It’s becoming clear that the cannabis plant is about more than just the CBD and THC cannabinoids. Recently, a whole group of secondary cannabinoids have been making their mark in the legal hemp scene, including tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).
THCV is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that occurs naturally in cannabis and hemp plants. Users report that THCV only produces a “high” in extremely high doses. THCV is also associated with enhanced energy levels, bone growth, fewer panic attacks and appetite suppression.
If this is the first time you’ve heard about THCV, we’ve got a lot to tell you about! In this guide, we’ll go through the best THCV strains, delve deeper into the compound’s potential benefits, and discuss the most effective ways to use it.
What is THCV?
THCV is a cannabinoid. Cannabis and hemp contains a few different types of compounds, including flavonoids and terpenes, but it’s the cannabinoids that make the plant special. THCV is one of more than 100 cannabinoids that have been identified. Research suggests that THCV acts in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) as a CB1 receptor antagonist and a CB2 receptor partial agonist.
Exploring THCV’s benefits
Unfortunately, we don’t have anywhere near enough studies yet to make any definitive medicinal claims about THCV. In fact, there’s even less research on this cannabinoid than THC and CBD. Frustratingly, cannabis science has been stifled over recent decades due to legal restrictions. However, from the available studies, we can hint at some potential therapeutic effects of THCV.
Cannabis is known for giving people the “munchies”, but studies show that THCV has the opposite effect. THCV’s appetite suppression properties may make the cannabinoid a useful natural weight loss agent.
Fewer panic attacks
Some research points toward THCV helping with panic attacks and anxiety. THCV may reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), by alleviating stress without suppressing natural human emotions. Interestingly, THC has also been touted as a potential PTSD remedy.
Reduced diabetes risk
Studies show that THCV can help to regulate the body’s blood sugar levels, which could help people with diabetes. Research suggests THCV can also reduce insulin resistance. Insulin production is important for people who suffer from type 2 diabetes.
Promotes bone growth
THCV, like other cannabinoids, appears to stimulate bone growth. Research shows that, as an agonist of the CB2 receptor, THCV may combat the symptoms of osteoporosis. However, take this with a pinch of salt for now, since no studies have confirmed a direct link between THCV and osteoporosis.
May combat Alzheimer’s
CBD has been mooted as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, and THCV is getting the same billing. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that irreversibly destroys memory and thinking skills over time, rendering even the easiest tasks impossible for those who suffer from it. Preliminary studies suggest that THCV combats brain lesions, motor control issues and tremors.
5 best THCV strains
THCV is not a particularly common cannabinoid, and is not the most dominant cannabinoid in any of these strains. The term “THCV strains” refers to strains with unusually high levels of THCV, rather than strains that have more THCV than any other cannabinoid.
This South African strain is perhaps the best-known THCV strain on the market today. Durban Poison has up to 1% THCV, and first made it to American shores in the 1970s. This is an invigorating strain, and great if you are looking for an energizing and focus-enhancing cannabis experience. Durban Poison also helps to reduce appetite.
Girl Scout Cookies
This is another famous cannabis strain with oddly high levels of THCV. Girl Scout Cookies boasts a gorgeous sugar-sweet flavor, and tends toward relaxation over invigoration. This delightful hybrid will help quell your anxiety, control your appetite and reduce pain levels, whether it’s morning, noon or night.
Pink Boost Goddess
This is a popular cannabis strain because, thanks to the THCV, it doesn’t give you the munchies. Pink Boost Goddess is an unconventional indica hybrid, with THCV levels in excess of 4%. Intriguingly, some say that the appetite suppression effects of this strain work better on women than men, which may explain the “goddess” name. All we know is this strain will give you a great high without making you hungry.
The consensus in the cannabis scene is that Doug’s Varin has more THCV than any other strain, with anywhere between 3 to 6%. This highly psychoactive flower originates from the CBD-rich Harlequin strain, and was originally cultivated by accident. Nowadays, Doug’s Varin is often found in concentrated form, in vape cartridges and tincture oils.
