What is THCV?

Part of the Cannabis Plant Being Held in Hand

Despite cannabis research spanning approximately fifty years, the precise count of natural cannabis compounds (cannabinoids) changes and updates as research evolves. Two of these compounds, THCV and THCA, are often confused with one another due to their similar names.

We aim to dive into the specifics of these cannabinoids, demonstrating not only how their chemical structure differs but also their many effects on the human mind and body. If you’d like more in-depth information on THCA, click here to review our complete guide.

What is THCV?

THCV is essentially the under-the-radar relative of THC in the cannabis world, found in cannabis sativa. It resembles THC, but if you look closely, the difference in their molecular side chains sets them apart. THCV sports a shorter chain with three carbon atoms, while THC’s is longer with five.

This minor tweak gives THCV its unique characteristics, setting it apart from THC. It’s not as mainstream as CBD or THC, but THCV has garnered attention for its potential health benefits and psychoactive effects, which vary with the strain and dosage used.

In smaller amounts, THCV is mild, not typically causing a high. But, take a bit more, and it offers a brief, energizing high known for boosting alertness and focus, making it a go-to for daytime use.

THCV also shares THC’s ability to bind with the body’s cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, initiating a variety of bodily responses. One of its notable actions is reducing appetite, which has earned it the nickname “diet weed.”

However, THCV is relatively scarce in cannabis, making its direct extraction somewhat costly. As a result, some products claiming to contain THCV might not live up to the promise, possibly containing delta 8 THC or CBD instead, which are more readily available.

It’s wise to look at third-party lab results to avoid falling for fake products, which provide a detailed breakdown of what’s inside.

Is THCV Legal?

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, THCV, along with other cannabinoids, has been legalized at the federal level in the United States. The legislation specifies that hemp products with THC levels below 0.3% are lawful for production, sale, and use. As a result, products derived from hemp that contain THCV with THC concentrations of 0.3% or lower are legally available throughout the country.

However, it’s important to note that while THCV enjoys federal legality, state laws can vary, and not all states have embraced THCV. In the United States, states have the autonomy to set their own regulations, which can sometimes deviate from federal guidelines. Therefore, it’s possible that THCV might not be legal in your state, highlighting the importance of checking your local laws before purchasing THCV products.

Possible Benefits of THCV

Regulating Blood Sugar Levels 

Individuals grappling with elevated blood sugar levels are well aware of the risks associated with this condition, including an increased likelihood of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and weight gain. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is crucial for overall health.

Encouragingly, preliminary studies show promise in supporting the maintenance of normal blood sugar levels. It contributes to this by improving insulin signaling, decreasing glucose intolerance, and enhancing insulin sensitivity. Research indicates that THCV could be beneficial for those with type-2 diabetes by boosting the function of pancreatic cells and lowering plasma glucose levels.

Reduced Cravings 

A study in the British Journal of Pharmacology revealed that THCV could potentially lessen nicotine cravings in rodents. Based on these outcomes, the researchers proposed that THCV could offer therapeutic advantages for addressing nicotine addiction and possibly dependencies on other substances.

In addition to its impact on nicotine, further research suggests that THCV could help suppress hunger and enhance feelings of fullness. It also holds promise in weight management, as it appears to boost energy metabolism, marking its significance in the context of weight loss.

Reduced Inflammation 

A 2011 study highlighted THCV’s strong anti-inflammatory capabilities, suggesting it could alleviate symptoms associated with inflammatory disorders. This potential was further evidenced by a 2021 study, which showed THCV’s effectiveness in combating fatty liver disease in mice, attributing these benefits to its anti-inflammatory properties. Such findings offer hope to individuals dealing with painful inflammatory conditions.

Potential Bone Growth

While the detailed mechanisms of how THCV affects specific bodily processes are not fully understood, it is thought that this phytocannabinoid could encourage bone growth. This is partly because THCV can interact with cannabinoid receptors, notably the CB2 receptors, which are mainly found in the immune system’s peripheral cells, as well as in osteoclasts and osteoblasts—critical players in bone development regulation. 

