Known as the “diet weed” or “weederall,” Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is steadily becoming one of the most popular cannabinoids on the market for its appetite-curbing and energy-boosting properties.
Like many cannabinoids such as CBD or CBN, THCV may not have the same intoxicating effects as THC despite its familiar three letters.
How It Compares With THC
It isn’t easy to give a straight answer.
Anecdotally, people report that THCV can be combined with THC to mitigate [the intoxicating] effect of THC, according to Front Range Biosciences, which is an agricultural biotechnology company that specializes in hemp genetics.
Front Range Biosciences cultivates strains high in THCV. These strains were challenging to grow and process in the past due to low demand and a costly isolating process. THCV is not clear on its own.
THCV can be found in cannabis products along with THC. He adds that THCV can be isolated, purified, and “put into” cannabis products.
Where THCV Comes From
THC’s natural analog is THCV. THCV is a known analog that is correlated with THC, as opposed to THC. It is non-intoxicating and acts as an activator for CB1 and CB2 receptors. THCV, on the other hand, is a CB1 inhibitor or an inverse receptor. It may also function as an agonist or blocker at CB2 receptors.
It is a cannabinoid derived from cannabis plants. THCV is not derived from marijuana but hemp, unlike CBD—making it a naturally existing hemp byproduct.
What Effects Are There?
THCV has several potential side effects. Here are some examples of the research:
THCV may have an opposite effect to the common perception that cannabis increases appetite.
Saorise, Ph.D., is a researcher and scientific adviser at Artelo Biosciences. This company is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company.
This is because THCV could block the CB 1 receptor. O’Sullivan states that the CB 1 receptor is known to stimulate appetite. Therefore, blocking this receptor could [reduce hunger].
A few animal studies support this idea. A 2009 study showed that THCV could reduce food intake and weight gain. A 2013 study showed that it could also reduce the glucose intolerance associated with obesity.
O’Sullivan was the principal author of a human trial examining THCV’s effects in type 2 diabetes patients.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that purified THCV, administered in doses up to 5 mg twice daily over 13 weeks, decreased fasting glucose levels and improved the function of pancreatic beta cells in type 2 diabetics.
However, there were no changes in appetite or body weight for these patients who received THCV treatment compared to the placebo group.
One human study was done in 2015 to determine if a single 10 mg dose of THCV could affect food reward or aversion.
Researchers found that THCV increased brain activation in response to chocolate and aversive stimuli (rotten strawberry). However, it did not appear to alter the ratings of pleasure or desire for the food stimuli.
O’Sullivan says that although the jury is still out about THCV’s appetite-suppressing properties, pre-clinical animal studies suggest there may be a role in THCV’s involvement in a wide range of diseases and disorders, including:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Bacterial Infections
- Fatty liver disease
Although human research on THCV is limited, a small study from 2015 among cannabis users explored its potential to reduce THC’s adverse effects.
According to the authors, 10 mg of THCV could reduce heart rate, subjective feelings of intoxication, and verbal recall problems caused by THC.
Can You Try It?
O’Sullivan believes that THCV is safe and effective, even though there are still many things to learn. In the few human studies that have been done, there were no side effects. The doses used for THCV included up to 10 mg per day and lasted 13 weeks.
However, she notes that some participants felt more tired than usual. If you use a product with THC, you will want to avoid driving. You may want to avoid driving until your doctor has evaluated you.
Before you try any new vitamins or supplements, consult a healthcare professional.
Where Can I Find It?
THCV’s availability is limited.
There is a small number of plants that can produce this compound. They are challenging to grow and low yielding. It’s rare, and the supply chain is weak. It is also expensive.
It has been observed that people are extracting THCV from cannabis plants and infusing it in different manufactured products like edibles or cannabis drinks.
This ultimately opens up the possibility of increased yield and accessibility to supply chains by encouraging growers to produce more THCV.
This also opens up the possibility of more traditional products like flowers or vapes directly made from the plant, as opposed to an edible infused in an isolate.
The Bottom Line
THCV, like most minor cannabinoids, is still poorly studied and under-produced. Fortunately, this is changing thanks to consumer interest.
Be cautious about exaggerating weight loss or other effects of THCV. The research is still very early, particularly regarding its effects on humans.