Everyone knows that marijuana contains THC. It’s what gets you high.
The explosion in the popularity of CBD as a product that’s legal everywhere has made most people aware that there’s also CBD in cannabis. It’s the cannabinoid that provides many of weed’s medical benefits.
Many are also generally aware that there are dozens of other cannabinoids in pot. A few people may even be able to identify one of them, CBN, which has strong sedative properties but is only noticeably psychoactive in large amounts.
But what about THCV?
THCV: The Mystery Cannabinoid
Bet you didn’t know about this one. THCV is not only one of the cannabinoids in marijuana; it’s one of the so-called “big 6” that has been extensively researched (the other two are CBC and CBG).
Just like CBN, THCV is only psychoactive when you ingest a lot of it. And even though THC and THCV have names which make them appear almost identical – and their basic structure is indeed similar – the effects they produce are quite different, in two ways.
- THCV’s high is almost always fast-acting, clear-headed and stimulating, and it lasts for a short period of time. THC’s high can vary in characteristics and will last longer.
- THC stimulates the appetite, but THCV suppresses it.
In fact, THCV suppresses the appetite so well that it has shown promise as a treatment for weight loss and glucose intolerance. It appears to have many other medical benefits as well.
“How do I get some of that?” we hear you cry. Well, some strains are naturally higher in THCV than others. We’ll take a look at them, after learning a bit more about this mystery cannabinoid
Say Goodbye to the Munchies
There’s a reason you feel the need to run to 7-11 or empty the kitchen cabinets after a prolonged smoke sesh.
When THC hits the brain, it interacts with receptors which are part of the body’s endocannabinoid system. Those receptors are partially responsible for regulating a number of our sensory reactions, including smell, taste, emotions, and pain. And when THC binds to them, the way they regulate our eating behavior changes in several ways.
- They release a hormone called ghrelin – and ghrelin stimulates the appetite.
- They “turn off” the neurons which would normally tell us that we should stop eating because we’re full.
- They stimulate the production of dopamine, which among other things, lowers inhibitions and increases the pleasure of eating.
- They heighten our sense of smell, making food smell better.
Enter THCV. It’s a receptor antagonist, which in simple terms, makes it an “anticannabinoid.” THCV also binds to the receptors but prevents them from being stimulated by THC. That’s why, when THCV is in present-to moderate low doses of weed, it minimizes your high and stops you from getting the munchies.
If you smoke a lot of pot with high levels of THCV, though, all bets are off – you’ll get high for a brief period, and you may get hungry as well.
That’s why, when used judiciously, THCV-high strains are believed to be a fruitful possibility for those who need to lose weight. They’re also a good choice for other reasons.
The Medical Benefits of THCV Strains
Scientific research on THCV is in its early stages, but a number of potential benefits have already been discovered.
- Studies show that THCV can benefit type-2 diabetics, helping to control their glycemic levels by reducing glucose intolerance.
- Research indicates that THCV has strong anti-inflammatory effects, theoretically making it effective in treating illnesses and diseases ranging from allergies, asthma, and arthritis, to the bowel and gastrointestinal diseases, celiac disease and even heart disease.
- THCV has been found effective in suppressing tremors in diseases like epilepsy, ALS and Parkinson’s.
- Initial research indicates that THCV has antipsychotic effects, and is able to help patients suffering from anxiety disorders like panic attacks and PTSD.
That’s all great news, but we know you’re really here for the anti-munchies effect.
Best THCV Strains
THCV is usually present in cannabis in very small amounts. So a few of the strains that are highest in this cannabinoid have been specifically bred to have high THCV levels – and can be very hard to find. There’s also specially-bred shatter like Slim Hash with enormous THCV content, but again, good luck finding it.
This venerable strain has been around since the 1970s and is still widely available. That’s why it’s at the top of our list. While it’s not a THCV powerhouse like strains that have bred for that purpose, it has five times more THCV content (around 1%) than most weed you’ll be able to find. Durban Poison typically has between 15-25% THC, but THCV moderates the high so it delivers a cerebral, clear-head sort of effect.
This pure Sativa is great for daytime use because, despite its Sativa content, it usually doesn’t give you an overwhelming couch-lock. It’s an excellent strain for patients fighting depression, anxiety (THCV helps with that one), nausea and most types of chronic pain.
Doug’s Varin is one of those strains bred specifically for THCV content, and it has one of the highest concentrations you’ll find anywhere, at 3-5%. Be aware, though, that it’s not easy to find this sativa at all; it’s a trademarked strain that isn’t stocked in most dispensaries. The THC levels are high, well over 20%, but it produces the relatively-short, focused high example of a great THCV strain.
There’s another option – Doug’s Varin has also been produced to be used in the vendor’s vape pens and if you can find them, their content is a whopping 25-30% THCV.
Another rare Sativa bred to have high THCV levels, Pineapple Purps (sometimes called Purple Pineapple) often comes in at 4% THCV, a very high amount for a cultivated pot strain. Its usual THC content around 15% means this strain has a THC-to-THCV ratio of better than 3:1, while for most strong weed it’s more like 100:1 or even higher.
Pineapple Purps is a nearly-perfect example of what the best THCV strains will do. It will give you a short-acting but powerful head high without body lock, effectively battle depression, anxiety, and pain – and suppress your appetite so you’re not looking around for something to eat while you’re enjoying the effects.
Jack the Ripper
Here’s a Sativa-dominant strain that defies the rules a bit, as its moderate-to-high THC content produces an energetic, focused high that can last a while, and may move toward the psychedelic side if you hit it particularly hard. Most users are simply happy and motivated (and unencumbered by body lock), and its THCV content can reach as high as an amazing 5% – even though it wasn’t specifically bred for maximum THCV levels.
The anti-munchies effect is strong with this strain, and the high is enjoyable and one that’s great to enjoy with friends. It’s also one of the easier-to-find high THCV strains on the market.
Girl Scout Cookies
You should be able to find this one, too; it’s a huge favorite among medical users. THC is usually at or above 20-25%, CBD and CBN levels are high as is the THCV content since this Indica-dominant strain boasts Durban’s Poison as one of its parents. There’s a fast and impressive combination of relaxation and euphoria, and you should expect to spend a good amount of time-locked to the couch.
All of those factors make GSC a terrific therapeutic strain of weed. Chronic pain, stress, muscle cramps, and migraines will all succumb to its effects, and it also provides the appetite suppressant effects you’d expect from a high-THCV strain.