What Is THCV? A Guide to the Cannabinoid
Article written by
Tina MagrabiSenior Content Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
THCV stands for tetrahydrocannabivarin. It is a chemical compound found inside the cannabis plant. There is much interest in THCV as an appetite suppressant and a treatment for weight loss and diabetes. For this reason, THCV has been nicknamed “diet weed.”
Discover THCV’s many potential therapeutic uses, from treating bone injuries to helping people cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Learn how to use this cannabinoid as part of a naturally healthy lifestyle.
Personalized Cannabis Guidance
How THCV Works
THCV is a unique cannabinoid (cannabis chemical) because it has different effects at different dosages. THCV has both non-psychoactive effects and psychoactive effects, depending on the dosage. Low doses of THCV have an anti-psychoactive effect; larger doses have a psychoactive effect.
THCV could be seen as a cannabinoid that’s “in-between” THC and CBD because it shares the same effects as both of these compounds. However, this is an oversimplification, and THCV has much more.
Benefits and Uses
THCV has a biphasic effect, which means it has different effects at different dosages. Many cannabinoids have biphasic effects, including THC and CBD, but THCV displays the meaning behind biphasic.
Depending on the dosage and other factors, THCV may have the following effects:
- Appetite suppression and possibly reversing insulin resistance – low doses – beneficial for obesity and diabetes.
- Energizing – low doses – useful for depression.
- Antipsychotic – low doses.
- Psychoactive – high doses – a more “clear-headed” and less sedative effect than THC.
Furthermore, THCV may effectively manage other medical issues, both minor and major.
Blood Sugar Levels
Studies show that THCV may help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance. Therefore, a combination of THCV and CBD may benefit those with diabetes, whether it is autoimmune-related (Type I diabetes) or overweight (Type II diabetes).
THCV could be of particular use for anxiety and PTSD. Moreover, for those who are prone to anxiety when using THC, a small amount of THCV may reduce the duration of the THC high. A higher dose, however, may increase THC’s psychoactive effects.
THCV does not seem to suppress emotions but does affect the emotions associated with flight or fight response (as do cannabinoids in general). This can be very useful for those who suffer from anxiety and/or PTSD but do not want to experience the flattening of emotions due to antidepressant and benzodiazepine use.
THCV may be used to minimize the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, where the combination of THC and THCV may help reduce inflammation, remove the plaque-causing protein beta-amyloid, and help reduce the anxiety associated with Alzheimer’s. THCV may also have brain-boosting effects combined with the cannabinoids CBD and CBC.
THCV’s ability to help treat conditions like diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease gives it an additional use – that of treating nerve pain. THCV’s broad range of effects on both CB1 and CB2 receptors can make it particularly useful for treating neuropathic (nerve) pain.
THCV may be used for various kinds of cancer, particularly those where too much THC may be an issue (e.g., for estrogen-positive breast cancers). THCV may also be beneficial for treating glioblastomas that occur in the brain and/or spinal cord.
THCV can stimulate bone growth and nodule formation. Because of this ability, THCV is under investigation for the treatment of osteoporosis and arthritis, and THCV may also be useful for the treatment of broken and fractured bones.
Possible Side Effects and Interactions
The most common side effect is that THCV decreases appetite, which is a positive side effect for people seeking to lose body weight.
In addition, THCV may temper some of the potential adverse side effects of THC, including paranoia. Other side effects of THCV have not been extensively documented, and more research is needed.
Cannabinoids like THCV can lead to drug interactions, whether your medication is prescription or over-the-counter. Be sure to consult with your doctor before starting a cannabis regimen to ensure that any other drugs you are taking are compatible with the plant.
How to Use
You have a variety of THCV products to choose from. The cannabinoid is found in full-spectrum cannabis products, such as edibles and oils, and hemp products may also contain THCV.
If you would like to use THCV on its own, you may be able to track down a THCV isolate product. But, as with all other cannabinoids, THCV works better towards achieving the entourage effect when used with a complete range of chemical compounds.
High amounts of THCV with other cannabinoids are likely to have some psychoactivity but will not cause significant intoxication. Some people may utilize THCV with low doses of THC and low or moderate doses of CBD and CBG during the daytime for more mood-enhancing and uplifting effects.
Cannabis Strains High in THCV
Varieties from the equatorial regions, particularly African types, tend to contain more THCV than varieties from other regions. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, but it is known as the Equatorial Theory.
Durban Poison is known for containing high amounts of THCV, and varietals with Durban Poison (e.g., Girl Scout Cookies) are also likely to contain THCV.
Other varieties that are said to contain high amounts of THCV include:
- Doug’s Varin
- Jack the Ripper
- Pineapple Purps
- Dutch Treat
THCV-rich strains are usually associated with Sativa varieties with energetic and “up” effects.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Does THCV get you high?
THCV is not psychoactive in low doses, has an appetite-suppressing, energizing effect, and blocks THC. In high doses, THCV is psychoactive and combines with THC for even more significant psychoactive effects.
What is THCV good for?
THCV may be beneficial in treating a broad range of conditions, including but not limited to bone injuries, PTSD, anxiety, and cancer. The cannabinoid may also help promote weight loss, hence the nickname “diet weed.”
Is THCV safe?
Proper dosing is essential with THCV and all cannabinoids. THCV is generally well-tolerated at low doses, but higher doses could be problematic for some people. To ensure that you are using THCV safely, always purchase cannabis products from a licensed dispensary and speak with your doctor about any concerns.
How does THCV interact with cannabinoid receptors?
THCV is an antagonist (block) of CB1 receptors in low doses and a partial agonist (activator, but only slightly so) of CB1 receptors in high doses. This is why it has two different effects.
What about combining THCV with other cannabinoids?
We’ve mentioned that adding low doses of THCV may shorten THC’s duration, while adding higher doses may increase THC’s psychoactivity to some extent.
CBD and CBG, which do not interact with cannabinoid receptors directly, but influence and dampen CB1 receptors’ receptivity to THC, may have their effects enhanced somewhat by the presence of small amounts of THCV.