It seems like we’re discovering new cannabinoids everyday — and that’s because we are. Scientific research into cannabis has opened the proverbial can of worms, and we often find ourselves discovering things about cannabis we would never have even guessed. Not that long ago, we published an article about tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and how it talks to our endocannabinoid systems. Today we’re going a little more in depth.

More and more research is emerging about how THCV can be applied in the context of medical cannabis. Obesity, diabetes, chronic inflammation and chronic pain are among some of the medical conditions and symptoms THCV is showing promise for. 

Most of us associate cannabis with an increased appetite. It’s a good herb for those wasting away due to cancer and its related therapies. But THCV is different. 

THCV might actually reduce the appetite and offer a potential cannabis-based treatment for obesity.

THCV is a little bit of an anomaly in the world of cannabinoids. That’s why it’s so interesting and worth checking out how it works in some of the Western world’s hardest to manage diseases.

THCV, diabetes, and insulin resistance.

A person with gloves administering insulin for diabetes

There’s a lot of exciting research going on about THCV’s role in Type 2 Diabetes, sometimes referred to as “insulin resistance”. To put things in context, there are two kinds of diabetes: the first, you’re born with (Type 1), while the second (Type 2) is acquired. Acquired insulin resistance can happen because of lifestyle factors, but genetics can also play a role. To give you an idea of how much a problem Type 2 Diabetes is in Canada, about 3 million people have it. That’s 8.1% of the population. To give you an idea of the worldwide problem, up to 1 in 11 people worldwide have Type 2 Diabetes.

We’re talking about something pretty serious here.

The reason Type 2 Diabetes is so hard to treat is because it takes a long time to happen. Insulin resistance happens very slowly as a response to consistently high blood sugar levels. Eventually, cells lose sensitivity to insulin and don’t let glucose inside the cell. This can eventually lead to a dysfunction in the way the pancreas produces insulin, as it essentially gets tired from constantly producing high levels of insulin. 

The complications of diabetes are serious. Consistently elevated blood-glucose levels can lead to nerve damage, blindness, cardiovascular disease, kidney damage and skin problems. Plus, without sugar entering cells, cells don’t have any energy to carry out cellular processes.

In a 2020 study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, researchers found that THCV enhanced glycaemic control and up-regulated energy metabolism. More specifically, THCV use showed reduced fasting plasma glucose levels compared to the control group. In another study, researchers showed in murine studies that THCV increased insulin sensitivity.

It looks as though the underlying mechanisms of action of THCV are multifaceted when it comes to Type 2 Diabetes. The upregulation of energy metabolism, reduced fasting glucose levels, and increase in insulin sensitivity of cells are all factors that might make THCV interesting in the treatment of diabetes.

Research into THCV and obesity.

An obese woman sits on the couch with her dog reading a book

As you might guess, type 2 diabetes and obesity are highly correlated. Diabetes UK estimates that obesity counts for about 80-85% of the risk factor of developing Type 2 Diabetes. In developing countries this is a huge problem as the prevalence of obesity continues to rise.

Poor diet and lifestyle factors are the most highly implicated factors in the development of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. Excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, and sedentary lifestyle are all factors which may contribute to the development of these diseases. And as we know, nobody is born with Type 2 Diabetes, and very few children are born with obesity. These tend to be developmental problems that occur as a result of lifestyle factors, although genetics may interplay.

So what role does THCV have to play?

As we mentioned earlier, THCV might actually be an appetite suppressant. But before we get into some of this super sciency, very enlightening research, we have to talk about some of the physiological things we observe in obesity other than abdominal fat.

For example, in this research, researchers identified functional brain activity changes in women with obesity. This is important because the part of the brain this functional activity seems to affect is the reward system, which we know is highly implicated in obesity. 

Arguably the most exciting research we’ve found on cannabis ever is this:

In 2016, researchers set off to investigate how THCV affects the brain parts that are interconnected with the development of obesity, such as what we just mentioned. Researchers found that after administration of THCV, there was a decrease in the resting functional state of the default mode network, and an increase in functional connectivity in the brain control network. Both of these findings are consistent with THCV’s potential as a treatment for obesity. 

