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The world of cannabis is ever-evolving, and new compounds are continuously being discovered with unique properties and potential health benefits. One of these compounds is THCV or tetrahydrocannabivarin, which is gaining popularity as an emerging cannabinoid with many therapeutic benefits.
Despite being discovered in the 1970s, it was not until recently that researchers began to explore its full potential. In this article, we will dive into everything you need to know about THCV, including what it is, how it works, its potential benefits in areas such as weight loss, diabetes, bone health, anxiety, and neuroprotection, and any possible side effects to consider.
So buckle up and keep reading. You might be surprised by what you learn about this emerging cannabinoid!
What is THCV?
THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) is a minor cannabinoid found in small amounts in some strains of cannabis. It is structurally similar to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, but it produces different effects. THCV was first discovered in the 1970s, but researchers have largely overlooked it until recently.
How does THCV work?
THCV interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our endocannabinoid system, just like THC and CBD. However, it produces different effects because it has a slightly different molecular structure. THCV has been shown to act as a partial agonist at the CB1 receptor, meaning it can activate and block the receptor. It also potentially affects other receptors, such as the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor and the dopamine D2 receptor.
THCV Compared with THC and CBD
THCV, THC, and CBD are three different compounds in the cannabis plant, each with unique structures and effects on our endocannabinoid system.
THCV vs THC
Although structurally similar, THCV and THC produce different effects due to their interaction with CB1 receptors in our endocannabinoid system.
THC is a psychoactive compound commonly known to produce the “high” associated with the use of cannabis. It can produce a range of effects such as relaxation, altered perception of colours, sounds or feelings, increased appetite, dry mouth and eyes, and in some cases, paranoia and anxiety.
In contrast, THCV, while still able to bind to CB1 receptors, has a milder psychoactive effect and can even counteract THC’s ability to produce the aforementioned “high” effect. THCV might not be ideal for recreational marijuana consumption and might be better suited for those seeking functional effects like increased energy, focus, alertness, and appetite suppression.
THCV vs CBD
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and one of the most widely known and researched compounds in cannabis. Unlike THC and THCV, CBD does not bind well to CB1 receptors. Instead, it is thought to interact with a range of other receptors and ion channels in our body, which may result in anxiolytic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, anti-psychotic, and neuroprotective effects.
THCV and CBD overlap in their therapeutic potential, particularly concerning weight loss and type 2 diabetes. However, there are some significant differences in their action mechanisms and effects.
THCV can help with weight loss by reducing appetite, increasing metabolism and energy expenditure, and decreasing fat levels while also improving insulin sensitivity and glucose control, making it potentially helpful for type 2 diabetes. Some studies have also shown that THCV can have neuroprotective effects, particularly beneficial for people with neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
Conversely, CBD is more commonly used to combat anxiety, stress, and depression. Studies have also suggested CBD could reduce inflammation, pain, and seizures and improve sleep quality.
Different Ways to Consume THCV
THCV can be consumed in several ways, similar to how other cannabinoids are consumed. Here are some different ways to consume THCV:
Like THC-heavy strains of cannabis, some strains of marijuana contain relatively high amounts of THCV. Smoking cannabis that contains THCV can provide users with the benefits of the THCV cannabinoid. However, smoking is not always the healthiest method of consuming THCV or THC, and it can negatively impact people with respiratory issues.
Vaping cannabis extract is a relatively healthier method of consumption compared to smoking. Vaping is a discrete and easy method to consume THCV or other cannabinoid extracts. As vaping is relatively new, there is little information available concerning the long-term health effects of vaping.
Cannabis tinctures are oral drops mixed with alcohol or other oils that can be consumed orally or sublingually (under the tongue). Tinctures are easy to use as a consumer can administer a precise amount of the product. Tinctures with THCV generally take effect quickly, with the impact able to last a few hours for some people.
Edibles are a convenient way to consume THCV-infused food products. The effects of edibles can generally last longer than inhalation methods of consumption. However, consumers must also be cautious about consuming too much, as edibles can produce powerful and long-lasting effects.
Similar to standard vitamins, THCV capsules come in standardized doses that are easy to consume. Capsules with THCV can offer users a precise amount of the cannabinoid.
