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What is THCV and what are its effects?

THCV what it is

In the world of cannabis plant research, minor cannabinoids such as THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) have experienced a significant boom in recent years. THCV stands out among other cannabinoids for its potential benefits in controlling obesity. Furthermore, despite its similarity to THC, THCV is not psychoactive and is even thought to lessen the psychoactive effects of THC.

In this post we will delve into what THCV is and its characteristics, properties and effects that make it so special.

What is THCV?

THCV or tetrahydrocannabivarin is a type of non-psychoactive cannabinoid (1), which occurs naturally in the cannabis plant and can be found in Full Spectrum CBD oils and CBD flowers. This cannabinoid has unique characteristics that distinguish it from THC and CBD (tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol).

Like other cannabinoids, THCV is produced in the trichomes of cannabis, which are those tiny microscopic mushroom-like structures that cover the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant.

The chemical formula of THCV is C19H26O2. It is found in low amounts in cannabis flowers, but through selective crossbreeding or breeding, chemovars with slightly higher concentrations have been developed. Even so, THCV is not usually among the predominant cannabinoids in cannabis strains.

Origin and synthesis of THCV

THCV is derived from CBGVA or cannabigerovarinic acid which, together with CBGA (cannabigerolic acid), are the two fundamental cannabinoid precursors of the cannabis plant, from which the other cannabinoids are derived. Although laboratory synthesis is possible, it is not common practice.

The process by which the cannabis plant produces its cannabinoid compounds is called cannabinoid biosynthesis . In this

While CBGA is the precursor of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBD) and cannabichromene (CBC), the varenic cannabinoids, THCV, CBDV and CBCV, are formed from CBGVA in their acid form.

Specifically, through the enzyme THCA synthase, CBGVA is converted to THCVA. Then, under the influence of heat and light, THCVA is decarboxylated to form THCV (2). For the time being, their synthesis in the laboratory is not a common practice for commercial purposes.

Differences between THCV, THC and CBD

Unlike the well-known THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), THCV is characterized by its low psychoactive activity, which offers potential therapeutic benefits without inducing strong psychotropic effects.

The chemical structure of THCV differentiates it from both THC and CBD, which influences its interactions with receptors of the endocannabinoid system.

Properties and Effects of THCV

Some properties of THCV are similar to those of CBD, such as its possible anti-inflammatory effects and its usefulness in neurological disorders. On the other hand, unlike other cannabinoids, some research indicates that THCV may have utility in weight control, diabetes and obesity through glucose metabolism.

THCV and the Endocannabinoid System

THCV interacts with the endocannabinoid system of the human body through CB1 and CB2 receptors. Similar to THC and CBD, THCV is able to bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors (3).

THCV shows a particular interaction with these cannabinoid receptors. When it binds to the CB1 receptor, it does so in a way that is called “inverse agonism”, meaning that it binds to the receptor and exerts an effect opposite to that of its agonist, i.e., it decreases the activity of the receptor. Usually, CB1 receptor activation is linked to a psychoactive response, as these are largely located in the central nervous system. Just as the THC we all know from marijuana binds in an agonistic manner to the CB1 receptor producing a psychoactive effect. Being an “inverse agonist” of the CB1 receptor,

THCV does not produce a psychoactive response, and it is believed that it may decrease the psychoactive effect of THC, although the precise mechanisms are not yet known.

Regarding the ability of THCV to bind to CB2 receptors, it appears that, depending on the dose, it could act as an agonist or antagonist, meaning that it can both increase and decrease the activity of these receptors (1).

Potential Benefits and Therapeutic Applications of THCV

The effects of THCV include a wide range of therapeutic possibilities, which, although they have been suggested through preclinical or experimental studies, are tracing a path that could have a great impact on medicine.


One of the benefits of THCV is that it can reduce inflammation. It has been observed that the effect of THCV on inflammation is due to its interaction with CB1 and CB2 receptors, and by interfering with the nitric oxide pathway, which promotes inflammation (4, 5).


A study in rodents indicates that THCV helps to reduce the incidence of seizures in a model of epilepsy (6). This benefit of THCV as an anticonvulsant is linked to mechanisms related to the CB1 receptor.

Parkinson’s disease

Apparently, one of the effects of THCV in the brain is that it can protect dopaminergic neurons. These neurons are the ones that die or deteriorate in Parkinson’s disease, therefore, the benefit of THCV in Parkinson’s may be significant (7).

Glucose regulation

In some studies it has been observed that a benefit of THCV is its ability to regulate glucose. THCV increased energy expenditure by increasing insulin sensitivity in an animal model (8). Likewise, in a study with patients with type 2 diabetes , the effect of THCV functioned as a good means of glycemic control (9).

Hunger reduction

Apparently, THCV can promote reduced food consumption (hypophagia) according to findings from a preclinical model (10). This could make THCV a treatment for obesity.

How to take THCV?

THCV can be found in cannabis flowers and their by-products, such as oils, tinctures and concentrates, as long as they are full-spectrum. For example, in CBD Oils or in indoor CBD Flower varieties.

On the other hand, in some countries where oral consumption of cannabinoids is regulated, there are also edible products such as gummies, which contain THCV isolated from the cannabis plant.

