What Is THCV?

Scott Jones

We truly live in a golden age of hemp products. It seems each new day brings with it a new cannabinoid for us to try, and each with its own unique experiences and effects. One of the most exciting new cannabinoids that has been found is tetrahydrocannabivarin, but its friends call it THCV. Though it starts with those same familiar three letters, THCV is a much different type of cannabinoid than THC. If you’re curious about how different it is, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a little time to get to know one of the newest options in the cannabinoid world and learn what it is, what it does, and whether it’s right for you. 

What is a Cannabinoid?

As already mentioned, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are chemical molecules that occur naturally in a variety of planets, the human body, and can be synthesized in labs. We find these molecules prominently in the hemp and cannabis plants.

Cannabinoids interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help regulate an incredibly wide variety of your body’s functions. The ECS is made up of the cannabinoids the body produces (called endocannabinoids), the receptors that those endocannabinoids bind to (CB1 and CB2 receptors), and the enzymes that help remove the cannabinoids from the body once they’ve performed their function.

That function that the endocannabinoids perform is to restore balance to whatever system in the body has gone out of whack. A variety of factors like injury, illness, or stress can cause any number of systems to need support. When things like this happen, the ECS creates endocannabinoids and sends them to the appropriate receptors. They can either activate (agonize) or deactivate (antagonize) the system to restore it to balance. If you’d like to learn more about the ECS you can read all about it here, or if you’d like to know more about how cannabinoids are converted, you can read about that here.

What is THCV?

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a one of the hundreds of minor cannabinoids that are found in the hemp and cannabis plants. A minor cannabinoid means that appears at a far lower concentration than the two major cannabinoids, THC and CBD. While CBD and THC are prevalent throughout a wide variety of hemp and cannabis strains, THCV is most easily extracted from African sativa strains. 

Because THCV is found in such low quantities and in a narrow range of strains, it was previously difficult and expensive to extract. However, excitement over the effects of THCV has led to an increase in demand. As that demand increased, more advanced cultivation techniques have been employed to produce hemp strains with higher levels of THCV and more sophisticated extraction methods have made it easier to concentrate it. There have also been ways discovered using laboratory equipment to naturally synthesize THCV from an acid known as THCVA by exposing it to light and heat.

Is THCV legal?

Yes. When the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, all hemp products were made legal on federal level so long as they contained 0.3% or less of THC. Because THCV can be extracted from hemp and synthesized from the THCVA in hemp, it is federally legal.

Does THCV Get You High?

THCV does have mild psychoactive effects, but these are a significantly less pronounced than the psychoactive effects of THC products like Delta 8, Delta 9, and Delta 10. THCV is often blended with these THC products to pronounce the effect of the high while also still maintaining the unique benefits of THCV.

How does THCV Compare to THC?

THCV and THC have more differences than just the extra letter at the end. Though they may sound very much the same and their chemical structures may look very much the same, the slight differences in their make-up lead to more dramatic differences in the ways the effect the ECS. THCV is, in chemistry terms, a homolog of THC. In layman’s terms, this means the two molecules are identical except for the difference of one repeating unit. In this case, THC has a 5-carbon side chain while THCV has only a 3-carbon side chain. This might not mean a lot to anybody without a chemistry degree, but it is this small chemical difference that changes the way the two molecules affect the body. 

Remember earlier that when a cannabinoid interacts with the ECS, it can bind with either CB1 or CB2 receptors and have either an agonistic (activating) or antagonistic (deactivating) effect. When THC enters the human body, it is highly adept at bonding with and activating CB1 receptors. It is this powerful agonistic relationship with the CB1 receptors that give THC its psychoactive effects or mind-altering qualities. In other words, this is how THC gets you high. CB1 receptors also regulate appetite, so by activating them THC also increases appetite which is why it gives so many people the munchies.

THCV, however, is a CB1 receptor antagonist. This means that when it bonds with a CB1 receptor, it deactivates it and suppresses the functions of the systems controlled by it. THC users often report a relaxing, sedative effect. THCV instead leaves users feeling more alert, clear headed, energized, and focused. In addition, while THC tends to increase appetite, THCV has been reported to help some suppress their appetites. This leads us perfectly into our next discussion of the many benefits of THCV.

What are the Benefits of THCV?

Because of its antagonistic effect on CB1 receptors, THCV has a variety of benefits that we don’t often find in other cannabinoids. It’s these effects that have led some to give THCV such nicknames as “diet weed” and “weederall”. Let’s take a closer look at those benefits and the studies behind them.

Appetite Suppression

According to a study done in 2009, regular dosing of THCV may reduce food intake and weight gain. 

Glucose Intolerance

Studies done in 2013 and 2016 found that THCV had a positive effect on both glucose intolerance in obese subjects and fasting plasma glucose levels in those with type-2 diabetes

Increased Alertness and Focus

Many users of THCV self-report a dramatic increase in energy, alertness, and focus on the task at hand. Often this is described as a “tunnel effect” where the user is able to block out distractions and reach a higher state of attention on whatever job the mind is dedicating it’s resources. Users have found this to be a great way to increase productivity when studying, working, creating, or exercising.

Other Potential Benefits

Unlike THC and even CBD, there is a very limited amount of research that has already been done on THCV. However, due to the increased interest in THCV products, many new studies are underway to pursue the potential benefits this molecule may bring. Some of the effects currently being researched include:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Acne
  • Liver disease
  • Epilepsy

Wrapping it Up

As the demand and the research keep ramping up, we’re sure to learn more and more about this fascinating new option in the cannabinoid world. If you’re curious about the energizing effects of THCV, today’s the perfect day to try one of our many THCV products. The Green Dragon CBD only sources from the highest quality production facilities and has laboratory results for each product on our site. If you have any questions about THCV or want to share your experience, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 

What Is THCV?
THCV can have unique benefits for increased energy and decreased appetite! Read our blog on what THCV is and how it can benefit you!
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What Is THCV?
October 31, 2023
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