Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCv, is often described as a close cousin to THC; both molecules fit into the same receptors in the body, despite their different effects. Found mostly in Sativa strains, THCv has psychoactive effects that are described as energetic, alert, clear-headed and motivated euphoria. THCv has been shown to also reduce the anxiety-inducing effects of THC, essentially modifying THC's effects.
In the world of chemistry, THCv is referred to as a "homologue" of THC, which means they belong to a series of chemical compounds that are only slightly different from each other. In this case, THCv has a propyl (3-carbon) side chain instead of a pentyl (5-carbon) group like THC, which makes it produce different effects from THC. Moreover, even though THCv and THC's chemical structures are nearly identical, the biochemical process involved in their creation is quite different.
Unlike most cannabinoids, which are synthesized from Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGa), THCv is not formed from the synthesis of CBG or CBGa. For those interested in the science, here it is at a very high level. Normally, a cannabinoid is formed by the combination of the starting materials, or substrates, Olivetolic Acid and Geranyl Pyrophosphate. However, THCv is different in that another substrate instead of Olivetolic Acid called Divarinolic Acid is employed, which is a derivative of Olivetolic Acid. As illustrated in the first graphic, the substrates Olivetolic Acid and Divarinolic Acid bind to the SGOT enzyme to form Cannabigerovarinic Acid (CBGVA). Next, THCa synthase - an enzyme created naturally by the cannabis plant, converts CBGVA to THCa. Then, as depicted in the second graphic below, THCa goes through the process of decarboxylation, losing a CO2 molecule and becoming THCv. Got all that? Me neither!
THCv is perhaps best known as a possible appetite suppressant. According to GW Pharmaceuticals, "In pre-clinical studies, THCv has shown effects on body weight, body fat content, energy expenditure, food intake, and other obesity-related parameters.”
-may be able to help with epileptic seizures. Study 1.
-being researched for treatment of symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome. Article 1.
-because research indicates THCv can counteract the effects of THC, there is anecdotal evidence that THCv might be effective in treating anxiety and panic but I've not yet found any formal research on this claim.
-might stimulate bone cell growth, though besides anecdotal mentions, I've not yet found any formal research on this.
Possible Therapeutic Effects
NOTE: Categorized as a "Minor" cannabinoid in cannabis.
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