What Is THCv (Tetrahydrocannabivarin) Cannabinoid?

Illustration of a scientist with THCv chemical structure
Written by Livvy Ashton | Last updated: February 2, 2023

This article discusses the chemical properties of THCv and its potential health benefits. We compare the effects of THCv to THC, CBDv, and other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. We also take a deep dive into the research on THCv to help you understand how you can use it to improve your health. After reading this article, you’ll know where to look for high-quality THCv products to ensure a safe purchase.

Cannabis stigma starts to dissipate all over the world as more countries legalize its recreational and medical use.

Between traditional marijuana, CBD, CBG, and hemp-derived psychoactive cannabinoids, THCv is another compound making waves on the market.

THCv is often called “diet weed” due to its lower psychoactive potency — but it can get you high.

It also comes with several potential medical benefits, especially when it comes to mood and eating disorders.

In this article, we dive deep into the studies on THCv to explore its therapeutic potential.

What is THCv?

THCv Chemical structure

THCv stands for tetrahydrocannabivarin. It’s a unique cannabinoid that provides a range of psychoactive effects and medical benefits that sets it apart from THC, CBD, and other cannabis compounds.

Whether you use marijuana for medical reasons or you’re just a casual recreational user aiming at specific effects, THCv has a lot to offer.

It’s mostly found in African Landrace cannabis strains, although you may also find pretty high levels of THCv in hybrids whose genetic lineage involves such cultivars.

Can THCv Get You High?

Yes, THCv can get you high because it has a similar molecular structure to THC.

THCv induces psychotropic effects, meaning it may alter the perception of your surroundings, time, and emotions.

However, THCv has a lower binding affinity for CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system. You’ll need to take a relatively high dose to experience the same effects as with weed.

By and large, delta-9 THC remains the most psychotropic natural variant of the THC molecule.

How is THCv Different from THC?

It’s difficult to compare the effects of THCv and THC because we don’t have many studies that tackle this subject.

According to anecdotal reports, THCv occurs in combination with THC to dampen the psychoactive effects of THC

Jonathan Vaught, Ph.D., the CEO of Front Range Biosciences, an agricultural biotechnology company specializing in hemp genetics, isn’t sure whether or not THCv is intoxicating on its own.

THCv Effects

Like I said, THCv has a similar chemical formula to THC, but its psychoactive effects are a lot milder; lower strength translates into a lower risk of anxiety and paranoia.

On top of a gentle psychoactive buzz, THCv induces a focused, energy-boosting sense of euphoria.

THCv also has a higher boiling point than THC — 428 F (220 C).

THCv Benefits

Like all cannabinoids, THCv interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). From there, it produces an array of therapeutic effects.

Studies show that:

  • THCv may suppress appetite. This may be a beneficial trait for consumers focused on losing weight. However, patients with appetite loss and anorexia should avoid high-THCv strains (1).
  • THCv may help with diabetes. Researchers suggest that THCv’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels and insulin resistance may provide new avenues of treatment for diabetes sufferers (2).
  • THCv reduces anxiety and panic attacks. The cannabinoid appears to help with bouts of anxiety and panic in people with PTSD without blocking emotions (3).
  • THCv may help with Alzheimer’s. THCv regulates motor function, tremors, and brain lesions linked to Alzheimer’s disease. However, research is inconclusive (4).
  • THCv strengthens bones. Because THCv takes part in the formation of new bone cells, scientists are looking at it as a potential treatment for osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases (5).

Is THCv Safe to Try?

While we still don’t know much about THCv, experts say it’s most likely safe to try. The few human studies that I mentioned in the previous section didn’t find any major side effects in humans (6).

However, it’s worth noting that the doses of up to 10 mg per day, even when administered for 13 weeks, are considered “low”; we have no evidence on how larger amounts affect the body and brain.

That doesn’t change the fact that — despite the lack of in-depth research — THCv appears to be safer than delta-9 THC because of its lower psychoactive potency.

