What is THCV and What Is It Used For?
At this point, I’m sure your brain is nearing maximum capacity when it comes to learning new cannabis-related acronyms. THC, CBD, Delta-8, HHC – the Cannabis sativa plant contains so many different cannabinoids that they are hard to keep track of sometimes. The one that we are going to cover today is Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV if you don’t feel like attempting that tongue-twister. Like all of the other cannabinoids that we have covered, THCV is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that produces its own unique effects.
In comparison to Delta-9 THC or CBD, THCV has received less media attention and formal research. As a result, in combination with being a fairly sparse compound in the Cannabis plant, THCV is not quite as well researched as some of the other cannabinoids gaining traction in the cannabis sphere. With that being said, there is evidence that THCV can be uniquely beneficial for a number of ailments.
What is THCV?
The question, “what is THCV?” can be answered very simply. It is a cannabinoid. In its most basic form, THCV works on the brain in a very similar way to other cannabinoids that you’ve probably heard of before. Some other examples include Delta-9 THC, CBD, and Delta-8. Cannabinoids bind with CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and body and induce a wide range of effects.
THCV is an analog of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which means that THCV and traditional Delta-9 THC share a very similar molecular structure, differentiated by only a small discrepancy. The primary difference between the two compounds is THCV’s shorter hydrocarbon chain. While the two might seem like twins on surface level, the small structural difference, along with the fact that THCV and Delta-9 THC are derived from different parent molecules, make the effects of the two compounds very different.
What is THCV Good For?
Compared to Delta-9 THC, and pretty much every other cannabinoid on the market, THCV produces some interesting effects that seem to contradict the main effects of THC that people most are familiar with. Unlike other cannabinoids that recept with CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors and produce psychoactive or impairing effects, THCV is not psychoactive in small doses. In fact, THCV can actually reverse the psychological effects of Delta-9 THC.
THCV For Weight Loss
We all know the stereotype, stoners and snacks go together like peanut butter and jelly. Delta-9 is notorious for exacerbating hunger as it interacts with your brain, thus the “munchies” arrive and before you know it, a large pizza was there one second and gone the next. The onset of hunger from tetrahydrocannabinol is a result of the agonistic properties of the compound.
Since THCV interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid receptors in a very different way, the “munchies” effect is non-existent. In fact, THCV can be used as an appetite suppressant and can prove beneficial to those with either diet-induced obesity or genetic obesity. While most of the findings regarding THCV for weight loss have been from animal research, the results are promising for human applications too.
THCV for Type 2 Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
One of the most significant findings surrounding THCV is its ability to promote pancreatic cell function, leading to better regulation of blood sugar regulation in those with type 2 diabetes. In a randomized, double-blind study on human subjects with type 2 diabetes, a research team for the American Diabetes Association concluded that THCV displayed positive effects on glycemic control.
THCV has other beneficial effects for diabetes mitigation as well. Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) has been shown to have metabolism-boosting effects, leading to reduced cholesterol levels in the blood and liver. Additionally, THCV has been proven to improve the body’s production of insulin. In combination, the potential for THCV use in diabetes treatment and therapy is apparent. So much so that GW Pharmaceuticals – based in the UK – is in the process of utilizing THCV and CBD for future type 2 diabetes mediation.
THCV for Epileptic Seizures as an Anticonvulsant
As we have already established, THCV has proven to be a beneficial, non-psychoactive compound for a number of different ailments, from diabetes to obesity. While most of the formal research surrounding THCV has been focused on the above-mentioned uses, THCV has also been proven to display anticonvulsant properties as well, despite not being studied as much.
Over years of studying the Delta-9 THC cannabinoid, researchers have concluded that THC can have a significant effect on controlling epileptic seizures. While THC might not have a positive impact on some types of epilepsy, studies have shown that it can greatly reduce the severity of seizures in some epileptics. Since THCV has a similar molecular structure to THC, researchers have speculated that THCV has a similar anticonvulsant effect and without the intoxicating effects that THC produces.
In a 2010 study by Andrew J Hill, et al. for the Epilepsia Journal, researchers concluded that THCV does, in fact, exhibit both anticonvulsant and antiepileptiform properties in a similar way to Delta-9 THC. In a test trial with mice, the researchers found that THCV significantly reduced “burst complex incidence” and seizure incidence.
