Cannabis culture has been having a moment or more for the last few years, and between CBD, CBG and traditional marijuana, a lot of people are curious about all their differences and what potential health benefits they may reap from each one. One of the latest trends getting a lot of buzz, so to speak, is TCHV, a minor cannabinoid that supposedly provides psychoactive effects.
THCV is a cannabinoid chemical found in cannabis that’s slightly similar to THC, according to Jordan Tishler, M.D., a cannabis therapeutics specialist, instructor of internal medicine at Harvard Medical School, president of the Association of Cannabinoid Specialists, and CEO/CMO at inhaleMD. THCV has some structural elements that are different, which contribute to different effects.
According to Jay Denniston, chief scientist at BellRock Brands, THCV is a unique cannabinoid that has potential therapeutic benefits for both appetite control and to provide a focused, energetic sense of euphoria.
“At high doses, it acts as a CB1receptor agonist, like THC, producing a psychoactive effect described as uplifting, focused, and energetic,” he explains. “At lower doses, it acts as a CB1 antagonist, prevents THC from binding to the CB1receptor, reduces psychoactivity, and increases appetite control by potentially increasing insulin sensitivity.”
Based on the limited research out there, however, Dr. Tishler recommends proceeding with caution.
“Studies on THCV have mostly been in rats, not humans, [so] there is not sufficient human data to recommend using it,” he says.
Here’s what you should know about this latest trend in the weed industry.
What does taking THCV feel like, or what should it feel like?
THCV has 2 distinct therapeutic benefits: appetite control and mental clarity and focus, Denniston says.
“With doses associated with high ratios of THCV:THC, because THCV also binds to the same CB1 receptor as THC, it also can produce a psychoactive effect described as energetic, euphoric, uplifting, clear-headed, focused, with boosted creativity and motivation,” he explains. “The effect onset time is faster, but since THCV does not bind as strongly as THC at the CB1receptor site, it has a shorter duration of effect.”
Which weed strains contain the most THCV?
According to Denniston, many of the cannabis varieties that contain higher levels of THCV are sativa-leaning.
“The most common varieties include sativa landraces from China, India, Nepal,” he says. “The highest concentrations of THCV can be found in varieties from southern and western Africa.”
- Doug’s Varin: 3-5%
- Pink Boost Goddess: 4%
- Pineapple Purps: 4%
- AC/DC: 0.5%-1%
- Durban Poison: 3-5%
- Jack the Ripper: 5%
However, while there are some strains that have more THCV than others (such as Durban Poison), no strain has enough THCV to be meaningfully compared to the rat studies, Dr. Tishler says.
“Additionally, most THCV products use THCV that is manufactured from CBD from hemp, not derived from cannabis directly,” he says. “This is important, as we’ve discovered that the chemistry involved is complicated and many products have impurities from the manufacturing process that the manufacturers aren’t testing for (and therefore aren’t even aware of).”
Can THCV get you high?
According to Dr. Tishler, it’s been stated, but not studied, that THCV leads to a more hallucinogenic experience.
“Like THC, THCV can be psychoactive when taken in high doses,” Denniston adds. “THCV produces a faster-acting, more-focused and stimulating sense of euphoria that lasts for a shorter period when compared to THC. The high associated with its psychoactivity is commonly described similarly to sativa varieties, as focused, energetic, and motivating.”
What are some potential side effects of THCV?
Based on rat data, low doses may lead to some appetite suppression and a better response to insulin, Dr. Tishler says.
“For these reasons, many have been touting THCV as a diet aid or a treatment for diabetes or obesity,” he says. “ [But] none of this has been borne out in humans and should not be used in this manner at this time.”
Like THC and other cannabinoids, THCV also has anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, neurogenesis, and antioxidant properties, adds Denniston. Because of its binding ability to both the CB1 and CB2receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, THCV could also reduce muscular spasms associated with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and ALS.
“[Additionally], with the activity on the cannabinoid receptors located within the skeletal endocannabinoid system, THCV could slow some forms of bone loss and may promote cellular growth,” he says.
The bottom line: While THCV shows promise, both Denniston and Dr. Tishler agree more research is needed. And dosing is a gamble. “Since little research has been done on human dosing models, the effective dose has not been determined,” Denniston says. “Each consumer needs to evaluate the effectiveness of THCV for their own specific needs.”
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