What is THCV? The effects and benefits of this promising new cannabinoid


Cannabis contains more than 85 different cannabinoids -- naturally occurring active compounds in the cannabis plant. The two most famous cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but as researchers study cannabis more,  they’re discovering exciting new cannabinoids that may be good for your wellbeing. 

One of those exciting new cannabinoids is THCV, or tetrahydrocannabivarin. THCV is a close relative of THC, and it has similar psychoactive properties -- but THCV comes with a new set of possible benefits that set it apart from other cannabinoids. 

Whether you’re a medical patient or a recreational consumer, THCV may be worth a try. Here’s a basic guide to THCV’s effects and benefits, as well as a list of strains that contain this fascinating cannabinoid. 

The potential benefits of THCV

THC -- the compound in cannabis that gets you high -- is almost identical to THCV when it comes to molecular structure. The only difference is that THC has a little tail on the end of its molecule, while THCV has no tail. 

That missing tail on THCV makes a huge difference when it comes to effect. Research is still pretty new, but a few studies have found that THCV brings a whole new set of potential benefits to the cannabis table, including:

  • Appetite control. In a recent study, people who took THCV showed increased activity in areas of the brain that control appetite, food reward, and impulsive eating[*]. The researchers concluded that THCV may be helpful for weight loss. High-THCV cannabis strains may also be less likely to give you the munchies -- the increased hunger and food cravings that some people get from using THC. 
  • Smoothing out THC. In a small study, men who took THCV alongside THC reported that their high was less intense[*]. They also didn’t show the increased heart rate that THC usually causes, and their short-term memory was less impaired. If you use THC for its medical benefits but you want to stay clear-headed throughout the day, a high-THCV strain may be a good option. 
  • Blood sugar balance. Diabetics who took THCV showed a significant decrease in blood sugar levels[*]. The study’s authors said that THCV shows promise as a more natural way to manage diabetes. Another study found that THCV improves insulin sensitivity (blood sugar control) in obese rats[*]. That said, THCV certainly isn’t a substitute for diabetes medications. If you have diabetes or insulin resistance, talk to your doctor before adding THCV into your routine. 

Keep in mind that research on THCV is still quite young. It’s only been on cannabis researchers’ radars for the last few years and there’s a lot about it that we don’t know yet. 

Does THCV get you high?

THCV was discovered in 1970[*], and early research suggested that THCV does get you high, but it’s only about 25% as potent as THC[*]. 

Because THCV was weaker than its more exciting cousin, researchers put THCV on the back burner for about 40 years. The little research done on THCV described its high as brief and mildly euphoric, like a shorter, gentler version of a THC high. 

However, the recent flourishing of cannabis research has brought THCV back into the spotlight, and new studies paint a more nuanced picture of how THCV works. 

At high doses, THCV gets you high with about a quarter the potency of THC. But at lower doses, THCV seems to do the opposite. 

Low-dose THCV partially blocks CB1 receptors in your brain -- the same receptors THC activates[*,*]. As a result, lower-dose THCV may prevent some of the psychoactive effects of THC, keeping you more clear-headed (and less hungry)[*].

High-THCV cannabis strains

THCV is found mostly in African cannabis strains or in their descendants. High-THCV strains include:

  • Power Plant
  • Durban Poison
  • Girl Scout Cookies (a descendant of Durban Poison)
  • Red Congolese

THCV content in the above strains is fairly low, so it’s more likely to mellow out the THC than to provide additional euphoria. 

That said, as THCV becomes more popular, we’re starting to see the first few cannabis strains bred specifically to have high THCV. The two main ones now are:

  • Doug’s Varin
  • Pineapple Purps

One final note: THCV vaporizes at a higher temperature than many other cannabinoids. If you’re using a vaporizer and you want to activate THCV, you’ll want to turn your vape’s temperature up to 220 °C (428 °F).

If you’re interested in high-THCV strains, Power Plant is a good place to start. And even if you don’t want a high-THCV strain, why not check out the rest of our online cannabis store? We have the largest selection of dried cannabis flower in Canada, all shipped directly to your door. First, book a consultation to get approved for your medical cannabis prescription.

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