What Is THCV? Uses and Benefits
Cannabinoids have long been utilized for their various therapeutic benefits. While many of them have a similar chemical profile, all cannabinoids slightly differ in their effects.
Where Is THCV Found?
The availability of THCV is minimal. Plants that produce viable amounts of this compound are hard to grow and are relatively hard to find on the market. Because THCV is considered a rare cannabinoid, the supply chain isn’t strong, and it can be expensive.
Generally, the cannabinoid THCV is found in hemp, cannabis, and other plants. Due to the limited quantities, many manufacturers isolate THCV from these plants and infuse it into different products like cannabis drinks and edibles (1).
As the supply for THCV begins to increase over the coming years, this can entice cannabis growers to produce more THCV as accessibility improves.
Some specific strains of cannabis can also have “higher” amounts of THCV present. While this is less common than high concentrations of THC and CBD, according to the American Journal of Botany, the strains with the highest levels of THCV are of African and Asian descent (2).
THCV vs. THC
THCV and THC might sound familiar, but the two cannabinoids are derived from unique parent molecules and produce different effects within the body. THCV and THC are also present at drastically different levels within cannabis.
What about the chemical structure of both compounds? While they also appear similar to each other on the surface apart from a longer hydrocarbon chain on THC molecules, they both come from different molecules and pathways.
A common precursor acid is a cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), synthesized in a chemical reaction between two compounds: olivetolic acid and geranyl pyrophosphate. Many popular cannabinoids, including THC, CBD, and cannabichromene (CBC), are derived from CBGA (3).
Another precursor acid is cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA), formed after a chemical reaction between divarinolic acid and geranyl pyrophosphate instead of olivetolic acid (4). CBGVA is the parent molecule for THCV.
So what is the difference in their effects? Our endocannabinoid system has CB1 endocannabinoid receptors that cannabinoids can interact with (5). At high levels, THCV can also interact with these receptors like THC, although the effects of THCV are usually regarded to be weaker.
The Benefits and Effects of THCV
Reduced Appetite and Weight Management
Research has shown that cannabis and its cannabinoids can have an effect on appetite (6). Generally, cannabis increases your appetite. However, recent studies indicate that THCV may have the opposite effect.
How does this occur? While researchers are still not entirely sure how this phenomenon can occur, many theorize that THCV can block the CB1 receptor. Because this receptor is known for appetite stimulation, blocking this receptor might help reduce hunger signals and decrease appetite. Other cannabinoids, like CBD, can also influence weight loss.
Another study done by the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology (7) suggests THCV can help improve connectivity in brain areas generally altered in obese individuals, making THCV an effective weight-loss compound.
While these findings indicate an interest in THCV and its use in suppressing appetite for weight loss or weight management, most evidence is based on animal research and is still in its infancy. More long-term research is needed.
Obesity and diabetes are also closely linked. THCV can help reduce appetite, suggesting a potential for it to halt the development of type 2 diabetes in individuals.
For those who have diabetes, evidence also points to THCV playing an impact in aiding treatment of the disease. A 2016 study looked at patients with type 2 diabetes and found THCV effective in improving pancreatic cell function (8).
A 2013 study from the Nutrition and Diabetes Journal looked at the potential effects of THCV on mice with type 2 diabetes. Researchers concluded that THCV could increase energy expenditure and insulin sensitivity, while reducing glucose intolerance for obese mice with diabetes (9). From this, the researchers believe that THVC may be a viable treatment option against obesity-associated glucose intolerance.
Many cannabinoids, like CBD, have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation often walks hand in hand with chronic pain and is associated with stress-related conditions. THCV shows potential for reducing inflammation. However, most of the studies investigating this have been done on animals.
The Journal of Pharmacology looked into THCV and how it reduced swelling in mice. Researchers found that THCV effectively reduced swelling and that mice did not show tolerance to the compound even after taking it for four days straight (10). Another study by the British Journal of Pharmacology involving animals found THCV effective in decreasing inflammation signs and pain due to the inflammation. This was due to its interaction with chemical receptors within the body (11).
Dosage and Safety
Before taking any cannabinoid, it’s essential to check in with a health professional. While research surrounding THCV is still in its infancy, many experts believe it’s safe to try. In the few human studies carried out, researchers reported no major side effects.
Generally, the side effects of THCV are similar to THC (12).
- Increased heart rate
- Changes in bowel movements
- Changes in appetite
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Slower reaction times
- Lowered concentration
THCV can be taken just like any other cannabinoid. THCV is usually found in full-spectrum cannabis and hemp products, like oils, tinctures, drinks, gummies, and edibles. It may also be found in cannabis extracts in creams and ointments in smaller doses.
The Bottom Line
While THCV may sound similar to THC, its therapeutic effects and benefits are different from the popular cannabinoid.
THCV is a minor cannabinoid, so more in-depth and long-term research in humans is needed before researchers can make any conclusive claims.
**Standard Disclaimer: CBD is not FDA-approved. We make no such claims that using our products will guarantee relief. Moreover, research regarding CBD is still ongoing and in the early stages.**