As researchers gain a better understanding of cannabis with each passing year, we benefit by learning more about the wide array of compounds these unique, aromatic plants produce. One of those compounds is tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), and even though it's not found in every strain of cannabis in significant amounts, it's been attracting a lot of attention for the various effects it has on the body and its potential in several medical applications.
Structurally, THCV is very similar to the herb's most famous cannabinoid: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In fact, they are so much alike that they are considered “homologues,” molecules that are part of a series of compounds with the same general formula, with each having its own slight variation. They both have seven double-bond isomers and 30 stereoisomers, but the major difference is that the THCV molecule has a propyl (3-carbon) side chain in place of THC's pentyl (5-carbon) group. This simple variance results in each compound exhibiting very different effects.
Just like other cannabinoids, THCV interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, and it is a known antagonist (a blocker) of CB1 receptors and a partial agonist (an activator) of CB2 receptors. THCV exhibits distinct effects over the body and mind, including a psychoactive “high” that comes on quicker and is different than the cerebral experience brought on by THC. The compound has anti-anxiety, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties, and it has shown the ability to help improve motor control functions and reduce tremors. THCV also promotes bone cell growth, regulates blood sugar levels, and suppresses appetite, and it shows promise in playing a role in future treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's disease
To end, THCV is a minor cannabinoid found most often in cannabis strains native to Africa and Asia, like Durban Poison and Skunk #1, but in recent years, a few strains have been bred specifically to produce higher levels of THCV, like Pineapple Purps and Doug's Varin. With this basic knowledge of what THCV is you can move forward keeping an ear open for the latest news on this cannabinoid and an eye out for high-THCV strains in dispensaries.