Where to Find THCv

THCv is becoming more popular each month. If you don’t know where to start, opt for high-THCv strains and products.

Although it may be difficult to find high-THCv strains these days, some manufacturers isolate the cannabinoid from the plant and infuse it into different blends or sell it alone.

Once THCv becomes more accessible, you’ll surely witness the surge of such products on the market.

Here’s how you can find them today:

  • Choose Landrace African Sativas. Strains from Africa have been tested to contain higher levels of THCv than cultivars from other regions of the world.
  • Check parent genetics. If you can’t find an African Sativa, don’t worry. Many hybrid cannabis strains (e.g. Cherry Pie) come with African genetics that determines a higher THCv content.
  • Ask for lab reports. Genetics is one thing, but growing methods and environment is the major determinant of the final THCv content in your strain. Reading a certificate of analysis (CoA) from a third-party laboratory can help you ensure that you’re getting a THCv-rich product.

Strains High in THCv

marijuana strains on a wooden surface

This list below isn’t complete, but it includes strains that tend to contain higher-than-average THCv levels. You can consume them in their flower form or as oils, extracts, edibles, and vapes.

Strains high in THCv include:

  • Durban Poison
  • Skunk #1
  • Durban Cheese
  • Jack the Ripper
  • Pineapple Purps
  • Power Plant
  • Willie Nelson
  • Red Congolese
  • Doug’s Varin
  • Pink Boost Goddess
  • AC/DC

What Are Varin Cannabinoids?

The Varin Cannabinoids are a subfamily of cannabinoids that has gained a lot of attention in selective cannabis breeding. None of the varin cannabinoids is a scheduled or controlled substance, making them more available for research and commercial extraction.

THCv isolate is solid at room temperature and particularly prone to oxidation. CBDv isolate, on the other hand, is a crystalized powder. Their purity is calculated at around 98%.

Varins come with fewer carbon atoms than their non-varin counterparts (THC and CBD), creating fundamental differences between these cannabinoids on a molecular level. Varin cannabinoids have different physiological and psychological effects due to a different kind of relationship with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Key Takeaways on THCv

Minor cannabinoids remain understudied, and THCv is no exception. However, preliminary research suggests it may carry significant therapeutic properties.

Diabetes, inflammation, epilepsy, mood disorders, and neurodegeneration are among the most interesting areas for future research for this cannabinoid.

Cannabis plants don’t produce high levels of THCv. If you’re looking for THCv-rich strains, aim at African Sativa Landraces.

You can also find THCv as a pure isolate. Companies sell it either as is or blended with other cannabinoids and terpenes to produce unique benefits for specific health needs.

Always ask for current certificates of analysis (CoAs) for your THCv product to ensure they contain the declared amount of THCv and are free of dangerous contaminants.

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  1. Abioye, A., Ayodele, O., Marinkovic, A. et al. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV): a commentary on potential therapeutic benefit for the management of obesity and diabetes. J Cannabis Res2, 6 (2020).
  2. 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. [1]
  3. Englund A, Atakan Z, Kralj A, Tunstall N, Murray R, Morrison P. The effect of five day dosing with THCV on THC-induced cognitive, psychological and physiological effects in healthy male human volunteers: A placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover pilot trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2016;30(2):140-151. [2]
  4. Kim, S. H., Yang, J. W., Kim, K. H., Kim, J. U., & Yook, T. H. (2019). A Review on Studies of Marijuana for Alzheimer’s Disease – Focusing on CBD, THC. Journal of pharmacopuncture, 22(4), 225–230. [3]
  5. Idris, A. I., & Ralston, S. H. (2012). Role of cannabinoids in the regulation of bone remodeling. Frontiers in endocrinology, 3, 136. [4]
  6. Russo, E. B., Marcu, J. (2017). Tetrahydrocannabivarin. Advances in Pharmacology. [5]

Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.