What Is THCV, and What Are Its Effects?

History of THCV research

THCV was first discovered alongside cannabidivarin (CBDV) in 1971. Further studies into THCV that took place in the 1970s classified this Cannabis sativa constituent as a “propyl homolog” of THC due to the fact that THCV contains a propyl group, which THC does not.

Over the next decade, scientists looked closely at the occurrence of THCV based on geographical locations. This research found that THCV-rich strains were more common throughout the African continent, with one South African cannabis strain containing over 53% THCV. Despite successful efforts to determine the origins of THCV, research into the potential benefits of this cannabinoid was largely absent throughout the decade of its discovery.

THCV as a forensic tool

During the 1980s, tests that detected the presence of THCV were used to determine if illicit cannabis was imported or domestic. Since domestic strains of Cannabis sativa did not contain any sizable concentrations of THCV, the presence of this cannabinoid was seen as forensic evidence of cannabis smuggling. Japanese scientists discovered a variant of THCV in 1981, but the potential benefits of conventional THCV would remain unelucidated for more than two decades.

In 1999, researchers developed THCV testing methods that determined if individuals had ingested cannabis or Marinol, a THC-based prescription drug. Starting in 2005, research into the potential benefits of THCV got underway with a study into the impact of this cannabinoid on the brain’s CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. While both ∆9 THC and ∆8 THC act as cannabinoid receptor agonists, this study determined that THCV is a CB1 and CB2 antagonist, which means that it does not stimulate these intoxicating neuroreceptors.

Evidence that THCV may be beneficial

In 2007, researchers found that THCV may directly antagonize THC, reducing its effectiveness. A 2008 study provided further evidence that THCV may act as a CB1 antagonist, and in 2010, researchers investigated the potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of this unique cannabinoid.

Also in 2010, a study was published detailing the potential anticonvulsant effects of THCV, and research into the potential benefits of this cannabinoid has accelerated dramatically over the last decade. THCV was first studied for its potential impact on insulin sensitivity in 2013, and in 2015, the British Journal of Pharmacology published a review detailing the research that had been conducted into THCV’s potential antagonistic cannabinoid receptor activity so far.

Indicating increased interest in using THCV as a diabetes drug, a 2016 study examined the safety of this cannabinoid when administered to patients with type 2 diabetes. Research into the potential diabetes benefits of THCV has continued to gain momentum over the last four years, and in 2019, researchers examined the potential benefits of THCV for nicotine addiction. Just this year, a new review was published discussing the potential usefulness of THCV for diabetes, indicating that pharmaceutical companies are keenly interested in this cannabinoid as a potential antidiabetic medication.

What is THCV currently used for?

THCV remains relatively unknown among the general public, making the popular uses of this cannabinoid highly limited. Veteran cannabis users know THCV as the “type of THC that doesn’t get you high,” and individuals who don’t commonly use cannabis simply aren’t aware of the potential benefits of this cannabinoid.

Some diabetic patients, however, have recently become aware of the potential benefits of THCV, leading to increased demand for this predominantly non-intoxicating cannabinoid. People with serious medical conditions generally view drug intoxication as a downside, so the fact that THCV is being intensively researched for its antidiabetic properties while also acting as a CB1 and CB2 antagonist makes this propyl cannabinoid highly attractive.

While THCV was relatively unknown a few years ago, rising interest in the potential unique benefits of this cannabinoid has led to a spike in THCV production. Largely relying on Cannabis sativa strains that naturally contain high concentrations of THCV, a variety of entrepreneurs have started manufacturing products that contain this unique cannabinoid. 

THCV may not be intoxicating like THC, and it might not be as relaxing as CBD. For people with diabetes, epilepsy, and other serious conditions, however, THCV is shaping up to be a potentially bright light in the darkness.

What might THCV be used for in the future?

Based on the current research climate surrounding THCV, it’s highly likely that pharmaceutical corporations will start producing THCV-based drugs in the near future. It will be quite some time until enough research has been conducted to positively affirm the potential antidiabetic properties of THCV, but as the approval process for Epidiolex is proven, much of this research could be conducted as part of the preparation for a THCV-based drug’s approval.

Regardless of which stance the pharmaceutical industry takes on the utility of THCV as an antidiabetic drug, individuals with diabetes are constantly searching for natural methods of approaching their disease that do not have considerable side effects. THCV is not significantly intoxicating, and it is natural and non-toxic. Via word-of-mouth and internet consumption, people with diabetes will rapidly learn about the potential usefulness of THCV and promote the use of this cannabinoid.

THCV use will also increase among individuals who do not suffer from any serious conditions. While similar to THC in many ways, this cannabinoid is non-intoxicating, and THCV also has properties that make it different from CBD, CBG, CBN, or any other non-intoxicating cannabinoid. Veteran hemp and cannabis users seeking a new experience will naturally gravitate toward THCV as another potentially antioxidant and anti-inflammatory cannabinoid to explore.

What are the best ways to use THCV?

Unlike CBC, CBN, or some of the other “fringe” cannabinoids that have just started to receive widespread acclaim, THCV is already popular enough to be offered in a variety of different types of products. Some companies offer THCV in tinctures or capsules, and this cannabinoid may soon be available in topical products.

The most reliable way to experience the full effects of THCV, however, is to inhale this cannabinoid. While some Cannabis sativa strains, especially those hailing from South Africa, can contain high concentrations of THCV, this cannabinoid is usually accompanied by equally high concentrations of THC, which you may not wish to consume.

Therefore, the best way to inhale THCV is in the form of a vape cartridge. Featuring purified distillates that do not contain high concentrations of THC, THCV vape cartridges provide a clean, pure approach to exploring the potential benefits of this cannabinoid. Reputable THCV cartridge manufacturers also provide lab results proving the purity and potency of their products.

Why you should try THCV today

Ever since its discovery, THCV has been overshadowed by the successes of its more well known cousin, THC. Relegated to the sidelines, THCV hardly received any attention at all except when it was deemed useful as a tool for identifying instances of illicit cannabis use. During the last two decades, however, everything has changed, and THCV now shines out as a unique and potentially highly useful contributor to the wider Cannabis sativa family.

Whether you have a serious condition or not, you should give THCV a shot to experience this cannabinoid’s unique effects for yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy or abhor the intoxicating effects of THC—THCV is entirely different, and this largely unknown cannabis constituent has an impressive story to tell. As the perfect companion to CBD or CBG, THCV has secured an enduring place within the modern pantheon of non-intoxicating cannabinoids.

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