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What Is THCV? Everything You Need To Know

That's right. Some people call it "diet weed" because it will get you buzzed but won't make you hungry.
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Some conversations were had in the 90s and minor studies through the early 2000s but not much research has been done since. Why? Because THCV is only one compound of an even more massive network of compounds that make up the plant we call cannabis.

Cannabis sativa L., respectively, is a convoluted species with massive irregular morphological features. Meaning, this flower is complicated as fuck. There are so many unknown aspects of what people call “weed” among hundreds of other names I’ll probably be listing as well.

For now, let’s put some focus on a little something called Tetrahydrocannabivarin (tetra-hydro-canna-biv-ar-in). Don’t be scared of it, it’s just a word, sound it out.

So let’s chat about THCV, what the heck is it and why should you care about it? Well, it’s a cannabinoid, and only if you care about marijuana. Cannabinoids are compounds found in the lanky beautiful herb known as cannabis.

You already know the most fruitful compound, Tetrahydrocannabinol (tetra-hydro-canna-bin-ol) or THC. The main difference in THCV is the lack of psychoactive effects, to be discussed further below.

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What Is THCV?

Let’s dive into it. What is THCV? Well, if you read the intro, you’d know, but let’s break it down. The chemical compounds in the cannabis plant are extremely complex and have several subspecies that are often not readily apparent, are environmentally flexible, and vary continuously.

This plant is constantly being studied because of its easily complicated, ever-changing evolution. 

While THCV is still a newcomer to the ganja market, most strains only contain trace, undetectable amounts of it. Until recently, THCV was a well-kept secret. It’s difficult to detect, even with the most advanced equipment. 

A relative of the more famous mind-bending THC, THCV is thought to have some psychoactive potential. In early tests, THCV has shown about 25 % of the potency of THC. Though more research is needed, many believe that THCV may be part of what gives Sativa strains their strong, energizing mental high.

THCV Effects

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The same way THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids affect the body, THCV has been shown to be effective for a number of health conditions.

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is the key that unlocks your body’s potential. It is involved in regulating many of your body’s systems through two primary chemical receptors known as CB1 and CB2. These are needed for optimum health, like immune function, sleep, metabolic balance, and so much more.

At low doses, THCV exhibits combative activities at the cannabinoid receptors. In other words, it can block some of the actions caused by regular ol’ pot, such as munchies, anxiety, and/or intense mental highs.

When taken in high doses, THCV can produce both stimulating and sedating effects that more closely resemble your everyday dope. This results in the enhanced euphoric and subjective effects along with therapeutic advantages.

Research has shown that in low doses, THCV may reduce the psychoactivity of THC. In high doses, however, it seems to connect to the same locations in the brain and body as traditional THC. Though, more research is still needed to clear up these associations.

THCV Weight Loss

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In rodent studies, THCV reduces cravings, increases satiety, and regulates positive metabolism energy, making it an analytically useful treatment for weight loss and management of obesity and even type 2 diabetic patients.

Really, THCV may dull the appetite which may be good for consumers focused on weight loss. However, THCV did not significantly affect food intake or body weight gain in any of the studies but produced an early and fleeting increase in energy disbursement.

THCV Appetite Supressant

In a 2007 study presented at the IACM 4th Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicine, researchers found that mice treated with THCV alone spent less time around their food and did not eat as much as other rats. When THCV is combined with THC, however, rodents did not experience weight loss and did not show a reduction in appetite.

Research on other cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), has shown that some non-psychoactive cannabinoids may decrease appetite. This promising research suggests that both CBD and THCV may help curb the munchies and promote weight loss.

Benefits of THCV

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THCV has several beneficial properties, but they vanish pretty quickly, so you can enjoy the full benefits without experiencing them for long periods of time. The most common benefits include weight loss, managing diabetes, convulsive disorders, and Parkinson’s disease.

Diabetes

Previous studies have demonstrated the therapeutic advantages of THCV in glycemic control, glucose management, and lipid balance. THCV has also been shown to reduce fasting blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

In phase 2 clinical trials of 62 patients, researchers at GW Pharmaceuticals tested the effects of CBD and THCV in patients with type 2 diabetes. The trials tested 100 mg of CBD and 5 mg of THCV. The researchers looked at these compounds alone as well as in a 20:1 ratio.

The trials showed that THCV and CBD successfully improved fasting insulin levels, reduced blood glucose levels, improved insulin response, reduced blood pressure, and reduced inflammation markers. Though these trials are preliminary, this gives the cannabinoids potential value in diabetes treatment.

Similar effects have been found in mice. In 2008, a study published in the journal Nutrition  & Diabetes found that while THCV treatment did not seem to curb food intake or body weight gain in genetically obese mice, the cannabinoid did make the mice more sensitive to insulin and had a dose-dependent response on glucose intolerance.

A dose-dependent response is a good sign that THCV is what inspired these changes.

Convulsive Disorders

Several different compounds in the cannabis plant have shown powerful effects against seizures and epileptic convulsions. The two most common cannabis compounds for epilepsy are CBD and THC. Now, early research shows that THCV has anticonvulsant properties as well.

In rodent models, THCV has successfully quelled seizure activity. Researchers believe that this is because of the way THCV engages the nervous system.

Similar to psychoactive THC, THCV binds to special cell receptors (the CB1 and CB2 receptors) that may play a role in managing excessive excitement in the brain. An overly excited brain contributes to epilepsy.

Parkinson’s Disease

THCV has also shown promise in animal studies of Parkinson’s disease. A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology wanted to see if THCV would improve the motor function of rats with an experimental form of Parkinson’s Disease.

