There is no shortage of effect-based cannabis products on the market promising everything from better sleep to relief from pain. Just how much science is there to back these claims? Are certain cannabinoids better at one thing than another?
While some of these products are merely leveraging hype, there are definitely cannabinoids that offer very specific and unique effects. One of those is THCV. If you haven’t heard of this one yet, stay tuned because it’s having a bit of a moment in the spotlight right now. Read on to discover what it is, what it does, and how you can try it.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV, is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in hemp and marijuana. It’s not a major player like THC and CBD (yet), but it’s growing in popularity for good reason.
Despite its close relation to THC, THCV does not have the same intoxicating properties. In small to moderate doses, THCV offers therapeutic effects that more closely resemble CBD. In fact, it’s often referred to as the opposite of THC, but this is less about the effect and more about how it interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is the regulatory system in all humans that modulates several important functions to keep us in a state of homeostasis. It’s responsible for striking the perfect balance in functions like:
- Reproduction & Fertility
- Memory & learning
- Immune Response
- Pain Response
- Blood Pressure
This is by no means a complete list, and there is still a lot to discover about the ECS. It’s a pretty big deal! We know that there are two main receptor sites in the ECS—CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptors are primarily found throughout the central nervous system in our brain and spinal cord, and the CB2 receptors are mostly found in our immune cells and the peripheral nervous system.
Cannabinoids “lock” into these receptors and signal to the body that it might need to respond to an imbalance. For example, a cannabinoid might lock into a CB1 receptor in the spinal cord and send the brain a message to relieve pain from an injury in this area. Or, a cannabinoid might attach to a CB2 receptor in our immune system telling our body to reduce inflammation in this area.
Why is THCV Called “Diet Weed”?
THCV plays an interesting role within our ECS. Think of the receptors like light switches for a minute. When you consume something containing THC, it turns on the switch that lights up our CB1 receptors. When this happens, a variety of effects ensue. THC is well known for its ability to stimulate the appetite. This is an incredible benefit for medical marijuana patients who need help increasing their hunger cues.
Recreationally we refer to this effect as “the munchies”. You know the feeling….about an hour or two after smoking you get this insatiable hunger for tacos, chips, spring rolls, you name it. The munchies know no limits.
When we consume THCV, it turns off the light switch in our CB1 receptors that THC turns on. So, it suppresses hunger cues and reduces appetite. This is why THCV is getting so much press as “diet weed” and many people have shared their stories about managing their weight loss plan with THCV-rich weed.
THCV vs THC
THC is the agonist to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, and THCV is the antagonist to CB1 receptors. These two cannabinoids are incredibly similar when comparing molecular structure, but they are really the exact opposite of each other. THC is psychoactive and produces intoxicating effects. These effects increase with the dosage and can reach borderline psychedelic heights in large doses.
THCV is non-psychoactive in small and moderate doses, and it would take massive amounts to offer the same stoning effects as THC. Even so, the overall effects are milder and have a shorter duration than THC. Surprisingly, THCV can actually reduce the psychoactive effects of THC when consumed together.
Another major difference between THCV and THC is their origin story. THC comes from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and THCV comes from cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA). These precursors convert into THC and THCV when exposed to the light and heat that activates them.
THCV is found in hemp and marijuana. Each of these cannabis plants has varying degrees of legality. Anything sourced from marijuana is subject to the rules and regulations set forth by the state in which it is grown and sold. If THCV comes from marijuana, it is only available in states with medical marijuana or adult-use recreational program. You can shop for it in dispensaries only.
When the THCV is sourced from hemp, it is much easier to access. The Farm Bill was passed in 2018 and legalized the production and sale of industrial hemp products. There’s only one catch - the final product must contain less than 0.3% THC. The Farm Bill allows for a large variety of hemp-derived products to be available to a bigger audience since they can be sold online in most states. Despite their legality, some states have outlawed hemp products.
Effects & Benefits of THCV
The reason why THCV is getting so much attention is its ability to reduce hunger and suppress appetite. This is a huge win for anyone battling obesity or needing to drop weight for health or personal reasons. It’s incredibly effective, and research backs the anecdotal evidence.
Yet, appetite suppression isn’t the only benefit we can gain from THCV. It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory, and when consumed with CBD it offers deep relaxation and relief from inflammation.
The Nutrition and Diabetes Journal did extensive research on THCV’s ability to help patients with Type 2 diabetes. They found that the energy-boosting effects from THCV helped reduce glucose intolerance in obese mice, and increased insulin sensitivity. The concluding statement of their study said that THCV holds the potential to be an effective treatment option for anyone with obesity-related glucose intolerance.
When consumed recreationally, THCV offers an energy boost like you’d expect from coffee, but without the jitters or upset stomach. It’s a pleasant, mood-enhancing ‘high’ without the psychoactive effects on the mind.
Pabst Labs is pleased to add a new seltzer to the fam. Energy Guava contains 10mg THC alongside 5mg THCV for an added boost of energy to fuel your day. It’s like having a shot of espresso without that jittery feelings. Instead, you can expect clear, clean energy coupled with a perfectly dosed buzz from THC.
Top THCV Strains
Many strains have small amounts of THCV, but to obtain substantial doses, look for these strains.
- Doug’s Varin
- Purple Purps
- Pink Boost Goddess
- Durban Poison
- Pineapple Purps
- Willie Nelson
If you’re unsure about the THCV content, ask to see the certificate of analysis and check out the complete cannabinoid profile.
Where to Find THCV
You can shop in dispensaries for vape pens, edibles, and tinctures with measurable amounts of THCV. But for the tastiest beverages, stock up on PBR Energy Guava by shopping online. You can buy single cans or cases of 24. THCV is the perfect caffeine-free energy drink you need to lift up your day and put a smile on your face. Crack a can today and see what all the buzz is about.