What is THCV: Everything You Need to Know About This Cannabinoid.

The Cannabis plant is home to over a hundred cannabinoids. Of those, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have hogged much of the limelight. That is mostly because of their therapeutic benefits and the large body of research to prove it.

The curiosity about cannabis and its compounds, however, is never-ending. With better research, more cannabinoids are being made accessible to consumers. One such lesser-known cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). Its ability to impart energy and potentially help suppress appetite in consumers has earned it the epithet of the “sports car” of cannabinoids.

What is THCV?

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a less popular co-inhabitant of the cannabis plant, alongside CBD and THC. It has its own set of benefits and effects on the human body that help it stand apart from the other popularly known cannabinoids.

Though discovered in the 1970s, this cannabinoid is still in the shadows. However, years of research have gone into creating an outline that has led to its newfound popularity.

Does THCV Get You High?

THCV does get you high. But there is a catch.

In smaller amounts and lower potency, it will not bring about any euphoric or hallucinogenic effect. For such effects to take place, the quantity of the consumed substance must be big.

In large doses, it helps with mental stimulation and clarity of thought. Its euphoric potency is somewhat like that of Cannabinol (CBN). The effect of THCV comes and goes at a rather fast speed — hence the “sports car” moniker.

Does THCV Have Any Benefits?

THCV is a desirable alternative for consumers who wish to be out of the hallucinogenic zone as quickly as they enter it. At the outset, THCV produces energy-stimulating effects in the body. It gets you high. Then, just as quickly as it popped up, the psychoactive effect of THCV vanishes into thin air. Apart from this, THCV has its share of benefits to human health.

Obesity and weight loss

THCV may help suppress appetite. This is the reason THCV is said to have anti-obesity properties. THCV functions along the same lines as the anti-obesity drug rimonabant and poses as an antagonist to CB1 receptors in the body. Even in low doses of 5–7.5 mg, THCV can block the path of CB1 receptors, thereby curbing your appetite.

However, THCV’s ability to reduce appetite hasn’t been extensively studied. Certain areas in the brains of obese individuals lose connectivity due to their physical condition. THCV steps in here. It helps mend the fractured connectivity and thereby aids in weight loss.

Remember, however, that all research conducted on THCV’s weight loss abilities focuses on lower doses. A high dose of THCV will get you high. And it might act as an impetus to boosting your appetite in return.

Diabetes

THCV also comes to the rescue of diabetics. There is evidence to corroborate this claim. A study conducted in 2013 and led by ET Wargent on mice with Type 2 diabetes, published in the Nutrition and Diabetes Journal, came to this conclusion. An increase in energy and insulin sensitivity was seen.

The study also shed light on how THCV helps decimate glucose intolerance resulting from obesity. In another study conducted in 2016 by Khalid A Jadoon and others on 62 diabetes patients unaccustomed to insulin, CBD and THCV were introduced into the bodies of the subjects in stipulated proportions. The results showed an improvement in the pancreatic cells and their functions.

Anti-inflammatory

Like most cannabinoids, THCV, too, is instrumental in controlling inflammation. With an increase in age and stress levels, various inflammation-related complaints start troubling the human body. THCV helps stave off these.

In a study by E. Rzepa and others in 2015 carried by The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, THCV was found to reduce the intensity of swelling in mice, with zero intolerance despite four days of spontaneous administration of THCV into their bodies.

In yet another study conducted in 2013 on mice, D. Bolognini and others concluded that THCV helps activate CB2 receptors and aids in suppressing inflammation, too. It is through this interaction of THCV with CB2 and CB1 receptors that inflammation-related pain is significantly reduced.

Tremors and seizures

Multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease bring with them a host of tremors. THCV is anticonvulsant and effective in controlling these tremors. The usefulness of THCV also extends to the seizures brought about by epilepsy. The frequency and intensity of epilepsy-related seizures are both decimated by the administration of THCV.

A study was conducted on rats by Andrew J. Hill and others in 2010 to detect the effect of THCV on seizures. The researchers concluded that THCV has a significant influence on CB1 receptors and can bring hyperexcitability under control.

Apart from these effects, THCV is also known to promote bone cell growth and suppress anxiety.

How Does THCV Work?

THCV vs THC

The only similarity between THC and THCV is that both are euphoria-inducing compounds and can get you high. THCV can reduce appetite and is preferable for those suffering from obesity. Even in low doses, it can suppress appetite. THCV is also touted to improve connectivity to certain parts of the brain which are otherwise out of reach in the case of obese patients.

THC, however, doesn’t function similarly. The euphoria caused by THC is much more potent than the one by THCV. In fact, THCV counteracts the high caused by THC and helps those who don’t desire the pinnacle of euphoria.

Like all cannabinoids, THCV can also be measured with the help of potency tests, like LCUV and High-Performance Liquid Chromatography with UV detection.

Where Does THCV Occur?

