum cannabis extract that includes this cannabinoid in its cannabinoid profile.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a secondary cannabis compound that naturally occurs in tiny quantities in the cannabis plant.