THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin): Effects, Benefits & More

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) Header

This post is part of a series on cannabis compounds. For more information and a listing of all other cannabinoids, see our Cannabis Compounds overview.

Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabivarin also known as THCV is the propyl homolog of Δ9-THC. This cannabinoid typically occurs in only small amounts in the cannabis plant. The compound is given the "varin" suffix because it is a member of the propyl group of cannabinoids in the CBGVA line. The molecular structure of THCV is similar to THC, yet the compound offers a vastly different set of effects and therapeutic uses.THCV Molecule

Activity: Mixed Psychoactivity
Formula: C19H26O2
Molecular Mass: 286.415 g/mol 
Boiling Point: 220 °C (428 °F) 

THCV is synthesized through the propyl line of cannabinoids. Originating with CBGVA, then forming as THCVA and finally transitioning into THCV under exposure to heat. This phytocannabinoid is found in only trace amounts in cannabis because it is found in a lesser proportion to the amount of THC that any given strain contains.

Is THCV Psychoactive?

Unlike THC's well known, predictable psychoactive effects, THCV tells an entirely different story. THC's high is produced due to the compound's activation of the  CB1 receptors in the body's endocannabinoid system. This story remains consistent through an increased dose - meaning that consuming more THC will result in a generally stronger high.

THCV, on the other hand, tells a much more complicated story. Research from 2008 helped uncover the dose-dependent activity of the molecule:

At low doses, the compound acts as a CB1 antagonist. This means that the compound does not activate the receptor and instead even counteracts the effects of CB1 agonists. In lamens terms, THCV in low doses has been observed to be non-psychoactive, even reducing the psychoactive effects of THC. In a dose-dependent contradiction, high doses of THCV have been observed to be an agonist of CB1 and CB2 receptors.

THCV's Relationship with THC

Anecdotally THCV has been observed to create energizing, clear-headed, short-duration highs. Early research cited the potency at only 25% of THC, but in practice, the relationship between the two compounds looks to be much more complex. THCV has been observed to influence specific aspects of THC ingestion.

THCV is reported to enhance the euphoric aspect of a THC high. Research shows that THCV inhibited some well-known effects of THC while increasing others. For example, when taken in tandem, the THC induced heart rate rise was reduced, the overall high was observed to be less intense, and the short-term memory loss aspects were lessened.

These early findings don't provide a statistically significant picture of the relationship between these compounds, but they do point to a complex relationship that is worth studying more. Understanding cannabinoid relationships like these will help further expand our knowledge and effective application of the entourage effect.

What Are the Benefits of THCV?

This compound has been observed through recent research to provide a small range of therapeutic health benefits:

  • Appetite Suppressant - This compound has been observed to contain hypophagic properties, reducing food intake behavior in mice. The results point to the compound's potential use as a weight loss supplement. This could help in the treatment of diabetes by helping to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance.
  • Anticonvulsant - Similar to other cannabinoids, this compound has been studied to prevent or reduce the severity of seizures, epileptic fits, and otheconvulsionsns.
  • Anti-Inflammatory & Pain Relief - Through activation of the CB1/CB2 receptors (in larger doses) this compound has been shown to decrease signs of inflammation and inflammatory pain in mice.
  • Treatment of Parkinsons Disease - The antioxidant properties of Δ(9)-THCV and its ability to activate CB2 but to block CB1 receptors shows a promising pharmacological profile for delaying disease progression of Parkinson's disease and for alleviating associated symptoms.
  • Stimulate Bone Formation - Several cannabinoids including THCV have been shown to stimulate bone nodule formation.
  • Reduce Panic Attacks & PTSD - Data points to the compound's ability to curb anxiety attacks in PTSD cases.
  • Alzheimers - This molecule may reduce tremors, improve motor control, and help heal brain lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease, though research is still ongoing.

Where Can You Find THCV?

The easiest way to find this molecule is to look for it's neighboring psychoactive cannabinoid. In practice, this means that THCV is found in sativa strains with higher THC. For medical marijuana users, keep an eye out for strains like Doug's Varin, Pineapple Purps, Durban Pois, and other sativas.

In the non-psychoactive CBD product space, this means that the most you'll run into are trace amounts of THCV. If you're setting out to find this compound, we suggest you look through lab reports for concentrated, high potency CBD products. You can find some low THCV levels in these products if you look around.

Until further research and novel ways to isolate the molecule are uncovered, this cannabinoid will be thought of as playing a supporting role in the cannabis ensemble.

Originally Published: September 17, 2018 | Last Updated: October 2, 2018

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