Delta THC | Science

Meet THCV: The Phytocannabinoid Associated With Weight Loss

Dr Abraham Benavides

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY

Dr Abraham Benavides

Medical Doctor

While we’re all familiar with the more talked about phytocannabinoids: CBD, D-9 THC, and as of late, Delta 8, Delta 1O & THCP, there’s another one to add to the list – THCV. 

It’s touted by science as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent coupled with a complete lack of munchies while being slightly psychoactive.  

Interested to learn more? Join us as we dive into the science below!

What Is THCV?

THCV stands for tetrahydrocannabivarin, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabivarin.

The chemical structure of the molecule is fairly similar to THC. The main difference is two fewer carbons in the carbon tail.

Quite a small difference, right? At least seemingly. But in reality, this has to do with considerable differences in associated effects and potential therapeutic benefits.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin is a naturally occurring phyto-cannabinoid and it was first discovered back in the 1970s.

THCV belongs to the big family of almost 150 active cannabinoids we know so far. Yet studying this particular molecule hasn’t been a priority until late.

Studies indicate that pure THCV is relatively common in cannabis plants, but in much lower concentrations than the more explored cannabinoids such as Δ9-THC and CBD.

How Tetrahydrocannabivarin Is Formed

There are solid reasons why in research cannabis is called “the plant of a thousand and one molecules”. All cannabinoids are born through mesmerizing pathways of biosynthesis.

Within the plant, THCV is derived from an entirely different cannabinoid acid than its famous relatives THC and CBD.

Both THC and CBD occur as byproducts of the synthesis of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). But tetrahydrocannabivarin is a byproduct of cannabigerovarin acid (CBGVA).

Later, CBGVA converts into THCVA. Eventually, when exposed to heat or light, THCVA turns into THCV.

THCV Effects

THCV’s nicknames include “diet weed” and “the sports car” of cannabinoids.

This has to do with THCV’s ability to produce fast-acting yet simultaneously short-lasting effects. Moreover, the psychoactive effects significantly differ from its close relative THC.

As studies highlight, one of the main advantages of Tetrahydrocannabivarin is the lack of intoxicating effects. That’s when it comes to consuming low doses though.

Ultimately, you’ll need extremely high doses to experience a potent psychoactive ride with this cannabinoid. This isn’t recommended, and be advised the health effects of high amounts of any cannabinoid aren’t yet known.

How Does THCV Work In The Human Body?

Like other cannabinoids, tetrahydrocannabivarin works through the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS).

The two primary receptors in the ECS include the CB1 and the CB2 receptors.

THC acts as a partial agonist to CB1 receptors. Agonists are chemicals that “turn on,” or activate the receptor. Due to this, the typical high with THC is often accompanied by the notorious munchies.

Also, activating CB1 receptors has to do with the potent mental-level psychoactivity of THC. Think of, for example, the temporary impairments in cognitive function.

Meanwhile, THCV acts as an antagonist to CB1 receptors. That’s why THCV can possibly block some of the intense effects associated with THC.

Now, there is a slight “catch,” though. All of the above is only true when it comes to consuming low doses.

At higher doses, THCV activates both the CB1 and the CB2 receptors.

A 2020 study published by Science Direct points out that the activity of THCV is rather complicated:

“THCV is implicated as a cannabinoid receptor antagonist by competitively inhibiting THC@CB1 formation, although other evidence implies that THCV may also be an indirect agonist”

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THCV Benefits 101

No surprise why THCV is creating new waves of excitement amidst medical and recreational cannabis users alike.

It is thought to possess an array of distinguished, purported therapeutic effects. Weight loss instead of munchies-induced weight gain? This study suggests it could be on the menu!

However, just like other cannabinoids and their function on the endocannabinoid system, THCV also requires much more in-depth research with larger, well-controlled studies. But over time, science is bound to reveal how we can navigate its potential.

Now, let’s dive deeper into the available research.

1. THCV May Promote Weight Loss

A study published by Cambridge University Press highlights the crucial role of the endocannabinoid system in appetite regulation.