THCV’s activation of these cells may lead to increased collagen production and the formation of bone nodules, contributing to enhanced bone growth. Although these insights are still in the early stages, they underscore THCV’s potential as a treatment option for degenerative bone conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Photo by CRYSTALWEED cannabis on Unsplash

Strains High in THCV 

THCV, a unique cannabinoid, is only found in sativa strains, with certain ones being especially rich in THCV:

  • Willie Nelson – This strain, created by Reeferman Seeds, combines Highland Nepalese with Vietnamese Black, both sativa varieties. It gained fame for its energizing, mind-clearing effects and won ‘Best Sativa’ in 2005. With THC levels ranging from 17% to 22%, typically around 20%, Willie Nelson is known for its strong euphoric effects, making it perfect for social events, boosting motivation, or enhancing mental clarity.
  • Jack the Ripper – Often abbreviated as JTR, this strain is named after the notorious 1888 London criminal and is celebrated for its high THC content. Its effects are intense and build gradually to a powerful cerebral experience. The THC concentration is typically in the mid-20s, leading to a potent, euphoric buzz, complemented by a lemony scent, ideal for fostering creativity and energy during the day.
  • Pink Boost Goddess – This strain stands out for its balanced THC (10-16%) and high THCV (7-10%) levels, offering a joyful, uplifting high. It has won several awards for its mild psychoactive effects compared to strains with higher THC. Users report enhanced energy, focus, mental stimulation, and reduced appetite.
  • Pineapple Purps – A rare sativa-dominant strain recognized for its significant THCV production, unusual among cannabis strains. It typically shows a THC to THCV ratio of 3:1, with THC around 15% and THCV at 2-3%. Pineapple Purps is celebrated for its psychoactive effects, such as euphoria and heightened focus, making it a choice for those looking to manage pain, anxiety, arthritis, or regulate appetite.
  • Durban Poison – Originating from Durban, South Africa, this pure sativa is known for its energetic and mentally stimulating effects. It contains approximately 1% THCV. It’s prized for its distinct citrus and spicy hash flavor, offering an intense, sometimes disorienting psychedelic high. With high THC and low CBD levels, Durban Poison is favored for mental stimulation and an energizing experience.

How to Consume THCV

THCV is relatively user-friendly, primarily because it doesn’t break down easily when exposed to heat. Depending on its format, multiple methods are available for consuming this uncommon cannabinoid.

Vaping THCV Liquid

Vaping is a contemporary method for using cannabis, offering multiple benefits. It eliminates smoke, providing a significantly safer option for your lungs. Additionally, vaping is cleaner, more convenient, and more efficient compared to traditional smoking methods. You will typically need a refillable vape pen or a cartridge for vaping.

Smoking Cannabis Flower Strains High In THCV

This method is the most traditional and widely used; however, it can have drawbacks for some. For instance, the strong odor of cannabis makes it impossible to use discreetly. Secondly, smoke often carries carcinogens, introducing harmful substances to your lungs, which can lead to lung diseases and deteriorate overall health.

THCV Shatter 

Shatter is a type of cannabis concentrate known for its brittle, glass-like texture. It’s significantly more potent than traditional marijuana, boasting THC levels up to 60%, which is a stark contrast to the 20% typically found in marijuana flowers.

True to its name, shatter breaks easily if not handled with care. Its high THC concentration makes it especially popular among those who enjoy dabbing. Yet, it’s important to note that THC is not the sole active component in shatter.

Currently, concentrate producers are diversifying their offerings, creating shatter varieties with different active ingredients. As a result, whether your preference or health requirement is for CBD or THCV, there’s likely a shatter option tailored to your needs.

THCV vs. THCA: Which is Better?

  • THCV vs. THCA: Energy – Looking for an energy surge? THCV, typically found in sativa strains, might be your best bet. It offers a gentle psychoactive effect, promising an energetic lift without overwhelming you.
  • THCV vs. THCA: Sleep – For those nights when sleep seems elusive, many turn to THCA for its proven effectiveness in enhancing sleep quality. THCA, while non-psychoactive, possesses anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties that could also contribute to better sleep, akin to CBD’s effects. For more information on THCA’s beneficial effects on sleep, click here.
  • THCV vs. THCA: Focus – If sharpening your focus is the aim, THCV should be on your radar. Renowned for its ability to stimulate energy, creativity, and concentration, THCV can help you stay on task.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to picking the right cannabis product, do research on what your goals may be because there truly is a product for everything. Seeking a high for leisure is quite different from using cannabis for health-related reasons, like managing anxiety. Using the above information can help you decide on not only the proper cannabinoid but also the proper form that will suit your needs best. 

**(Disclaimer reminder: This article is not medical advice. It is based on anecdotal user experience alone. If you are thinking about incorporating cannabis (delta-8 THC, delta-9 THC, CBD, etc) into your medicinal routine, please consult a healthcare professional. Do not stop taking any prescribed medications without first consulting your doctor.)

Disclaimer: This article was written in March 2024 and reflects the current laws of the United States at that time. Because cannabis laws in the United States laws are subject to change at any time, please make sure that you are always staying up to date on your federal, state, and local county’s cannabis laws. Additionally, we are NOT encouraging anyone to break the law––we are simply showing people ways to legally and discreetly bring their cannabis products along with them on their travels so that they may have access to those products when they reach their intended destination.

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