It is widely known that the main psychoactive compounds-- molecules that interact in the brain to alter mood, perception and emotions-- in cannabis are THC and CBD. While these two compounds grip the spotlight, other minor compounds like THC-A and CBG, share the stage because they have been recently linked to many of cannabis’s medicinal benefits without being psychoactive. More recently, cannabis’s minor compounds like terpenes and THC-V have garnered attention because they add contributing factors to cannabis’s overall high. These compounds are not psychoactive in the concentrations found in cannabis, but they can interact throughout the body to provide cannabinoids more access to their receptors, for example.
THC-V vs THC
Molecules in the human body and in plants undergo various modifications that will ultimately affect their characteristics, movement and function. Cannabinoids, like THC, often get different chemical groups attached to them which makes them a similar, but different, molecule. THC, in cannabis, predominantly exists as four different compounds, THC-A, THC-V, THC-8 and THC-9; the latter of which is what we would consider normal THC. THC-V, or Tetrahydrocannabivarin, has a structure that significantly overlaps with THC, but THC-V has an extraneous chemical group. Because of this group, THC-V cannot bind to all of the same receptors that THC does, or at least not as tightly. Therefore, in low doses, THC-V is not psychoactive because it cannot activate the CB1 or CB2 receptors found in the brain and throughout the body. However, in much higher dosages, THC-V can contort itself into a structure that fits, although not perfectly, into the THC pocket of CB1 and CB2 and elicit low but apparent psychoactive effects.
Is THC-V Psychoactive?
While being unable to bind the main endocannabinoid receptors does make THC-V nonpsychoactive, the compound likely binds other areas throughout the body to alter the mood and feelings of the user. THC-V was discovered in 1973 and quickly became known throughout the media for its potential benefits. Unlike cannabis’s other trace molecules, such as myrcene which increase THC’s access to the brain, THC-V can actually counteract many of THC’s effects. For example, THC-V is known as the appetite-suppressant version of THC since user’s often lack munchies when smoking THC-V high strains. Although THC-V does not produce a “high” sensation, it can affect the user's mood or perception. Many user’s characterize their experience with THC-V as:
- Feeling Energized
- Clear minded
Since THC-V is non-psychoactive there are, perhaps, other explanations as to why user’s feel like this. THC-V is more common in sativa rather than indica, so the mixture of other chemicals might be the reason for a more upbeat high. Alternatively, THC-V may bind to receptors besides CB1 or CB2 to produce such mood altering effects. However, it is much more likely it is some kind of combination of alternatives.
Are There Any Medicinal Benefits to THC-V?
THC-V has recently gained the attention of researchers around the world for its potential medical benefits. It has become a favorable therapeutic since it is non-psychoactive but does enact some functionality and medicinal benefits throughout the body-- indicated by its appetite suppressant activity and mood enhancement.
A 2011 study by Dr. Garcia illustrated the therapeutic potential of THC-V in Parkinson-prone mice. Common in many neurological disorders is the release of free radicals, which can be caused by mitochondrial dysfunction. THC-V has antioxidative properties that can absorb and remove these molecules from cells. Furthermore, THC-V was shown to protect neurons from 6-hydroxydopamine, a drug used to break down neurons in research. These two different roles of THC-V illustrate it as a beneficial compound against neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s disease.
Recall, THC-V prevents hunger which makes it a variable compound for weight loss but an unfavorable compound for people in need of an appetite, like cancer patients. Dr. Wargent and others investigated how THC-V interacts in the body to decrease fat in mice. The team found that THC-V does not alter the amount of food consumed or change the amount of food that is stored as fat but it promotes fat-loss by ameliorating insulin production and sugar tolerance.
Cannabis can be good for the bones? Who knew! Apparently Dr. Scutt and Dr. Williamson knew that THC, CBD and THC-V all work together to promote bone nodule formation, collagen production, and alkaline phosphatase activity-- all of which stimulate bone protection and growth. But, they wanted to investigate THC-V’s interaction in bone growth more and they found that THC-V is able to instigate bone nodule formation by acting as a CB1 and CB2 antagonist.
Strains High in THC-V
Perhaps you are looking for an energetic and uplifting high, or you want to understand how trace molecules can affect your overall high. Regardless of your motivation, here are some THC-V rich strains:
Tangie gets its name from its citrus aroma given off when smoked. Wikileaf categorizes its high as focused and creative because its high THC-V concentration, along with its 22% of THC, offer a strong but uplifting high.
Pineapple Purps is a sativa strain that was cross-bred with other strains in an effort to increase the THC-V concentration. According to Wikileaf, THC-V has an incredible high, 3:1, ratio of THC:THC-V which causes it to have a high like other strains high in THC-V: energetic, uplifting and happy.
Durban Poison is 100% sativa with its roots in South Africa. User’s report an energetic high with a loss of appetite as is common with strains high in THC-V.
THC-V is a very unique compound in cannabis because it provides its own medicinal benefits, leaves the user feeling more energetic and uplifted, and is only psychoactive in high doses. Together, these characteristics make THC-V an attractive product for users wanting this experience. While there is a small list of strains high in THC-V above, you can learn more about THC-V strains here!