Updated: May 7
Varin molecules, technically called varinolic cannabinoids, are only beginning to be included in commercial hemp and cannabis product formulations. Among the most popular varin cannabinoids are CBCV, CBDV, CBGV, and THCV.
The THCV molecule
Different families of cannabinoid compounds feature varying chemical structures. Varin molecules have three carbon atoms in their alkyl side chain, while neutral versions of cannabinoids feature five carbon atoms. The newly discovered phoral family of cannabinoids that were identified in 2019 by Italian researchers, including CBDP and THCP, features seven side chain carbon atoms.
Binding affinity determines potency and other characteristics of these molecules when they "dock" with microscopic cellular receptors within the endocannabinoid system.
The molecular structure of these phytomolecules is important because it changes their binding affinity. Binding affinity determines potency and other characteristics of these molecules when they "dock" with microscopic cellular receptors within the endocannabinoid system (including CB1, CB2, GPR17, GPR55, and others).
Of note is the fact that no varin is a scheduled substance by the U.S. federal government. This means that companies considering product formulations involving varin cannabinoids can infuse them into their products without fear of legal repercussions.
While THC is infamous for causing an increase in appetite, THCV does the opposite. This is a good example of how slight modifications in the molecular structure of these compounds can dramatically impact efficacy outcomes. THCV is found most commonly in what are called "sativa" varieties of the plant.
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Like THC (and unlike CBD), THCV delivers psychoactivity, but in a different manner than THC. There is evidence, including anecdotal observations, that a more potent dose of THCV is required to achieve a perceptible psychoactive effect than for THC. However, when stronger doses are achieved, the effect of THCV is often more pronounced than for THC.
In addition, therapeutic value has been noted for patients who suffer extreme anxiety and panic attacks. This varin compound may be of value to the millions of people with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or social anxiety. Benefit has also been found for those suffering Type 2 diabetes.
A 2016 study entitled "Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabivarin on Patients with Type 2 Diabetes" that was published in the journal Diabetes Care investigated the ability of THCV and CBD to treat this variety of diabetes. "Compared with placebo, THCV significantly decreased fasting plasma glucose," reported the study's authors. They also reported the favorable safety profile for this cannabinoid, stating that "CBD and THCV were well tolerated."
Δ9‐THCV can alleviate the symptoms associated with PD [Parkinson's disease] by blocking CB1 receptors at low doses.
A 2011 study entitled "Symptom‐relieving and Neuroprotective Effects of the Phytocannabinoid Δ9‐THCV in Parkinson's Disease" that was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology explored the ability of THCV to treat diseases involving neurodegeneration and deterioration of cognitive function. Wrote the scientists, "The aim of the present study was to demonstrate that Δ9‐THCV can alleviate the symptoms associated with PD [Parkinson's disease] by blocking CB1 receptors at low doses."
The study concluded, "Given its antioxidant properties and its ability to activate CB2, but to block CB1 receptors, Δ9‐THCV has a promising pharmacological profile for delaying disease progression in PD and also for ameliorating parkinsonian symptoms."
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