THCV: Questions & Answers

👍🏼 What is THCV, and what is it good for?
THCV has a similar chemical structure to THC, and taking either leads to similar effects. The potential medical use of this cannabinoid is under thorough investigation.
🌈 Does THCV get you high?
It might. In small amounts, THCV is not intoxicating, and it can reduce some side effects of THC. However, higher doses of THCV can produce a stimulating psychoactive effect, which is similar to that offered by THC.
⚖️ Is THCV legal?
The legality of THCV is not explicitly clear. For the most part, however, Its similarity with THC makes its possession illegal wherever cannabis is illegal.
🌱 What strains are high in THCV?
African sativas and their descendants are the richest in THCV, but they’re not the only ones. For instance,
Royal Cookies (Durban Poison), Mother Gorilla (Jack the Ripper), Power Flower (Power Plant) and Skunk XL (Skunk #1) are all strains with significant amounts of THCV.

What Is THCV?

THCV and THC have similar molecular structures and, to an extent, effects. However, THCV possesses unique biochemical properties that cause different interactions with our body. These interactions, as it turns out, may have several clinical benefits. While research is still being done on the potential uses, this cannabinoid may become a key part of new treatments for a variety of health issues.

Where Does THCV Come From?

The origins of THCV look similar to the major cannabinoids, but there are different compounds involved. THCV begins its journey as cannabigerovarin acid (CBGV-A), one of the two precursor cannabinoids.

The other, of course, is CBGA, which is the precursor to THC, CBD, and CBC.

Just as CBGA is broken down, CBGV-A is converted into THCV-A (tetrahydrocannabivarin acid) through the action of enzymes. THCV-A is then converted to THCV through the process known as decarboxylation. That, in short, is the act of heating it up or exposing it to sunlight.

What's The Difference Between THCV And THC?

Chemically, the main thing that distinguishes THCV from THC is the presence of a 3-carbon group instead of a 5-carbon group in its molecular structure.

As far as effects, THCV can be just as psychoactive as THC, producing a high that can be even more intense and psychedelic than the latter, although for a shorter time.

Both THC and THCV are active on the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 and CB2 receptors. At low doses, however, THCV acts as an antagonist of the CB1 receptors, instead of being an agonist like THC. This means that small amounts of THCV may reduce the psychotropic effect of THC. Low doses may also counteract negative THC side effects like anxiety, paranoia, increased heart rate, and even excess appetite. At higher doses, however, THCV becomes an agonist for CB1 receptors (just like THC), thus being psychoactive itself.

THCV’s boiling point is a decent 220 °C (428 °F), and higher than THC. This has to be taken into account when vaping high-THCV concentrates, as the high temperature might cause other cannabinoids and terpenes to burn off.

What's The Difference Between THCV And THC?

What Are THCV’s Effects?

Research on THCV is more limited than that on other cannabinoids. Just like many other members of this chemical family, THCV binds to receptors located in different organs and systems, such as the brain and the immune system. This interaction, in turn, may have a number of beneficial impacts on our body.

Research published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, for instance, suggests it might act as an appetite suppressant[1], possibly regulating the reward and aversion mechanisms in the brain that are connected to obesity and eating disorders.

The researchers conducted a double-blind study on healthy volunteers, measuring the neural response to rewarding and aversive food-related stimulation using both magnetic resonance imaging and volunteers’ subjective rating. THCV, in low doses (and as a CB1 antagonist, in turn) was able to increase their neural responses to aversive stimulation, while diminishing responses to food rewards. These results, while they need further research to back them, suggest a possible therapeutic application for THCV against obesity.

Furthermore, THCV might contribute in regulation of blood sugar levels mechanisms[2], as a study on diabetes patients indicated that THCV significantly decreased fasting plasma glucose in type 2 diabetes patients, also improving pancreatic function.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled tests on 62 diabetes patients used different ratios of THCV and CBD to assess changes in cholesterol concentrations, insulin sensitivity, liver triglyceride content, and other key health markers. As detailed in the study, THCV improved function across the board, only leaving plasma HDL unaltered. These findings, while they, again, need to be backed up with future research, indicate THCV could eventually be a new glycemic control agent for type 2 diabetes.

