Cannabis research is now beginning to extend beyond CBD and THC, with the beneficial properties of other cannabinoids now starting to make the headlines. Recently, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) has had the cannabis community talking – this compound is supposedly very psychoactive but has a wealth of therapeutic properties.
This cannabinoid is one of the most common (there are more than 100), which shows how our current cannabis knowledge is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some key facts about THCV, a cannabinoid which may help you control your weight.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) explained
Out of the 400-plus compounds found in cannabis, the cannabinoids are thought to be the most useful. But with so many to study, scientists have barely scratched the surface with most of them. Current research suggests that cannabinoids are mostly unique to cannabis, however some plants have compounds that also interact with the endocannabinoid system, and a South African flower has been found to contain cannabigerol (CBG), a fairly common cannabinoid.
THCV is one of the lesser-studied cannabinoids that is beginning to receive the attention it warrants. For recreational users, it’s a nice complementary cannabinoid to THC. In low doses, THCV may work to reduce the psychoactive high from THC.
However, in high doses, THCV may produce an effect very similar to THC, if further research confirms that the cannabinoids join up with the same receptors in the brain and body.
While THCV is only 25 percent as strong as THC, this cannabinoid has a significant influence on the overall high. Some researchers think that the energizing cerebral effects of sativa strains should be thanks to THCV.
Assessing THCV research
Researchers are more focussed on THCV than perhaps any other cannabinoid besides THC and CBD. This cannabinoid is potentially very medically beneficial, if the laboratory investigations and trials we have so far are accurate.
A cannabis-minded pharmaceutically company is breeding strains that can produce higher quantities of THCV. But these strains haven’t made it onto the market just yet.
THCV could help with many ailments, mostly those that it’s already thought cannabis could be useful for. THCV is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It also exhibits antioxidant properties. But there are several other strands of THCV research that scientists are hoping to expand on.
1) Convulsive disorders
Many cannabinoids have been scientifically proven to help reduce epileptic convulsions and seizures. Conveniently, the compounds that help most with seizures are THC and CBD. But new research suggests that THCV may produce an anti-convulsant effect as well.
THCV has been found to reduce seizures in rodents, and this could be thanks to the cannabinoid’s interactions in the nervous system. THCV’s bonds with CB1 and CB2 receptors are critical, as these are the receptors that are thought to calm overexcitement in the brain. Too much brain activity is part of why epilepsy occurs.
2) Weight management
Animal studies have found that THCV may have some appetite suppressant effect and work to reduce total foot intake. The IACM 4th Conference on Cannabinoids, which was held in 2007, featured a study on the effects of THCV in mice. The group that were given only THCV consumed less food than the rodents that weren’t treated.
However, when both THC and THCV were administered together, the rodents weight remained unchanged, and their appetite levels stayed the same. Some CBD products studies have shown the cannabinoid may reduce appetite, but it appears that THCV only works as an appetite suppressant when not in the presence of THC.
The research on THCV and CBD could be of interest to recreational smokers – if these compounds decrease your appetite, they may stop the munchies!
3) Parkinson’s Disease
Animal experiments have identified THCV as a potential treatment for the neurodegenerative disease Parkinson’s. The British Journal of Pharmacology published a study in 2011 that investigated the beneficial effect THCV had on motor function in rats. The rodents were administered a substance that gave them an experimental type of Parkinson’s.
We know that THCV can block off some of the cannabinoid receptors that THC would otherwise connect with. Therefore, we can deduce that in the correct dosage, THCV can reduce activity among CB1 receptors. CB1 receptors are the latching points for the compounds that plays a key role in the psychoactive effects of marijuana.
THCV may inhibit CB1 receptors, however it also activates CB2 receptors. While CB1 receptors are mostly found in the central nervous system and brain, CB2 receptors are expressed more in the body’s immune system. Researchers have theorised that THCV could be effective as a Parkinson’s treatment because of the unique influence that the compound has on the endocannabinoid system.
And if this study on rodents is anything to go by, their proposal looks to be spot on. THCV treatment enhanced the motor function of the rats with Parkinson’s, and it also helped to slow the onset of the condition.
Regular THCV doses can help to stop important brain cells from dying off. Stopping these brain cells from dying makes it more difficult for Parkinson’s to manifest.
GW Pharmaceuticals have conducted phase 2 trials on CBD and THCV as treatment for type 2 diabetes. In all, 62 patients took part in the clinical study, which experimented with doses of 100mg CBD and 5mg THCV. The cannabinoids were given separately, and also as a combination with a 20:1 CBD to THCV ratio.
The tests found that CBD and THCV had a positive effect on fasting insulin levels, improved insulin response, reduced inflammation markers, blood glucose levels and blood pressure. These incredibly promising studies may only be the first step, but it demonstrates that cannabinoid therapy could be very efficacious for patients with diabetes.
In 2008, Nutrition & Diabetes published a study showing how mice were similarly affected. THCV did not reduce food intake or weight in mice that were obese for genetic reasons. However, the mice did become more sensitive to insulin because of treatment. THCV’s dose-dependent response on glucose intolerance is of interest, as it indicates that the cannabinoid was most likely to thank for the changes.
Popular THCV-rich strains
The most popular high-THCV strains can be found in Africa, mainly the central and southern regions. THCV strains grow in tropical and subtropical climates, and it’s possible that THCV is present in higher quantities thanks to an adaptation. Strains native to Africa are now found all over the planet and are very noticeable in the Americas.
Any strain with more than 2 percent THCV are classed as being high-THCV, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t flower with much greater concentrations. Doug’s Varin contains around 15 percent THCV.
Unfortunately, THCV strains are quite rare – in the US, California is possibly your best bet of coming across one. Strains that are high in THCV include Black Beauty, Malawi Gold and Durban Poison. Maybe we’ll see more specially bred THCV-rich strains soon – there’s certainly plenty of interest.