Where once cannabis seemed like a simple plant, in recent years it’s become an ongoing science project full of acronyms and health promises. CBD couldn’t be more famous, CBG is catching up to it in popularity, and CBN is just entering the race. So, of course, it’s high time (pun intended) for a new rare cannabinoid to enter our cumulative consciousness.
The new buzzword in cannabinoids is Delta Nine THCV, known more simply as THCV or "diet weed." If you’re thinking, wait, what? upon hearing the word diet in conjunction with weed, you’re not alone. Unlike previously brought-to-fame cannabinoids like CBD and CBG, both of which can be sourced from hemp instead of marijuana, THCV is embracing its connection to the psychoactive plant despite not being psychoactive. It’s also jumping on a brand new bandwagon for the cannabis industry: the claim of appetite suppression.
In a culture rife with problematic dieting, is it the place of specialty cannabinoid companies to promote food restriction and weight loss? Or is THCV harmlessly offering respite from "the munchies," operating under the presumption anyone taking it is also smoking marijuana? And lastly, is there merit to THCV outside of appetite suppression brands could be focusing on instead? Let’s examine.
It’s important to note there is also a Delta Eight THCV in existence, which does not have these same health claims. Currently, when THCV is referenced here or elsewhere it’s in relation to Delta Nine, not Delta Eight THCV.
What Is THCV?
Cannabis plants contain hundreds of different chemicals called cannabinoids. Delta Nine THCV is a cannabinoid that was discovered in the 1970s. One cannabis site notes "While most cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, are the byproducts of CBGA (cannabigerolic acid) synthesis, THCV is the final byproduct of CBGVA (cannabigerovarin acid). CBGV converts to THCVA, which eventually becomes THCV when exposed to heat or light. THCV is most commonly found in pure sativas originating in Africa, China, Nepal, Pakistan, India, Thailand, and Afghanistan." Through modern science, this THCV compound can be extracted from plants just like CBD can.
Unlike CBD, Delta Nine THCV has some potential for psychoactive results at a high dosage, with the above site mentioning, "At high doses in potent strains, THCV will produce psychoactive effects that are generally stimulating and promote mental clarity. They are also fast-acting and fast-dissipating."
At high doses in potent strains, THCV will produce psychoactive effects that are generally stimulating and promote mental clarity.
What Does THCV Do For Wellness?
Sellers of products with this cannabinoid claim it is euphoric, uplifting, energizing, and motivating. Reviews are mixed, though. While some users say they enjoy it, other reviews say it's not worth the hype.
Though it isn’t marketed as an anti-inflammatory, THCV has been proven to function in that capacity, including reducing pain stemming from inflammation. It’s also been shown to be neuroprotective and potentially useful for symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, with one study stating "Given its antioxidant properties and its ability to activate CB2 but to block CB1 receptors, Δ9‐THCV has a promising pharmacological profile for delaying disease progression in PD and also for ameliorating parkinsonian symptoms."
As far as weight loss goes, THCV has been studied to reduce appetite by way of inhibiting CB1 receptors. Another study found it effective for weight loss, noting "our findings are the first to show that treatment with the CB1 neutral antagonist THCV decreases resting-state functional connectivity... and increases connectivity in the cognitive control network and dorsal visual stream network. This effect profile suggests the possible therapeutic activity of THCV for obesity, where functional connectivity has been found to be altered in these regions." This makes it clear the effects of THCV for appetite suppression have nothing to do with counteracting marijuana usage; it’s being studied on its own, for use in weight loss.
My Experience With THCV
Relationships with food are rarely easy or simple. My own relationship with eating has been complex (but is in a great place these days). I was hesitant to try this product for that reason, worried that I’d embrace the feeling of not being hungry.
Ultimately, I felt nothing at all. I tried doubling the dose, as others have suggested, and still nothing. I also didn’t notice any euphoria or increased focus, which I do experience with CBG products. I used about a third of a bottle over a couple of weeks, trying anywhere from half doses to larger ones, and combining it with other herbal tinctures. Yet, I never felt anything at all.
The Moral Issue
While the euphoria and focus THCV products claim to promote are unproven, according to science, the appetite suppression is real. However, should the cannabis industry be getting in bed with diet culture? Why do we need to complicate humanity's already very complex relationship with the size of our bodies with low-stakes recreational drugs?
I find it harmful for cannabis companies to be highlighting appetite suppression as a selling point feature of THCV. Since it’s well proven to relieve pain and inflammation, it isn’t as if they have nothing else to stake a claim about. Diseases stemming from chronic inflammation are the world’s most significant causes of death.
Appetite suppression products actively further eating disorders, which nearly 10% of Americans suffer from. Eating disorders are a major cause of death, second only to opioid overdose as the leading cause of death resulting from mental illnesses. Additionally, over a quarter of people with eating disorders attempt suicide at some point.
Should the cannabis industry be getting in bed with diet culture?
Should You Try It?
There is no shortage of cannabis and cannabinoid products on the market these days. If you have tried something simple like CBD and enjoyed it, and find yourself wanting to broaden your cannabinoid horizons, I’d suggest CBG or CBN items. They’re as well studied as THCV, and you won’t have to worry about the diet industry moral conundrum.
Abioye A, Ayodele O, Marinkovic A, Patidar R, Akinwekomi A, Sanyaolu A. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabivarin (Thcv): a commentary on potential therapeutic benefit for the management of obesity and diabetes. J Cannabis Res. 2020;2(1):6.
Bolognini D, Costa B, Maione S, et al. The plant cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin can decrease signs of inflammation and inflammatory pain in mice. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2010;160(3):677-687.
Dawson DA. Synthetic cannabinoids, organic cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system, and their relationship to obesity, diabetes, and depression. Mol Bio. 2018;07(04).
Rzepa E, Tudge L, McCabe C. The cb1 neutral antagonist tetrahydrocannabivarin reduces default mode network and increases executive control network resting state functional connectivity in healthy volunteers. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015;19(2):pyv092.