As mentioned above, THCV can block certain cell receptors that are targeted by THC. In certain doses, THCV decreases the activation of the CB1 receptor. The CB1 receptor is a location on the surface of a cell that contributes to the psychoactive effects of cannabis.

While THCV can block the CB1 receptor, it also triggers the CB2 receptor. The CB1 receptor is primarily concentrated in the nervous system, and the CB2 is concentrated in the immune system. Researchers speculated that these unique properties of THCV would make it a particularly useful Parkinson’s medication.

According to this rodent study, they were right. Treating rats with THCV improved motor control. It also seemed to delay the progression of Parkinson’s disease. After repeated doses, the cannabinoid also seemed to prevent the death of key brain cells. Parkinson’s symptoms are present when these brain cells die off.

THCV Extraction

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Due to lower levels of it found in plant biomass, or renewable organic material, it is much more expensive to extract THCV. Much like other cannabis products, THCV is extracted from the cannabis plant using a process called chromatography.

This is a process for separating components of a mixture with solutions, suspension, or vapors. This keeps the product pure from outside contaminants while extracting all the compounds from the plant.

The solvent is then evaporated under a vacuum to remove most of the solvent and leave a high purity concentrate behind. It’s important for THCV products to be stored in a cool, dry place, away from heat and light to preserve their potency. Consider it the vampire’s diet weed.

Is THCV Legal?

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Usually referred to as THCV, it’s similar in molecular structure to your typical pot leaf, it acts very differently in the body. Unlike regular Mary Jane, THCV is not a scheduled controlled substance in the United States.

THCV is federally legal as long as it’s extracted from pure hemp plants that contain less than 0.3% THC. It is also permitted in all states where adult recreational use is legal.

Although thanks to recent efforts, the laws surrounding weed may be changing sooner and faster than we have all been hoping for.

THCV vs THC

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As its name suggests, THCV is similar to THC in molecular structure and in high doses the psychoactive properties, but it provides a variety of different effects. THCV is a natural compound found in cannabis which when taken in higher doses in food or smoked, creates a high similar to those created by smoking that tasty herb.

THCV has been found to counter the negative effects of THC, allowing people to stay high for shorter periods of time. 

People who take THCV report a number of significant benefits including preventing motion sickness, enhanced memory function (go figure), improved emotional balance, and a broad range of emotions compared to people who don’t take the substance or any for that matter.

Keep in mind this is subject to the user. Everyone experiences this shit differently. 

THCV vs THCA

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Tetrahydrocannabinolic (tetra-hydro-canna-bin-o-lic) Acid or THCA is yet another lovely compound of the ever complex cannabis plant. The special thing about THCA is when it has been decarboxylated it becomes THC. Okay, chill, let’s break this word down, “de-” to remove, “-carboxyl” chemistry term referring to the indication of an acid. 

As most people may not know (and by most I mean me), cannabis is covered in an acid layer. No, not the type of acid that will have you questioning reality.

This is not at all harmful in any way, but it does limit the amount of THC we are consuming. By decarboxylating the cannabis the A in THCA gets stripped away exposing its most potent self.

Much like THCV and CBD, THCA has the same anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, and even some anti-proliferative properties for the gentlemen. Even though research on THCA is still in its infancy, preliminary studies and user feedback suggest it could very well be a key part of the future of cannabis medicine.

High-THCV Strains

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Although there is still more research to be done, it is being proven that more extraction and purification techniques will allow for the birth of new THCV-rich strains. Keep your eyes peeled for African sativas. Lab results show that THCV is most abundant in sativa strains, particularly landrace strains from Africa. Durban Poison is one of the more common high-THCV strains.

This is a list of strains best known for their tendency toward higher-than-average THCV contents, more for suggestive purposes. These strains can be consumed in their natural green beauty or they can be processed into extracts, oils, and edibles for that higher ass-kicking concentration.

Strains known to be high in THCV:

  • Durban Cheese
  • Jack the Ripper
  • Pineapple Purps
  • Willie Nelson
  • Red Congolese
  • Power Plant
  • Doug’s Varin

These strains come from tropical and subtropical climates, perhaps indicating that the expression of THCV is an environmental adaptation. Many strains native to this region have spread to other areas of the world, including Latin America.

On your next trip to the dispensary, ask about parent genetics. African sativa strains typically have a higher proportion of THCV, the molecule responsible for the anti-anxiety and energy effects of some sativas. Cherry Pie and Platinum Cookies, for example, may express a high THCV content through its Durban Poison parent. It’s always good to know the lineage of your grass.

When shopping for THCV cannabis strains, you can also ask for results from a laboratory. Genetics alone can’t guarantee a high-THCV content and cannabinoid contents may vary from harvest to harvest. Or if you’re feeling ballsy you can just ask for lab-tested strains. You want to make sure you are actually getting a THCV-rich product.

Conclusion

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It is clear that THCV has the potential to be a new preferred cannabinoid in the medical cannabis world. Many pharmaceutical companies are interested in the therapeutic effects of THCV and will most likely continue to produce THCV-rich products.

The word is getting out about this energy-boosting, weight-loss-stimulating, anti-inflammatory powerhouse, and THCV promises to be one of the cannabis industry’s next big kickers. Sadly though, currently, there are few strains in the market that produce significant levels of THCV.

This is a product that invites people of all kinds to give it a try, especially those who have never tried weed because they’re afraid of the high and the munchies negatively associated with being stoned.

Remember, low doses of THCV provide low-key effects that enhance focus and energy. The effect is gentle and long-lasting with no head high unless taken in larger doses. It appeals to the more mellow types, while still satisfying the most cannabis-enthusiastic consumers.

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July 27, 2021 — Last Updated September 07, 2021
Written by Kiara Concepcion
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July 27, 2021 — Last Updated September 07, 2021
Written by Kiara Concepcion

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