Cannabinoid Clinic: THCV

Welcome to Cannabinoid Clinic, an education project powered by Higher Learning LV. This series provides cannabis and hemp industry professionals with easily digested cannabinoid profiles that ask little of your time—but provide plenty of science-based information.

There are two categories of cannabinoids: Phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are those produced by cannabis/marijuana/hemp, while endocannabinoids are made by the human body. This series covers both.

THCV molecular structure

What is THCV?

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is the result of THCVA, the varin-specific acidic precursor for this cannabinoid (stay tuned for more about varins below). First discovered in 1971, it is a peculiar psychoactive cannabinoid for which considerably less research has been conducted than for its chemical cousin delta-9 THC. The most notable characteristic of THCV is that it causes a decrease in appetite.

THCV is considered a minor cannabinoid because it is typically present in low volumes in loose-leaf and other cannabis products. It is most common in examples of the cannabis plant that are considered sativa in nature, conveying energy, creativity, mental stimulation, and clarity.

"In potent doses, however, THCV is significantly psychoactive; many anecdotal testimonies claim even moreso than delta-9 THC."

In low doses, THCV is not only non-psychoactive, but actually acts as a buffer to the psychotropic effects of delta-9 THC (similar to how cannabidiol, or CBD, performs this same role). In potent doses, however, THCV is significantly psychoactive; many anecdotal testimonies claim even moreso than delta-9 THC. Researchers claim that the psychoactivity resulting from THCV features a shorter onset period than delta-9 THC, but also does not last as long.

Like many other cannabinoids and terpenes, THCV has been shown to deliver reductions in inflammation, making it of potential value to literally dozens of conditions and disorders. Antioxidative properties may make this cannabinoid of value in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's.

Example of a THCV-rich product

THCV Fast Facts

  • Role: Results from THCVA

  • Biosynthetic pathway: CBGVA > THCVA > THCV

  • Psychoactivity: Psychoactive

  • Acidic precursor: THCVA

  • Boiling point: 428° F

  • Primary medical benefits: appetite control, anticonvulsant, antioxidant

THCV Medicinal Benefits

Because of its relatively unique ability to decrease appetite (the opposite effect of delta-9 THC), THCV may prove of value in treatment of a number of conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and a number of eating disorders. Due to its antioxidant properties, this cannabinoid may be helpful for those suffering conditions such as Parkinson's disease. It also features distinct properties that may be helpful to epilepsy patients.

"The cannabinoid THCV may be helpful for a number of conditions, including epilepsy."

A 2016 study entitled "From Phytocannabinoids to Cannabinoid Receptors and Endocannabinoids: Pleiotropic Physiological and Pathological Roles Through Complex Pharmacology" reported that THCV may be helpful for a number of conditions, including epilepsy. "The inhibitory effects of the compound could also be useful in epilepsy [because] Δ9-THCV produces antiepileptiform and anticonvulsant properties," noted the scientists.

"THCV suppresses saccharin palatability and the appetite for sweet taste and, at doses as low as 3 mg/kg, reduces food intake and body weight gain in mice, with potential use in the treatment of obesity," reported the research.

A 2020 study entitled "Beneficial effects of the phytocannabinoid Δ9-THCV in L-DOPA-induced dyskinesia in Parkinson's disease" investigated how THCV may provide neuroprotection to patients with Parkinson's disease. It concluded that THCV delayed the appearance of negative signs while also decreasing their intensity, with reductions in particular proteins and other chemicals that promote the cognitive and motor skills decline experienced by Parkinson's patients.

"THCV showed promising anti-inflammatory effects for inflammatory bowel disease."

A 2021 study entitled "Vasculoprotective Properties of THCV in Diabetes Type-2 Induced Microangiopathies of Hepatic Vessels in Mice" reported that THCV "has been implicated to exert anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects via the endocannabinoid system." The research claimed that it confirmed "the vasoactivity of THCV and demonstrates the effects of low-dosed THCV on diabetes-induced changes in the liver," traits that may be helpful in the treatment of patients with diabetes type-2.

A 2022 Canadian study entitled "The In Vitro Pharmacological Evaluation of Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) For Intestinal Inflammatory Conditions" explored the anti-inflammatory properties of THCV and how they might benefit GI disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It reported that "THCV showed promising anti-inflammatory effects by upregulating an anti-inflammatory cytokine in the IO system" and was therefore a potential therapeutic agent for those suffering IBD and related conditions.

Example of a THCV-rich tincture

How to Get THCV

The most common way to consume THCV is tinctures, capsultes, and edibles like gummies. Patients and consumers should be warned that cannabis and hemp products rich in THCV are rare and often relatively expensive. Most cultivars of loose-leaf cannabis feature little or no THCV.

Some companies have begun to focus on this molecule, including the Rare Cannabis Company in Hawaii, Binoid in Los Angeles, and Celestial Wellness in North Carolina.

Like what you just read? Check out our new Cannabis for Cancer Hub that features links to all of our articles about marijuana for cancer.

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