Lab tests show that Pineapple Purps contains as much as 4% THCV, putting it among the most potent THCV strains available today. This fruity sativa is extremely energizing, and a cross between Skunk #1 and the British favorite Cheese. Pineapple Purps is, unsurprisingly, very citrusy, and has an earthy underbelly. This tasty strain is a great one to start your morning with.
Side effects of THCV
THCV has few known side effects, although this may be due to the lack of research. However, experts advise against taking THCV – and any other cannabinoids – during pregnancy or breastfeeding. There isn’t enough evidence on the effects, but researchers do know that breastmilk contains endocannabinoids, so it’s feasible that THCV triggers unhelpful interactions.
Given THCV is a popular appetite suppressant and cannabinoid for weight loss, it has the potential to be a double-edged sword. Those with eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, should avoid taking THCV.
Is THCV legal?
There is some confusion over THCV’s legal status in the United States. In states where recreational marijuana is legal, there are no question marks over THCV’s legality. But things get a little bit more complicated with federal law.
Technically, any cannabinoids from marijuana are illegal in the United States due to the plant’s Schedule 1 classification in the Controlled Substances Act. However, federal law has become contradictory following the legalization of hemp, in the Farm Bill.
Per the 2018 version of the Farm Bill, hemp (which in reality is just a type of cannabis) and its compounds are legal, so long as the plant doesn’t have more than 0.3% THC (dry weight). There’s no mention of THCV, so providing a THCV-containing product has less than 0.3% THC, we can assume it is legal under the Farm Bill. That said, it’s possible things change in the future.
How to use THCV
You probably won’t find any cannabinoid products that just feature THCV. However, the compound is increasingly taking a complementary role in CBD and THC-rich products. If you do find THCV in any of the following products, here’s how to use them.
THCV vape cartridges
Enjoy THCV’s effects in record time with vape cartridges. As we’ve discussed, THCV-rich strains like Doug’s Varin are often found in e-liquid form. Cannabis-based vape cartridges are generally super potent, and take effect within seconds, thanks to inhalation. This route of administration is matched only by smoking for speed.
Cartridges are recommended if you want a powerful THCV-inspired high, without the pungent smell or negative health effects that come from smoking. Vape juices also work well for those who need high dosages to ease acute discomfort, such as neuropathic pain.
THCV tincture oils
Tincture oils are a popular option for those who like to self-medicate with cannabinoids. Tincture oils rapidly administer THCV’s effects into the bloodstream through a process called sublingual absorption. Simply apply a few drops of oil under the tongue, give the sublingual glands a minute or two to absorb the cannabinoids, and then swallow. You should start experiencing the effects within a few minutes.
THCV tinctures are the best product choice if you need the benefits quickly, but aren’t prepared to risk your health by smoking or vaping a flower or e-liquid product.
Edibles are much different to other cannabis-based products, due to the slower onset of effects. Whereas tinctures and vape juices get to work within minutes, edible effects can take an hour or more to show. But good things come to those who wait, and edibles commonly last for six to eight hours.
Even better, THCV edibles are completely discreet, with no distinguishable aroma. And since edibles are split up into even servings (e.g. gummies, chocolate squares) you have complete control over your dosage, right down to the milligram.
THCV vs THC
THC is the most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis, and can reach levels of 20% or more – something THCV can only dream of. THCV can’t provide such an intense high on its own, but it can help supercharge a psychoactive experience. And as we’ve seen, in some cases, it can take care of the munchies. Some may love this aspect, while others consider getting the munchies an integral part of the cannabis high.
In closing, it’s not so much about choosing between THC and THCV, but whether you want to bring THCV into your experience. If you’re ready for a really, really strong and energizing high, then dive right in with Doug’s Varin or Girl Scout Cookies. If that intensity doesn’t appeal to you, then just stick with the strains you know and love.