THCV or Tetrahydrocannabivarin is also a phytocannabinoid often referred to as the cousin of THC. They share similar molecular structures.
But does it possess psychoactive properties? Read on.
Research identifies major cannabinoids as the ‘big six’ which are: THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, CBC, and THCV. Subsequently, the use of phytocannabinoids is gaining interest in multiple medical applications and treatments.
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For example, investigations on medical marijuana are in progress for conditions like neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, bone diseases, inflammatory diseases, and more.
‘Tetrahydrocannabivarin’ is quite a mouthful! However, it’s an appetite suppressant.
Therefore, in our sprint to understand and learn about the cannabinoids, this article shall discuss the following aspects-(keeping in mind the limitations of research references)
- THCV: What, Where, and How?
- Similarities and Differences
- Interaction with the endocannabinoid system
THCV: What, Where, and How?
One of the phytocannabinoids cannabinoids found in cannabis, especially in strains that grow in specific geographical locations.
Where is it found?
- A 2004 study supporting a two-species concept of cannabis conducted a sample study from 157 cannabis accessions to determine CBD and THC banding patterns. Two biotypes of Cannabis sativa and four biotypes of Cannabis indica were identified based on the analyses of their genetic and morphological variation.
- As a result, plants with relatively high levels of THCV and or CBDV were typical only in the C.Indica variety.
- This C.indica accessions originated from countries in Asia (Afghanistan, China, India, Nepal, Thailand), and Africa (Gambia, Lesotho, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland).
How is THCV formed?
- Cannabigerol (CBG) is the parent cannabinoid. Several other cannabinoids take birth from here.
For example, cannabichromene(CBC), cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and more.
Since CBG gets converted into other compounds during their growth stage, only a small quantity remains in a fully grown plant. Hence, CBG extraction is challenging.
- A corresponding series of compounds with propyl side chains get bio-synthesized from CBGV that include THCV, CBCV (cannabivarichromene), and CBDV (cannabidivarin).
Even more, THCV starts life as CBGVA ( Cannabigerovarin acid). CBGVA is a pre-cursor to THCVA, CBDVA, and CBCVA. These cannabinoids become pharmacologically active after the process of decarboxylation.
For example, only when THC loses its acidic state of THCA, it gives a psychoactive high when consumed. And, THCV produces combined effects of THC.
- When THCA and THCVA are decarboxylated, they lose their carboxylic acids. And transform into THC and THCV.
Having said this, it leaves us with the question, is THCV psychoactive?
Well, the answer is yes, and no!
While some studies report on the absence of psychoactive effects, others state that high dosages of THCV could speed up the effects of THC.
- In rodent model experiments, THCV shows a lack of psychoactive effects over THC. Some of the positive results were appetite suppression, an increase in satiety, and metabolic upregulation.
- Dosage is key. A high dose could alter the psychoactivity in the receptors.
- THCV could make THC get absorbed faster and give a sudden high.
It is a high stimulant leaving the mind clear while still feeling stoned.THCV Research
Further research needs to undertaken to study the dual pharmacological activities of THCV. As, it exhibits agonistic and antagonistic effects on CB1, CB2 receptors.
Similarities and Differences
Let us consider two aspects at this point:
(i) The available limited studies and investigations on THCV is inconclusive and in progress,
(ii) Dosage is an imperative factor while trying to determine the side effects or properties of cannabinoids.
With this in mind, firstly, let us compare the similarities between THC and THCV.
- Both compounds are derivative of the Cannabis plant and are phytocannabinoids.
- Both interact and target both CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptor pharmacological experiments on THCV conducted on mice reveal that synthetic THCV resembles properties of THC. And it is a partial agonist of the CB2 receptor. But these results are inconclusive. Moreover, the results of some experiments are either in animal models or Cellular level models.
Secondly, coming to the differences,
- THCV is a propyl analog of THC. In other words, it contains a propyl group (3 carbon) compared to the pentyl ( 5 carbon) group.
- The acidic precursor of THC is THCA, which gets derived from CBGA. The decarboxylation ( in the form of heat, light, or aging) of THCA results in THC. On the other hand, THCV begins as CBGVA (Cannabigerovarinic acid) then THCVA (Tetrahydrocannabivarinic acid). Once,decarbed becomes THCV.
- THCV is mostly found in small quantities in the cannabis plant, while THC is found in large volumes ( in different parts of the plant and abundantly in its trichomes)
THCV’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system
- It acts as a CB1 antagonist and a partial agonist of CB2 inhibiting the psychotropic effects of THC.
- It interacts with other receptors and transient receptor potential channels (TRP, TRP1) to produce antipsychotic effects. Its therapeutic potential on cognitive functions, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer effects, neuro-protection qualities, and more are under study.
Ultimately, cannabis is genuinely one of nature’s blessings. As we learn more about individual cannabinoids, we get to discover more facts. Although it is alluring, it is the responsibility of individuals to follow safe practices concerning dosage to avoid unwanted effects.
- THCV and THC are the principal compounds in charge of creating the euphoric effects.
- At the growth stage, everyday quantities and qualities of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavanoids in the cannabis plant keep changing.
- Heat, light, cultivar, climatic conditions, maturation process or aging, are some significant transformations that the Cannabis plant undergoes. This metamorphosis produces hundreds of varieties of chemical compounds.
- The sample size and limited evidence are the shortcomings of the present findings on THCV. The available findings on their properties need to be reviewed with caution.
- THCV is available as medical cannabis along with other cannabinoids that include CBD, CBN, CBG, CBC, CBV, CBDV. Its purified or isolated form is not currently available for medical use or as any marketed product.
- Pharmacological studies are exploring the scope and opportunities of THCV in medical marijuana. Also, there is a need for further research to optimize dose, routes of administration, appraise, and estimate the therapeutic effects of Cannabinoids.