THCV dosage

To date, the only THCV dose studied in humans has been 5 mg THCV twice daily (9). The clinical study where this dose of THCV was used was conducted in patients with type 2 diabetes. Where THCV dosing was administered on an empty stomach, 30 min before breakfast and 30 min before dinner orally.

There are some other ongoing clinical studies that may yield new effects of THCV at different doses. For now, although there is scientific evidence of many other properties of THCV, it has not yet reached the clinical phase of research.

Side Effects and Toxicity of THCV

THCV appears to have a relatively favorable safety profile. No serious adverse effects or side effects of THCV have been reported so far.

Because further research is needed, we cannot rule out THCV toxicity. Most likely the risks of THCV are minimal, but we cannot assume a subject that needs extensive long-term research.

Does THCV test positive to a drug test?

THCV can test positive for a specific screening test, but not for standard urine anti-doping tests, which look for THC and its metabolites. THCV is structurally different from THC and therefore is not likely to be detected in a standard drug test (for THC).

Legal status and regulation of THCV

As a non-psychotropic cannabinoid found in low amounts in cannabis, THCV has slipped under the legal radar. Therefore, THCV is not illegal so far. However, in European countries it is not approved for use in food products and therefore, at least for the time being, it is not possible to find it in supplements, gummies or food products.

THCV stands as a promising cannabinoid with properties that stand out from other cannabinoids. The benefits of THCV in diabetes and obesity control could trigger further research, which is likely to find some other properties of THCV in the future. As medical and scientific exploration advances, cannabinoids such as THCV could become great allies in improving people’s health and well-being.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prevent or cure any disease or symptom. Its content can complement, but never replace, the diagnosis or treatment of any disease or symptom. Cannactiva products are not medicines and are intended for external use. We recommend that you consult a health professional before using CBD products.

  1. Abioye, A., Ayodele, O., Marinkovic, A., Patidar, R., Akinwekomi, A., & Sanyaolu, A. (2020). Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV): a commentary on potential therapeutic benefit for the management of obesity and diabetes. Journal of cannabis research, 2(1), 6.
  2. Hanuš, L. O., Meyer, S. M., Muñoz, E., Taglialatela-Scafati, O., & Appendino, G. (2016). Phytocannabinoids: a unified critical inventory. Natural product reports, 33(12), 1357-1392.
  3. Walsh, K. B., McKinney, A. E., & Holmes, A. E. (2021). Minor Cannabinoids: Biosynthesis, Molecular Pharmacology and Potential Therapeutic Uses. Frontiers in pharmacology, 12, 777804.
  4. Bolognini, D., Costa, B., Maione, S., Comelli, F., Marini, P., Di Marzo, V., Parolaro, D., Ross, R. A., Gauson, L. A., Cascio, M. G., & Pertwee, R. G. (2010). The plant cannabinoid Delta9-tetrahydrocannabivarin can decrease signs of inflammation and inflammatory pain in mice. British journal of pharmacology, 160(3), 677-687.
  5. Romano, B., Pagano, E., Orlando, P., Capasso, R., Cascio, M. G., Pertwee, R., Marzo, V. D., Izzo, A. A., & Borrelli, F. (2016). Pure Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin and a Cannabis sativa extract with high content in Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin inhibit nitrite production in murine peritoneal macrophages. Pharmacological research, 113(Pt A), 199-208.
  6. Hill, A. J., Weston, S. E., Jones, N. A., Smith, I., Bevan, S. A., Williamson, E. M., Stephens, G. J., Williams, C. M., & Whalley, B. J. (2010). Δ⁹-Tetrahydrocannabivarin suppresses in vitro epileptiform and in vivo seizure activity in adult rats. Epilepsia, 51(8), 1522-1532.
  7. García, C., Palomo-Garo, C., García-Arencibia, M., Ramos, J., Pertwee, R., & Fernández-Ruiz, J. (2011). Symptom-relieving and neuroprotective effects of the phytocannabinoid Δ⁹-THCV in animal models of Parkinson’s disease. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1495-1506.
  8. Wargent, E. T., Zaibi, M. S., Silvestri, C., Hislop, D. C., Stocker, C. J., Stott, C. G., Guy, G. W., Duncan, M., Di Marzo, V., & Cawthorne, M. A. (2013). The cannabinoid Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) ameliorates insulin sensitivity in two mouse models of obesity. Nutrition & diabetes, 3(5), e68.
  9. Jadoon, K. A., Ratcliffe, S. H., Barrett, D. A., Thomas, E. L., Stott, C., Bell, J. D., O’Sullivan, S. E., & Tan, G. D. (2016). Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabivarin on Glycemic and Lipid Parameters in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Group Pilot Study. Diabetes care, 39(10), 1777-1786.
  10. Riedel, G., Fadda, P., McKillop-Smith, S., Pertwee, R. G., Platt, B., & Robinson, L. (2009). Synthetic and plant-derived cannabinoid receptor antagonists show hypophagic properties in fasted and non-fasted mice. British journal of pharmacology, 156(7), 1154-1166.

Masha Burelo
Investigadora en cannabinoides | Doctoranda en Neurociencia

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