Unpacking the Hype Around THCV

Dubbed “diet weed” and “weederall” for its purported appetite-curbing and energy-boosting properties, delta 9 tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is fast becoming one of the latest cannabinoids on the market.

As with many other cannabinoids, including better-known compounds like CBD and CBN, THCV might not have intoxicating effects linked to THC, despite having those all-familiar three letters in its name.

How does it compare to THC?

It’s hard to give a straight answer.

“Anecdotally, people report that, when [THCV] is used in combination with THC, THCV can mitigate [the intoxicating] effects of THC,” says Jonathan Vaught, PhD, the CEO of Front Range Biosciences, an agricultural biotechnology company that specializes in hemp genetics.

Front Range Biosciences produces strains rich in THCV. These strains have historically been difficult to grow and process, because they couldn’t be easily scaled up due to little demand and an expensive isolating process.

As for THCV on its own, “it’s a little less clear,” Vaught says.

THCV is mainly found in cannabis products alongside THC. If the cannabinoid is isolated, purified, and “put into things,” it’s not even clear whether it’s intoxicating at all, he adds.

What are the effects?

THCV is linked to a few potential effects. Here’s a look at where the research stands.

Reduced appetite

While most people associate cannabis with increasing appetite, THCV might have the opposite effect.

Still, the majority of the evidence around THCV and appetite is based on animal research, according to Saorise O’Sullivan, PhD, a researcher and scientific advisor to Artelo Biosciences, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company.

“The theory behind this is that THCV can block the CB1 receptor. [The CB1 receptor] is well known to stimulate appetite, so blocking this receptor could [reduce appetite],” O’Sullivan says.

This idea is backed by a few animal studies. For example, a 2009 studyTrusted Source suggested that THCV may reduce food intake and weight gain.

A 2013 studyTrusted Source found that it may reduce glucose intolerance related to obesity.

O’Sullivan was the lead author on a human trial investigating the effects of THCV on patients with type 2 diabetes.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studyTrusted Source found that purified THCV — administered in doses of 5 mg twice daily for 13 weeks — decreased fasting plasma glucose and improved pancreatic beta-cell function, adiponectin, and apolipoprotein A in people with type 2 diabetes.

However, there was no impact on appetite or body weight in these patients with THCV treatment compared with the group who received placebo.

A human study from 2015Trusted Source looked at how a single dose of 10 mg THCV affected food reward and aversion.

The authors found that THCV actually increased the activation of several brain regions in response to chocolate or to aversive food stimuli (rotten strawberries). But it didn’t seem to affect the ratings of pleasantness or desire for the food stimuli.

“Taken together, the published scientific evidence does not yet support the idea that THCV is an appetite suppressant,” O’Sullivan says.

Other effects

O’Sullivan adds that, though the jury is still out on THCV’s appetite-suppressing properties, preclinical animal research suggests there could be a role for THCV in a broad range of diseases and disorders, including:

  • Parkinson’s diseaseTrusted Source
  • psychosisTrusted Source
  • bacterial inflammationTrusted Source
  • acneTrusted Source
  • fatty liver diseaseTrusted Source
  • painTrusted Source
  • epilepsyTrusted Source

Human research with THCV is more limited, but a small trial from 2015Trusted Source among cannabis explored its potential to reduce some negative effects of THC.

The authors suggested that 10 mg of THCV may reduce increased heart rate, subjective feeling of intoxication, and verbal recall issues caused by THC.

Is it safe to try?

While there’s still much to learn about THCV, O’Sullivan says it’s mostly safe to try. No major side effects have been reported in the few human studies that exist, which involved doses of up to 10 mg per day, for as long as 13 weeks.

She notes, however, that some participants reported feeling a bit more tired than usual, so you may want to avoid driving until you know how it affects you. And you’ll definitely want to avoid the road if you try a product that also contains THC.

As always, it’s best to talk with a healthcare professional before trying any new vitamin or supplement, including cannabis products.

Where to find it

According to Vaught, THCV’s availability has “been very limited.”

“There are only a limited number of plants out on the market that produce viable quantities of this compound, and they’ve generally been hard to grow, low-yielding plants. The supply chain is not strong, it’s a rare cannabinoid. It’s expensive,” Vaught says.

Vaught says he and his team have noticed people isolating THCV from plants and infusing it into different manufactured products, like edibles and cannabis drinks.

This opens the door, he adds, to increased yield and supply chain accessibility by enticing growers to produce more THCV.

It also paves the way for more traditional products, like flower or vapes, that come directly from the plant (as opposed to, for example, an edible infused with an isolate).

Specific strains to look out for include Dayslayer, which Vaught says is the “hottest new THCV genetic on the market.”

Durban Poison, already a popular strain, along with Pink Boost Goddess, which is a proprietary cultivar developed by northern California cannabis farm Emerald Spirit Botanicals, are also available in the consumer market where adult-use cannabis is legal.

The bottom line

Like most minor cannabinoids, THCV is still under-studied and under-produced. But, thanks to consumer interest, it seems like that might be changing.

Just be wary of overenthusiastic claims around weight loss and other effects, as the research on THCV is still in the very early stages, especially on its effects on humans.

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