THC, CBD, and THCV are all cannabinoids occurring naturally in the cannabis plant. Despite the similarities in their chemical structures, THC and THCV differ in the synthesis. As a result, they are produced as by-products.

The CBGA (cannabigerolic) synthesis leads to the production of THC and CBD, whereas the CBGVA (cannabigerovarin) synthesis gives birth to THCV. This CGBVA first transforms to THCVA and, finally, to THCV under conditions of heat and light.

It is mostly derived from the pure sativa strains of cannabis plants inhabiting the Asian countries of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Thailand, and China, besides the African continent.

However, cannabis breeders continue to explore new ways to increase THCV yield by experimenting with different strains and cultivars of cannabis plants.

This obviously indicates that genetics play a major role in determining the THCV content of a cannabis plant. However, you could also confirm it by checking with the lab reports of a specific product.

How does THCV work in the body?

The human body owes a host of its functions to the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is instrumental in maintaining appetite, reproductive health, and balance in the body.

Two receptors, namely CB1 and CB2, embedded in this system interact with THCV to impart therapeutic effects to the body, like most other cannabinoids.

CB1 and CB2 receptors are found in the entire human body. However, they are most prevalent in the nervous system and immune system, respectively. THCV interferes with THC functions such as mental highs and the desire for munchies. This function comes about due to the antagonistic effect of THCV on the CB1 receptor.

However, when ingested in larger doses, the effects of THCV and THC are identical in the human body. Both produce a euphoric high and induce therapeutic relief.

Other THCV faqs

THCV is still in the shadows. Its complete range of effects is still beyond the understanding of mankind. Hence, it is not a scheduled controlled substance in the US. Moreover, it has completely different effects on the body compared to THC despite being molecularly similar. Only THCV from hemp plants with trace quantities of THC—as low as less than 0.3%—are allowed.

What does THCV cost per kilo?

THCV is rare and hence bores a hole in the pocket. According to some reliable estimates, 35% of THCV retails for $30,000 per kilogram. In distillate forms, the prices can catapult to as high as a whopping $40,000 per kilogram.

Is THCV water-soluble?

Naturally, THCV is not soluble in water but in oil. However, science has found a solution to this problem. THCV is broken down into nanoparticles through advanced mechanical processes. These nanoparticles happily dissolve in water. These solutions are called nano-emulsions.

What is THCV’s boiling point?

THCV boils at an extremely high temperature of 428 degrees Fahrenheit!

That is a lot higher than the boiling point of THC. The high boiling point can be both a boon and a problem to manufacturers trying to produce THCV products.

If you want THCV in edible products, this high boiling point comes to your rescue. However, most terpenes and flavonoids are turned into vapor by the time THCV reaches boiling point. This creates a problem if you are producing an edible that’d require the substances that have already been vaporized.

THCV potency and testing?

THCV, CBD, and THC are similarly tested for their potencies. High-performance liquid chromatography is used, in which UV light absorbance helps detect the relative abundance in the molecules.

How can people extract THCV?

THCV is present in trace quantities in its parent plant. This makes its extraction both tedious and expensive. But there’s no special method for its extraction.

Like all other cannabinoids, THCV is extracted from the plant by using a superfluid liquid solvent such as ethanol or CO2. This process is termed “chromatography”. This solvent with the extracted THCV is subjected to high temperatures under pressure. The gas vaporizes. Pure THCV is left behind. This THCV should then be protected from heat to maintain its potency. It is best kept at room temperature.

Why does THCV matter?

THCV has the potential to become the cannabis industry’s next big thing. Its appetite-reducing, weight-loss, and anti-inflammatory properties – as well as its ability to produce mild euphoria – make it highly desirable.

However, the production of THCV is limited. This is the gap that private companies could fill. They can increase their THCV production and make a dent in the CBD market.

THCV can be found in different cannabis strains, such as Harmony, Flow Kana Pink Boost Goddess, Pineapple Purps, Malawi, Power Plant, Willie Nelson, Red Congolese, Jack the Ripper, Durban Cheese, Skunk #1, Durban Poison, Cherry Pie, etc.

It’s usually found in full-spectrum hemp products, such as flower buds, pre-rolls, oils, tinctures, waxes, vapes, distillates, raw extracts, and even edible products.

Summing Up

THCV has everything that a person fearful of THC would dare to venture. Those who were driven away by the high-euphoria-causing prowess of THC could gravitate towards its less intoxicating cousin, THCV.

It starts showing a positive impact at lower levels. It helps suppress appetite and aids in weight loss, which is a much sought-after quality in the modern world. It amplifies energy levels and gives clarity to mental processes. All these properties could make THCV the next big star in the cannabis world.

Nevertheless, it is a minor cannabinoid and requires a lot of resources to procure and utilize in making products. Besides, very few strains can produce significant amounts of THCV – at least for now.

But let’s hope for the sake of its benefits, more and more companies would step on the pedal and make it available to the masses.

Ministry of Hemp is America's leading hemp advocate.

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