Finally, a study aimed to test the effects of THCV on psychotic[3] conditions was conducted in vivo on rats, and in vitro on both rats and human cells cultures.

The study found the cannabinoid reduced stereotyped behavior, decreased time spent immobile in the forced swim test, and normalized hyperactivity, social behavior and cognitive performance in rats. The results in vitro also showed the cannabinoid enhancing 5-HT₁A receptor activation, thus partly inhibiting the action of the neurodegenerative artificial agent.

This study needs further confirmations by more lab research, and possibly by clinical tests on patients. However, these positive results already bode well for a possible THCV’s ability to improve and reduce the devastating cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia in humans.

What Are THCV’s Effects?

Does THCV Make You High?

Very few studies on the psychological effects of THCV are available today. However, our current understanding tells us the effects of the THCV molecule vary depending on the dose.

Similarly to CBD, low doses of THCV can reduce some of the typical effects of THC, while it can produce euphoric states of mind at higher ones, setting in quickly and fading faster than THC. In turn, most strains rich in THCV are described as inducing a short high with explosive intensity, all without any significant sedative effect.

THCV Potential Benefits

While today’s lab results aren’t proof of valid clinical applications, THCV’s main potential lies in suppressing appetite and reducing anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Many more studies, combined with user experiences reports, are needed to confirm any of the potential benefits.

Is THCV Legal? Will THCV Show Up On a Drug Test?

The legality of THCV is unclear in many countries. THCV is not scheduled by the international Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but it might be considered an equivalent of THC because of its similar molecular structure. In turn, if you’re in a less weed-tolerant country, you could be easily prosecuted for possessing it.

There are no specific drug tests for THCV, and whether THCV might be revealed by a drug test is not totally clear. The usually-low presence of THCV in cannabis strains does not make this cannabinoid useful as a viable indicator of cannabis use[4]. Consequently, a drug test should not mistake THCV for THC, but we can’t say for sure.

Where To Find THCV

As it stands, most common strains contain less than 1% THCV, which makes this cannabinoid expensive to extract in large quantities. Higher THCV amounts have been found in descendant strains of pure sativa landraces from Africa and Nepal.

Breeding hemp strains that are high in THCV and low in THC is one of the new challenges for cannabis breeders, while a few strains are now specially bred to contain higher THCV and THC levels. You can look for pure sativa genetics when you want to pick a strain for THCV, but remember that cannabinoid content can vary from harvest to harvest. In turn, note that growing setups that simulate tropical climates have more chances to yield more THCV.

Strains like Durban Poison, Jack the Ripper, and the rare Doug's Varin all possess some of the highest amounts of THCV. African sativas like Power Flower (a progeny of Jack the Ripper like Mother Gorilla), or descendants of Durban Poison (like Royal Cookies) should also develop notable amounts of THCV. However, only Doug’s Varin was specifically bred for THCV. Consequently, there are no THCV isolates, or pure THCV extracts, on the market yet.

Is There A Future For THCV?

The interest in THCV keeps rising, yet studying the effects of this cannabinoid is made difficult by scarcity and obsolete laws.

THCV clearly shows potential for medical use, although, as with other cannabinoids, much more research is needed. THCV might also be a new recreational substance by itself, while it might not be the best choice for those looking to avoid any kind of high.

Will this cannabinoid become as popular as the main two in the future? That’s hard to tell, but we’re excited about the future.

External Resources:
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4438540/pdf/pyu094.pdf
  2. Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabivarin on Glycemic and Lipid Parameters in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Group Pilot Study - PubMed https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  3. The phytocannabinoid, Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabivarin, can act through 5-HT₁A receptors to produce antipsychotic effects - PubMed https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  4. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabivarin testing may not have the sensitivity to detect marijuana use among individuals ingesting dronabinol https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Disclaimer:
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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