THCV is a cannabinoid, which is only found in small amounts in some cannabis strains. Nutritionally valuable and containing rare ingredients, it is important for research and medicine.
THCV: what is it?
The molecular structures of THCV and THC are similar, as are some of their effects. THCV, however, interacts differently with the human body due to its unique biochemical properties. Some clinical benefits may be conferred by these interactions. Research into potential uses for this cannabinoid is still ongoing, but it may play a key role in new treatments.
THCV and THC: what’s the difference?
Chemically, THCV differs from THC by having a 3-carbon group instead of a 5-carbon group. In the endocannabinoid system, THC and THCV act on CB1 and CB2 receptors. While THC acts as an agonist at high doses, THCV acts as an antagonist at low doses. THC’s psychoactive effects can be reduced by small doses of THCV. Additionally, low doses of THC can counteract the negative side effects of THC, such as anxiety, paranoia, increased heart rate, and hunger. At higher doses, THCV, like THC, acts as an agonist at the CB1 receptor, making it inherently psychoactive.
What is the source of THCV?
Similar to the major cannabinoids, THCV has a similar origin, but it contains different elements. As one of two precursor cannabinoids, cannabigerovarin acid (CBGV-A) is the starting material for THCV. In addition, there is CBGA cannabigerol, which is a precursor to THC, CBD, and CBC. An enzyme breaks down CBGA into THCV-A (tetrahydrocannabinol acid), just as CBGA breaks down CBGV-A. Through a process called decarboxylation, THCV-A is converted into THCV.
How does THCV work?
There is less research on THCV than on other cannabinoids. THCV, like many other members of this chemical family, binds to receptors in the brain and immune system. Our bodies may benefit from this interaction.
According to research published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, it may act as an appetite suppressant by modulating reward and aversion mechanisms in the brain associated with obesity and eating disorders.
Researchers measured the neural responses of healthy volunteers to rewarding and aversive food-related stimuli using magnetic resonance imaging and subjective ratings. By enhancing neural responses to aversive stimuli while attenuating responses to food rewards, low doses of THCV (which acts as a CB1 antagonist) were effective. While further research is needed, these findings suggest THCV may be useful in treating obesity.
A study in patients with diabetes found that THCV significantly reduced fasting plasma glucose and improved pancreatic function in patients with type 2 diabetes, in addition to contributing to mechanisms that regulate blood sugar levels. Researchers used varying ratios of THCV and CBD to assess cholesterol concentrations, insulin sensitivity, liver triglyceride levels, and other key health markers in 62 diabetic patients. In the study, THCV improved plasma HDL (a1 lipoprotein) levels, but left HDL (a1 lipoprotein) unchanged. THCV may eventually become a new glycemic control agent for type 2 diabetes if future research supports these results.
Finally, the effects of THCV on psychosis were studied in vivo in rats and in vitro in rat and human cell cultures. It was found to reduce stereotypic behavior in rats, reduce the amount of time rats were immobile in the forced swim test, and normalize hyperactivity, social behavior, and cognitive performance in rats. It has also been shown in vitro to enhance 5-HT₁A receptor activation, thereby partially inhibiting the effects of neurodegenerative artificial agents.
This research needs to be further confirmed by more laboratory studies and possibly clinical tests on patients. However, these positive results already suggest that THCV may have the ability to ameliorate and reduce the devastating cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia in humans. Potential Benefits of THCV The main potential of THCV lies in suppressing appetite and reducing anxiety, depression or PTSD. Where to Find THCV Currently, most common strains contain less than 1% THCV, making it expensive to extract large quantities of this cannabinoid. Higher THCV contents were found in descendant lines of pure sativa Iandraces from Africa and Nepal.
Breeding cannabis strains that are high in THCV and low in THC is one of the new challenges facing breeders, and there are now strains that are specifically bred to contain high THCV and THC levels. When choosing THCV strains, you can look for pure sativa genetics, but keep in mind that cannabinoid content will vary from harvest to harvest.
The possibility of producing more THCV is increased when planting settings mimic tropical climates. Some of the highest levels of THCV can be found in strains like Durban Poison, Jack the Ripper, and Doug’s Varin. THCV is also produced by African sativas like Power Flower (offspring of Jack the Ripper like Mother Gorilla) and Durban Poison (like Royal Cookies).
There was, however, only one THCV strain specifically bred for Doug’s Varin. As a result, the market does not currently offer THCV isolates or pure THCV extracts. While more research is needed, THCV shows clear promise for medical use, and we look forward to what lies ahead.