THCV is about 25% as psychoactive as THC with effects best described as “euphoric & energetic.”
There are well over 100 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Most of the focus over the last 50 years has been on THC and CBD — but this doesn’t mean the other contenders don’t have value too.
Here, we’ll look at one of the more interesting novel cannabinoids in more detail — a compound called tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV, for short).
THCV is best known for its ability to promote clear-headedness and appetite suppression.
This cannabinoid, along with other varin-type cannabinoids (CBDV, CBCV, and CBGV) are found in higher concentrations in African landrace cannabis species. These plants are being bred into new, high THCV or high CBDV strains as we speak.
THCV is psychoactive but much less potent than THC. The general consensus is that THCV is around 25% as potent as delta 9 THC in terms of the psychoactive effects.
While there’s still a lot of research on THCV needed, the results so far have been promising. Studies have shown THCV is a potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and appetite suppressant. Preliminary research has also shown that THCV can stimulate the formation of new bone tissue — which has vast implications in the treatment of osteoporosis or arthritis.
THCV research is still in the early stages, so we don’t yet have any clearly defined doses for this particular cannabinoid. So far, evidence suggests the dose of THCV is on-par with CBD and other cannabinoids (5 – 50 mg).
More research is needed to confirm as there have been few high-level studies exploring the effective dose of THCV in humans.
Early research on any new compound, including THCV, usually uses very high doses. The idea is that we want to see clear benefits or negatives, so the dose used is very high to make sure it causes an effect. This is the same process that was used when identifying the effective dose for CBD in the early days of research. Early studies on CBD are often administered at well over 30 times the standard dose used today.
Animal studies have shown effective doses of THCV ranging from 2 mg/kg all the way up to 30 mg/kg. To put this into context, this dose range works out to around 136 to 2,040 mg for the average 150 lb male.
Compared to CBD or THC, this is as much as 40 times the normal dose.
The effective dose of THCV in humans is likely significantly lower — more than likely to be on-par with other cannabinoids at a dosage range of 5 – 50 mg.
For example, a human study published as recently as 2016 explored the impact of THCV (10 mg) on the side effects of THC . This dose of THCV was strong enough to reduce some of the side effects of THC.
|Year & Author of the Study||Type of Study||Doses Used||Equivalent Dose For 120 lb Human||Outcome|
|Wargent et al., 2013 ||Animal Study||12.5 mg/kg||675 mg||Reduced glucose tolerance and insulin levels|
|Garcia et al., 2011 ||Animal Study||2 mg/kg||108 mg||Offered clear protective action on the neurological system|
|Deiana et al., 2012 ||Animal Study||30 mg/kg||1,620 mg||Improved symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder|
|Englund et al., 2016||Human Trial||10 mg||10 mg||Ameliorated several side-effects associated with THC|
Structurally, THC and THCV are only differentiated by two carbon atoms. THCV has three carbons on its alkyl side chain, while THC has 5.
While the structural differences are only subtle, there are some significant differences in terms of their effects.
For starters, THC is highly psychoactive — producing the characteristic high induced from smoking marijuana.
THCV is mildly psychoactive — roughly 25% as strong as delta 9 THC, and about half as strong as delta 8 THC or delta 10 THC. Other THC analogs are even more potent, such as THCP (7-carbon chain), and THC-O (a synthetic form of THC with significantly higher bioavailability than THCV and THC.)
Compared to THC, THCV creates a much more clear-headed high. Users report feeling a strong sense of clarity, with some mild visual or auditory changes.
THCV has also been shown to reduce the psychoactive effects of THC itself  — likely by competing for the same receptors but causing a weaker response.
Another major difference between THCV and THC is their effects on appetite. THCV is an appetite suppressant — while THC is an appetite stimulant.
|Metrics||CBD (Cannabidiol)||THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)||THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)|
|Average Concentration in Hemp||16%||<1%||<1%|
|Average Concentration in Marijuana||12%||13%||<1%|
|Primary Target Receptors||CB1 & CB2||CB1 & CB2||CB1 & CB2|
|Cost Per Milligram||$||$||$$|
The THCV market is brand new — the first THCV products only started to appear in late 2019.
As more people learn about the unique benefits of this cannabinoid, we expect to see a lot more development in terms of THCV products.
So far, the only THCV products available are tinctures — and only a few smaller companies are making them at the moment.
You can get cannabis flowers that contain higher than average THCV levels, but even the strongest strains only provide trace amounts of this cannabinoid. Additionally, there are no non-psychoactive hemp strains that make THCV in any significant concentration.