According to this study, one of the potential therapeutic benefits of THCV is its ability to help promote weight loss. Yup, THCV is an appetite suppressant. This is reiterated in a secondary follow up review too.

That’s quite contrary to the THC high and the legendary munchies.

So, how does the magic happen?

THCV Inhibits The Action Of CB1 Receptors

Studies show that the activation of CB1 signaling relates to the stimulation of feeding and increasing appetite. 

On the contrary, when CB1 receptors are blocked, this can lead to appetite suppression. This concept is backed up by a few animal studies.

A 2020 study published by the Journal of Cannabis Research evaluated the effects of THCV in genetic obesity and diet-induced obesity in mice. The results point out that

  • “THCV decreases appetite”
  • “increases satiety” and 
  • “up-regulates energy metabolism.”

In 2015, the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology released research evaluating the effects of THCV in 20 healthy volunteers aged 20 – 36. The participants took a single 10mg dose of THCV orally and underwent brain imaging.

The researchers concluded that THCV may help with weight loss due to the specific ways in which it affects certain areas of the brain. 

These areas of the brain are typically hyperactive in people with obesity and those who are struggling to lose weight.

More precisely, the weight-loss properties of THCV were related to its ability to increase

  • “connectivity in the cognitive control network and dorsal visual stream network.”

This is relevant because science suggests that obesity negatively affects communication within the brain and more importantly, that it impacts the regions which THCV can influence.

Heads Up: Mind the Dose! 

It’s important to note that THCV activates both the CB1 and the CB2 receptors at high doses. 

That’s why if you take too much, it might not have the desired effects on, for instance, suppressing appetite.

The shortest summary of how THCV works when it comes to appetite suppression?

It boils down to tuning out the CB1 receptor.

2. THCV May Help With Type 2 Diabetes And Alleviate Insulin Sensitivity

According to a 2016 study published by the American Diabetes Association, THCV has the potential to regulate glucose levels and improve pancreatic function in patients with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

The sample-set of 62 individuals were given varying combinations of CBD and THCV (or placebo) across 13 weeks to measure THCV’s ability to control glucose levels. 

Finding that

  • “Compared with placebo, THCV significantly decreased fasting plasma glucose”

Ultimately, the researchers concluded that

“THCV could represent a new therapeutic agent in glycemic control in subjects with type 2 diabetes”

3. THCV Against Tremors And Seizures

Parkinson’s Disease


Research based on an animal model published in 2011 suggests that THCV

  • “might be a promising therapy for alleviating symptoms and delaying neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease.” 

Note that these results are based on preclinical rodent models. Yet, the findings clearly spotlight the huge and still untapped therapeutic potential of THCV.

In conclusion, researchers state that THCV has a

  • “promising pharmacological profile for delaying disease progression in PD and also for ameliorating parkinsonian symptoms.”


Epilepsy


A 2010 study with adult rats provides more insights into the potential use of THCV for Epilepsy. 

The research indicates two major points associated with THCV as a treatment for epilepsy. 

Suggesting that THCV may exert “anti-epileptiform and anticonvulsant properties.” Further studies on humans need to be done to determine any health benefits of THCV like these.

4. THCV May Decrease Signs Of Inflammation

GPR55 is regarded as a novel cannabinoid receptor, also known as the orphan receptor or “type 3” cannabinoid receptor targeting inflammation. Its involvement with THCV is still controversial.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry released in-depth research focusing on the complex cannabinoid signaling pathways. Researchers highlight that “CB1 receptor antagonists can act both as agonists alone and as inhibitors of LPI signaling under the same assay conditions.”

Furthermore, this research paper points out that THCV, along with cannabidivarin, and cannabigerovarin “may represent novel therapeutics targeting GPR55.”

However, more recent data is less conclusive, pointing to less established conclusion.

On a more positive note, an animal study conducted with mice back in 2010 also showcased that THCV decreased signs of inflammation in mice. 

As a proxy, researchers believe that the compound may also help with inflammation-associated pain.

