Cannabinoid of the Month: THCV
Many of us are already familiar with the most common cannabinoids – tetrahydrocannabinol, or delta-9 THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD – but there are many other cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant as well. These other cannabinoids often appear in the test results of our cured flower and vape cartridges, and they will soon be listed on our packaging alongside THC and CBD. In preparation for this exciting change, we are creating a series of articles educating our patients about the many therapeutic benefits of these lesser-known cannabinoids.
What is THCV?
THCV is very similar in molecular structure to THC, but is actually derived from a different precursor chemical. (THC is derived from CBGA, or cannabigerolic acid, while THCV is derived from CBGVA, or cannabigerovarin acid.) THCV is most common in pure landrace Sativas originating in Africa, China, Nepal, Pakistan, India, Thailand, and Afghanistan.
THCV is often described as the “sports car” of cannabinoids because it offers a rapid onset of effects, and the effects wear off quickly as well. THCV is reported to be about 25% as intoxicating as THC and is said to offer an uplifting, clear-headed high. For these reasons, strains with high levels of THCV are often recommended for patients with PTSD or those who experience anxiety or paranoia when consuming cannabis. A study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that THCV inhibited heart rate increases stimulated by THC, and participants who received THCV reported a weaker intoxicating effect. However, these benefits are only associated with low doses of THCV, because at low doses THCV prevents activation of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor. At high doses THCV acts more like THC, activating both the CB1 and CB2 receptors and enhancing psychoactivity.
Appetite-Suppressant THCV is widely recognized for its unique appetite-suppressing properties. Whereas THC is generally reported to increase food cravings (aka “the munchies”), THCV is reported to decrease cravings and the rewarding feeling caused by eating. This is because THCV blocks the CB1 receptor (which regulates the “hunger hormone” ghrelin) at low doses.
Anti-Inflammatory Research suggests that THCV is a potent anti-inflammatory, reducing both inflammation and the pain caused by inflammation, most likely by blocking the CB1 receptor while activating the CB2 receptor. Research also indicates that THCV promotes bone formation, though additional research is needed to understand how this works.
Anticonvulsant Research has also shown that THCV is an effective anticonvulsant, reducing both the incidence and severity of seizures. This study found that THCV was effective regardless of whether it was applied as a preventative or after the onset of convulsions.
Neuroprotective THCV may also offer significant neuroprotective qualities. Research suggests that it inhibits both the progression of Parkinson’s disease and its symptoms while improving motor function because of its unique ability to block the CB1 receptor while activating the CB2 receptor [at low doses]. Further research indicates that because of this property and its antioxidant effects, THCV has the potential to alleviate other cognitive disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Diabetes Lastly, there is evidence that THCV has the ability to regulate glucose metabolism. One study found that THCV decreased fasting plasma glucose and improved pancreatic cell function in patients with type 2 diabetes, indicating that it can be used therapeutically for glycemic control. Further research found that THCV did not decrease body weight or the amount of food consumed, but was effective at increasing energy expenditure and insulin sensitivity in obese mice—particularly those with insulin-resistance.
THCV has a very high boiling point of 220˚C/428˚F. The best way to take advantage of its benefits is by using a customizable temperature vaporizer such as the Argo. (For more information, see WikiLeaf’s Customize Your High By Controlling Your Vaporizer Temperature).
Cannabis Products Containing THCV
THCV is usually found in pure landrace Sativa strains such as Durban Poison and Malawi, and can be found in low concentrations in many of our cannabis oils. To learn more about THCV, check out this video from SC Labs and Weedmaps: https://youtu.be/wkA6mcAE7Sw