Potential Benefits of Consuming THCV
THCV has a wide range of potential therapeutic benefits, which researchers around the world are studying. Some of the most promising areas of research include:
THCV has been shown to reduce appetite and increase metabolism in animal studies. This could make it a helpful tool for weight loss in humans.
In animal studies, THCV has been shown to improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. This makes it a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes.
THCV has been shown to promote bone growth and reduce bone loss in animal studies. This makes it a potential treatment for osteoporosis.
Anxiety and PTSD
Cannabis may offer potential benefits for reducing anxiety and PTSD symptoms due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system in the brain. Its main components CBD and THC work together to offer soothing and sedative effects to its users and help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and stress.
The endocannabinoid system plays a key role in regulating various physiological processes, including those related to the central nervous system. That is why cannabinoids like CBD and THC which are present in cannabis plants offer various neuroprotective effects. This helps slows down or cure mental illnesses such as Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's, and more.
Other Notable Benefits
In addition to the potential therapeutic benefits already mentioned, THCV has been shown to have other notable benefits that are worth exploring:
- Anti-inflammatory properties: THCV has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties that benefit people with various autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
- Reduсed рanic attacks: Somе studies have shown TНCV may hеlp rеducе рanic attacks by moderating the effeсts оf ТHC. It could make cannabis use morе tolerаble for pеoplе who аre suscеptiblе to ТHC-induced рanic attacks.
- Reduced motor control problems: THCV may help reduce motor control issues from THC use. It may be useful in treating situations where cannabis use has led to motor control problems, such as Parkinson's disease.
- Cut down cigarette addiction: A study from 2013 showed that THCV could potentially reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and may prove useful in treating cigarette addiction.
Possible Side Effects of Consuming THCV
Like any other compound, anything that is too much for our system to handle is harmful. That is why it is always best to note your dosage and level of tolerance. Here are some of the dangers of going beyond your limits:
As explained earlier, THCV offers psychoactive effects because it has a similar molecular structure to THC and binds to the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain, though with different effects. While THC is known for its sedative effects of letting users experience a feeling of euphoria, THCV on the other hand offers energizing effects that uplift the mood of its users.
THCV is said to interact with CYP enzymes, which are responsible for the metabolism of many drugs in the liver. When this happens, it can affect the way other drugs are metabolized in the body, leading to decreased efficacy or increased toxicity of certain drugs. That is why it is important to always keep it in moderation when ingesting THCV.
Unknown safety profile
THCV may offer an unknown safety profile due to the limited research conducted on this particular cannabinoid. While there are some initial tests done on animal subjects, there are still limited cases showcasing its success for human consumption.
Cannabis Strains Rich in THCV
When you are looking for cannabis strains with high levels of THCV content, here are some of our recommendations:
One of the most popular strains known for having high THCV content is Durban Poison, which is known to produce a focused and energetic high. Due to its unique profile, genetic origin, and effects Durban Poison is a highly valued strain. With high THCV levels, Durban Poison is great in alleviating stress, anxiety, and depression. It offers stimulating effects to its users as it regulates mood and boosts energy levels.
This strain is a 50/50 hybrid of three original landrace strains—Acid, Afghani, and Mexican Sativa—which gives it a balance of Indica and Sativa traits. It also has higher-than-average levels of THCV, which makes it popular among those seeking the functional effects that this cannabinoid can provide.
This strain is a blend of Pineapple, Skunk #1, and genetics from California, known as a "purps," producing high levels of both THC and TCHV.
Willie Nelson is a cannabis strain named for the music legend and activist Willie Nelson. This Indica-dominant strain is a cross between an unknown South African Sativa and an Oregon Afghani Indica and produces high levels of THCV in addition to other minor cannabinoids. The high levels of THCV are what make this strain popular among those seeking the functional effects that this cannabinoid can provide.
Bottomline: Understand Before You Consume
THCV is an emerging cannabinoid that has the potential to produce a wide range of therapeutic benefits. While it is not yet widely available in commercial cannabis products, it is beginning to attract the attention of researchers and product developers.
As more research is conducted, it is likely that we will learn more about the potential of THCV as a therapeutic agent. In the meantime, people interested in using THCV should use it with caution and be aware of the potential risks and side effects.