THCV has also been shown to be an appetite suppressant, but it’s not known what functions are at play to produce that effect. This research may be one of the ways that THCV suppresses appetite,  but we won’t know that for some time.

Don’t forget about the entourage effect.

Entourage effect is much like an orchestra working together

We’re always excited to bring to you the latest cannabinoid research. But we also never want you to forget the importance of the entourage effect.

Sometimes in cannabis research, we take the cannabinoid out of cannabis and it doesn’t seem to have the same clinical effects as when the plant is administered in its whole form. This is because we don’t know to what degree cannabinoids exert their effects with the help of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and compounds in cannabis. That’s to say — how much of it was done by one cannabinoid and how much of it was a team effort?

It’s something that makes it extremely difficult to study isolated cannabinoids. At the same time, we have to study isolated cannabinoids so that we know what they’re all about. 

THCV is like a finger on a hand. If you remove all the fingers, it’s not really a hand anymore and the hands can’t do their job. This shows the potency of the entourage effect and why you should always consider the entourage effect when reading cannabis research.

Strains high in THCV.

The good news is that THCV isn’t psychoactive like its cousin, THC. It can therefore be considered by those who don’t like the intoxicating effects of cannabis as is the case for those who prefer to use CBD. Here are a couple of the strains in the My Supply Co. pantry that are consistently high in THCV and worth checking out if you’re interested in this wonderful cannabinoid.

From the pantry

Girl Scout Cookies Vape Cart

As well as having high THC and CBN contents, Girl Scout Cookies also has higher than normal THCV levels. Euphoria and relaxation ensue after puffing on the Girl Scout Cookies Vape Cart, so get on it to feel the effects of THCV.

Durban Poison

So far as we know, Durban Poison contains the highest THCV content than any other strain of cannabis. This energetic sativa gets people on their feet and ready to tackle whatever the day has in store. Check it out for a hit of THCV.

Have you tried strains in THCV? How did they affect you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

26 thoughts on “THCV in Medical Cannabis – How is it Used?

  1. This is very new to me

  2. very interesting read thank you

  3. Wow , smoking to lose weight….whole new concept. The munchies are my downfall every time.

    1. Right! Just when you thought cannabis couldn’t get versatile enough! The munchies are an extremely common effect of THC, which is why THC is so valued as an appetite stimulant — especially for those who are “wasting”. But THCV is totally opposite — it has appetite-reducing effects and can actually help with weight loss. Interesting, right? It’s amazing that so many different cannabinoids with completely different effects can all live in a single plant species.

  4. seems like I would enjoy THCV

  5. Huh I hadn’t heard of thcv! This has been informative

    1. Awesome, so glad to hear it! You’d be surprised how many cannabinoids there are that many of us haven’t heard of. Stay tuned for more cannabinoid focus articles in the future 🙂

  6. I am fortunate and don’t have diabetes or a weight problem.

  7. Very informative reading about diabetes and insulin resistance.

  8. Ironic on the timing of reading this article. I’ve just made an appointment to get checked for possible diabetes

  9. I always wondered why my son wasn’t gaining weight with cannabis.

  10. Hope more research is done on the medical side of cannabis.

    1. We do too – it’s so very much needed.

  11. i dont think ive tried strains in THCV. who knew?

  12. Didn’t realize the strong connection to insulin resistance!

  13. I dont have diabetes but my thyroid is inflammed and i am on different kinds of meds!

  14. Something new I learned today! Had never heard of THCV before.

  15. Pretty incredible. Great article. Ty

  16. Love gsc! Interesting stuff

  17. wow super helpful

  18. first time i heard about thcv

  19. Wow I’ve never heard of THCV!

  20. A cannabis-based treatment for obesity? That is so unusual and surprising.

    1. Isn’t it just! Cannabis is always surprising us!

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