What Forms Does THCV Come In?
Since THCV is a rare cannabinoid compared to Delta-9 THC or CBD, it is a difficult compound to isolate in large qualities. THCV is most prevalent in certain strains of marijuana or hemp, primarily in strains with African origins. While THCV is difficult to isolate, that isn’t to say that it hasn’t been done.
Pure THCV products typically come in the form of a spray or tincture containing pure THCV oil. On the tincture front, Silver Owl provides a naturally derived THCV tincture containing 1,000mg of THCV oil for sublingual use. If you are planning on giving THCV a go, a tincture is a solid route as it absorbs quickly under your tongue and enters the bloodstream rapidly.
Does THCV Get You Stoned?
Compared to Delta-9 THC which is significantly more potent than THCV, tetrahydrocannabivarin by itself will only get you stoned in large quantities. Going back to how THCV affects the body and brain, the psychoactive effects of THCV are based completely on the dose.
To produce a similar euphoric, heady feeling that Delta-9 THC produces, you’d have to take a THCV dose large enough for it to have an agonistic effect on your body’s CB2 receptors. That typically happens around the 30mg mark. Even then, the effects would be much less extreme than they would be from Delta-9 THC.
THCV’s lack of psychoactive properties are a large reason people use the compound, as it produces unique effects without impairing cognition. If you are looking for a way to get high in a non-legal state, THCV isn’t likely your answer.
Is THCV Legal?
The legality of THCV is an interesting topic to tackle, as there are technically a few right answers to that question. In the end, for federal legality purposes at least, it boils down to what plant the THCV was derived from. THCV can be derived from either marijuana or hemp plants, which can make the difference between federally legal THCV and illegal THCV. Due to the 2018 Farm Bill which made hemp-derived cannabinoid products federally legal to manufacture and purchase, THCV extracted from hemp plants, rather than marijuana, is technically federally legal.
If THCV is derived from marijuana, it may be considered a Schedule 1 drug in the future on the grounds that it is a structural analog to tetrahydrocannabinol. There is legal framework in place which might make THCV the target of federal intervention in the future. The Federal Analog Act could have implications for THCV, unless a strong case can be made that THCV is chemically diverse enough from THC to fall outside of the Act’s parameters.
At this point in time, however, THCV is unregulated and is not explicitly prohibited in the eyes of the U.S. federal government.
Will THCV Cause You To Fail A Drug Test?
As a general rule, it is not a good idea to smoke or consume any THCV tetrahydrocannabivarin products if you have a routine drug test coming up. Due to the fact that THCV has a similar molecular structure to Delta-9 THC, THCV can absolutely cause you to fail a drug test. While there aren’t any tests that target THCV directly, its similarity to other intoxicating cannabinoids makes it likely to trigger a positive result.
Depending on how frequently you ingest THCV, the compound can stay in your system for anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. Frequent THCV users can expect the compound to be detectable for up to 14 days depending on multiple factors including individual metabolic rates, the potency of the THCV product, and whether or not the product contains other cannabinoids. For light tetrahydrocannabivarin users, that number could be significantly less.
THCV Takeaways and Summary
While it might be a bit difficult to keep all of the cannabinoid acronyms straight, THCV is an important one to remember. Unlike many other cannabinoids derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, THCV is a non-psychoactive compound that works against CB1 receptor interaction. That means that it produces noticeable effects without the intoxication that comes with normal THC, at least in small doses.
THCV has no doubt been neglected in the media and scientific community despite the compound having numerous beneficial qualities. THCV functions almost completely opposite to Delta-9 THC when it comes to hunger management and food consumption. Unlike regular THC which promotes hunger, THCV actually stifles it. Due to THCV’s inaction on the CB1 endocannabinoid receptor, THCV actually distracts the brain from the sensation of hunger, which can be beneficial to those battling obesity.
THCV has also proven to be extremely beneficial to other ailments like type 2 diabetes and some forms of epilepsy. THCV has been proven to boost metabolism and help with insulin production, helping with diabetic symptoms. Tetrahydrocannabivarin also shows similar anticonvulsant effects to Delta-9 THC which has been used to treat epileptic seizures for a while now.