THCV is only produced in very small amounts in most hemp and marijuana strains. However, a few strains of cannabis from the African continent produce above-average THCV concentrations.
Durban Poison, for example, contains THCV in concentrations up to 1% by dried weight. It’s important to note, this is not a hemp strain — it’s an African sativa marijuana plant. This flower contains THC and has psychoactive effects.
Currently, there are no high-THCV hemp strains — but this is expected to change within the next couple of years.
Other African sativa strains (marijuana) include:
Plant breeders are using these strains to produce new, high-THCV hemp flowers.
If using hemp flower for its THCV content in a dry herb vaporizer, you’ll need to turn the heat up slightly. The vaporization point for this cannabinoid is 220ºC (428ºF) — which is the maximum temperature most vapes will go.
It takes a massive amount of hemp flower to produce even a small amount of THCV due to the low concentration of this cannabinoid in the flower and leaves of the plant.
However, THCV extracts are a byproduct of the CBD industry — specifically the CBD isolate industry.
As CBD is isolated from the hemp plant, other fractions of cannabinoids are produced alongside it — including THCV. Even in lower concentrations, the sheer size of the CBD industry and the amount of CBD manufactured in most extraction facilities means we’re left with a lot of these other novel cannabinoids as well.
It’s not common to find THCV concentrates at the moment. Most of the extracts produced are made into an oil instead.
There are only a few companies making THCV tinctures. Companies like Rare Cannabinoid Co. specialize in making novel or unconventional cannabinoid extracts. Most of the mainstream companies in this space have kept their focus on CBD and advertise their full-spectrum oils as a source of THCV instead.
We expect to see a lot more THCV tinctures entering the market in the coming years as more people find out about its unique advantages.
Despite the psychoactivity of THCV, it remains legal in most parts of the world. Regulators have focused primarily on the delta-9-THC content of cannabis plants and rarely regulate any of the other cannabinoids.
Therefore, THCV is subject to the same laws as CBD. If CBD products are legal where you live, THCV is very likely to share the same regulation.
Most parts of the world regulate cannabinoid products based on where it was derived from. If they’re made from hemp plants (defined as cannabis plants that produce less than 0.3% THC) — they’re legal for sale on a federal level.
If the product is made from marijuana plants (defined as cannabis plants that produce more than 0.3% THC), they’re considered illegal on a federal level (schedule I). Certain countries and states have their own laws that permit these products recreationally or with a medical license.
When shopping for THCV, it’s important to always order from reputable sources, preferably operating in the CBD space rather than recreational marijuana space.
Only products made from hemp are considered legal in most parts of the world. You can double-check by looking at the THC content, which should be listed on the side of the bottle. Look for products that are either THC-free or contain less than the 0.3% threshold (0.2% in Europe).
There’s been a lot of promising research involving THCV’s effects in recent years — but the research on this cannabinoid is still in its infancy.
Animal studies have shown THCV may be able to lower insulin levels in diabetics .
THCV has also been implicated as an anti-acne agent when applied topically .
Other studies suggest THCV may possess neuroprotective effects, making it a useful cannabinoid in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease .
In vitro (early stages of research) has shown THCV can stimulate collagen and bone formation . Future studies should be done to assess whether these effects apply in animal studies as well. If true, THCV could be a promising treatment option for joint and bone diseases such as arthritis or osteoporosis.
Like most cannabinoids, THCV is considered safe and non-toxic. There is no LD50 determined for THCV yet, but several animal studies have administered large doses of this cannabinoid without reporting any signs of toxicity.
The main concern with THCV is the appetite suppressant activity. People with existing eating disorders or taking medications that have appetite suppressant side effects (such as cancer therapies) should avoid THCV products.
THCV is mildly psychoactive. It appears THCV is about 25% as strong as THC in terms of its psychoactive effects.
Studies have shown THCV is a neutral CB1 agonist — which means it binds to the CB1 receptors that are responsible for causing the high from THC — yet doesn’t activate them.
Interest in THCV has been on a steady upward trend for the past three years.
As more compelling research is published highlighting the usefulness of this unique cannabinoid, we expect to see a lot more companies jumping on board to produce THCV supplements in a similar way to CBD or THC.
With that said, the limited concentration of this cannabinoid in hemp and marijuana plants will make this cannabinoid hard to scale. Unless plant breeders can develop new strains of cannabis that produce high concentrations of this cannabinoid, it will remain a much smaller part of the cannabis industry as a whole.