What is THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)?

THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) is a novel cannabinoid with mild psychoactive effects similar to THC but without the anxious side-effects. THCV, also occasionally called the ‘sports car of cannabinoids’, is a relatively abundant yet little-known cannabinoid. It is a compound that potentially provides people with an array of benefits and unique effects.

There are well over 100 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Most of the focus over the last 50 years has been on THC and CBD — but this doesn’t mean the other contenders don’t have value too. 

Here, we’ll look at one of the more interesting novel cannabinoids in more detail — a compound called tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV, for short). 

This cannabinoid has a mild psychoactive profile and offers a variety of health benefits that range from appetite suppression to stimulating the growth and repair of bone tissue. 

Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about THCV — including where to buy it, how it works, and how to use it safely.

What is THCV?

THCV is best known for its ability to promote clear-headedness and appetite-suppression.

THCV is short for tetrahydrocannabivarin. It’s a cannabinoid produced in both hemp and marijuana plants in tiny amounts (less than 1%).

The difference between THCV and THC is subtle — only two extra carbon atoms in the THC molecule compared to THCV. However, the effects of these two cannabinoids are very different, and THCV is exempt from the limitation placed on plants that contain the highly psychoactive THC molecule.

Even though THCV is not a controlled substance, it has some mild psychoactive effects. The potency of THCV is about 25% as potent as THC.

THCV has become very popular within the past couple of years. It was too difficult to concentrate this cannabinoid into a large enough dose for it to be useful in the past.

Today, modern extraction methods make it easier to concentrate THCV into a usable dose — without costing a fortune. Simultaneously, researchers have been shifting their focus towards some of the more novel cannabinoids like THCV, CBC, CBG, CBN, and others.

While there’s still a lot of research on THCV needed, the results so far have been promising. Studies have shown THCV is a potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and appetite suppressant. Preliminary research has also shown that THCV can stimulate the formation of new bone tissue.

Benefits Of THCV

  • Some African landrace sativa strains are naturally high in THCV
  • Reduces psychoactive effects of THC
  • May reduce insulin-resistance
  • May protect against Parkinson’s disease
  • Prevents acne formation
  • Reduces appetite
  • Protects the brain & nerve cells
  • Appears to stimulate the formation of bone tissue

What’s the Dose of THCV?

THCV research is still in the early stages, so we don’t yet have any clearly defined doses for this particular cannabinoid. So far, evidence suggests the dose of THCV is on-par with CBD and other cannabinoids (5 – 50 mg). 

More research is needed to confirm as there have been few high-level studies exploring the effective dose of THCV in humans.

Early research on any new compound, including THCV, usually uses very high doses. The idea is that we want to see clear benefits or negatives, so the dose used is very high to make sure it causes an effect. This is the same process that was used when identifying the effective dose for CBD in the early days of research. Early studies on CBD are often administered at well over 30 times the standard dose used today.

Animal studies have shown effective doses of THCV ranging from 2 mg/kg all the way up to 30 mg/kg. To put this into context, this dose range works out to around 136 to 2,040 mg for the average 150 lb male.

Compared to CBD or THC, this is as much as 40 times the normal dose.

The effective dose of THCV in humans is likely significantly lower — more than likely to be on-par with other cannabinoids at a dosage range of 5 – 50 mg.

For example, a human study published as recently as 2016 explored the impact of THCV (10 mg) on the side effects of THC [1]. This dose of THCV was strong enough to reduce some of the side effects of THC.

TCHV vs. CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference?

Structurally, THC and THCV are only differentiated by two carbon atoms. However, there are some significant differences in terms of their effects.

For starters, THC is highly psychoactive — producing the characteristic high induced from smoking marijuana. THCV is mildly psychoactive, but it’s substantially weaker than THC and has some different characteristics in terms of effects. Compared to THC, THCV creates a much more clear-headed high. Users report feeling a strong sense of clarity, with some mild visual or auditory changes.

THCV has also been shown to reduce the psychoactive effects of THC itself [1] — likely by competing for the same receptors but causing a weaker response.

Another major difference between THCV and THC is their effects on appetite. THCV is an appetite suppressant — while THC is an appetite stimulant.

Therapeutic Benefits of THCV

There’s been a lot of promising research involving THCV’s effects in recent years — but the research on this cannabinoid is still in its infancy.

Animal studies have shown THCV may be able to lower insulin levels in diabetics [2].

THCV has also been implicated as an anti-acne agent when applied topically [3].

Other studies suggest THCV may possess neuroprotective effects, making it a useful cannabinoid in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease [4].

In vitro (early stages of research) has shown THCV can stimulate collagen and bone formation [5]. Future studies should be done to assess whether these effects apply in animal studies as well. If true, THCV could be a promising treatment option for joint and bone diseases such as arthritis or osteoporosis.

Is THCV Safe?

Like most cannabinoids, THCV is considered safe and non-toxic. There is no LD50 determined for THCV yet, but several animal studies have administered large doses of this cannabinoid without reporting any signs of toxicity.

The main concern with THCV is the appetite suppressant activity. People with existing eating disorders or taking medications that have appetite suppressant side-effects (such as cancer therapies) should avoid THCV products.

Is THCV Psychoactive?

THCV is mildly psychoactive. It appears THCV is about 25% as strong as THC in terms of its psychoactive effects.

Studies have shown THCV is a neutral CB1 agonist — which means it binds to the CB1 receptors that are responsible for causing the high from THC — yet doesn’t activate them.

Sources Cited in This Article

  1. Englund, A., Atakan, Z., Kralj, A., Tunstall, N., Murray, R., & Morrison, P. (2016). The effect of five day dosing with THCV on THC-induced cognitive, psychological, and physiological effects in healthy male human volunteers: a placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover pilot trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 30(2), 140-151.
  2. Wargent, E. T., Zaibi, M. S., Silvestri, C., Hislop, D. C., Stocker, C. J., Stott, C. G., … & Cawthorne, M. A. (2013). The cannabinoid Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) ameliorates insulin sensitivity in two mouse models of obesity. Nutrition & diabetes, 3(5), e68-e68.
  3. Oláh, A., Markovics, A., Szabó‐Papp, J., Szabó, P. T., Stott, C., Zouboulis, C. C., & Bíró, T. (2016). Differential effectiveness of selected non‐psychotropic phytocannabinoids on human sebocyte functions implicates their introduction in dry/seborrhoeic skin and acne treatment. Experimental dermatology, 25(9), 701-707.
  4. Garcia, C., Palomo‐Garo, C., García‐Arencibia, M., Ramos, J. A., Pertwee, R. G., & Fernández‐Ruiz, J. (2011). Symptom‐relieving and neuroprotective effects of the phytocannabinoid Δ9‐THCV in animal models of Parkinson’s disease. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1495-1506.
  5. Scutt, A., & Williamson, E. M. (2007). Cannabinoids stimulate fibroblast colony formation by bone marrow cells indirectly via CB 2 receptors. Calcified Tissue International, 80(1), 50-59.
  6. Deiana, S., Watanabe, A., Yamasaki, Y., Amada, N., Arthur, M., Fleming, S., … & Platt, B. (2012). Plasma and brain pharmacokinetic profile of cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidivarin (CBDV), Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and cannabigerol (CBG) in rats and mice following oral and intraperitoneal administration and CBD action on obsessive-compulsive behavior. Psychopharmacology, 219(3), 859-873.

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