THCV Side Effects

All in all, THCV is well tolerated in adults, according to current research.

However, at this point in time, the available studies on tetrahydrocannabivarin and its possible side effects aren’t fully known yet.

As such, always consult with a qualified physician before using THCV, especially if you are taking any prescription medications, have preexisting conditions, or any health concerns.

Cannabinoids can interact with prescribed drugs, and this may lead to unwanted side effects.

Is THCV Legal? 

Just like the case with Delta 8 THC, hemp-derived THCV falls into a gray area of the law, in line with the 2018 Farm Bill.

When it’s extracted from hemp and is a phytocannabinoid, its legality remains undefined on the federal level.THCV products on medical dispensary shelves will need a medical cannabis card for access.

Do keep in mind that state laws may vary, so always do your own diligence.

High THCV Strains 


As a rule of thumb, most cannabis strains contain only trace amounts of THCV. 

Also, pure THCV is not widely available on the market yet. At the time of writing, there’s only a couple of trusted brands that offer THCV. But, this is blended in with other cannabinoids, including CBD.

Due to the growing popularity of this unique cannabinoid, we’re bound to see more products on dispensary shelves. In the meantime, you can start hunting for more high THCV strains.

How to find a great cannabis flower with high THCV content?

So far, it’s been established that this cannabinoid is most abundant in landrace Sativa cannabis strains.

However, you don’t necessarily need to limit your search to African sativas. Experts keep working with the genetics of different strains to produce hybridized high THCV strains.

One such example is Durban Poison. This strain originates in South Africa but is further refined through the combination with skunk varieties born in the legendary ganja-friendly Netherlands.

But are there any other high THCV strains? Yup..

Here’s a neat cheat sheet to help you get more of the high THCV cannabis flower power.

  • Pink Boost Goddess
  • Pineapple Purps
  • Red Congolese
  • Doug’s Varin
  • Willie Nelson
  • Durban Poison
  • Durban Cheese
  • Power Plant
  • Skunk #1
  • Jack the Ripper

Wrapping Up 

Once upon a time, THC and CBD were the most popular cannabinoids. But they represent just a fraction of the rich genetic inheritance that the ancient ganja plant possesses.

Due to its energizing qualities and potential in fighting obesity, THCV holds promise to change the game.

For people who dislike the traditional THC high and the associated munchies, THCV can offer a whole different type of vibe. The mental clarity THCV is said to provide is also a great asset.

Above all, remember to always medicate and recreate responsibly. Dosage matters, and so does opting for quality, tested products. 

As the Hemp-derived THCV market remains rather unregulated, it’s crucial that we move in baby steps.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will THCV Fail A Drug Test?

Yes, THCV use may lead to you failing a drug test. 

This is because drug test screens look for THC metabolites. THCV & THCV both break down to the same metabolites, thus making it impossible to decipher the difference.

Consequently, THCV can be detected in urine for about 3 days and up to a month after consumption. 

Hair follicle drug tests can detect THC metabolites for up to 90 days after use.

Is THCV Psychoactive?

Yes, THCV is a psychoactive cannabinoid. 

But, THCV does not get you high quite like THC. With a small dosage, the psychoactive effects of THCV may or may not lead to an impairment of cognitive function depending on several metabolic factors. 

Regardless, you should take the same safety precautions as if you were consuming THC (i.e. no driving, heavy machinery).

What Is A THCV High Like?

At low doses, the THCV high is typically non-intoxicating. 

Anecdotal reports suggest that it hits with a boost in energy, higher motivation, and alertness, as well as feelings of euphoria. 

If you take a lot of THCV, though, this will lead to a psychoactive buzz quite similar to THC.

Users who are looking forward to using THCV to promote weight loss should be mindful of inaccurate dosing.
In higher doses, this cannabinoid can induce munchies rather than suppressing appetite, defeating the desire to lose weight!

Can You Vape THCV?

Yes, you can vape THCV. 
 
However, note that it has a higher boiling point than THC. So, you’ll want to vape it by using your device at a higher temperature.