THCV 101: A Beginner’s Guide

I’m sure you’ve already seen the astronomical rise of CBD and THC. They’re everywhere. You can’t go anywhere without someone mentioning the power of these two cannabinoids. 

However, cannabis doesn’t start and stop with CBD and THC. There are many, many other cannabinoids ready for you to discover — Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) being one of them. It has a wide range of benefits and can be commonly found in full-spectrum CBD oils. It’s otherwise pretty rare.

If you’re totally confused by the “V” at the end of “THC”, it’s all good. I totally understand — this comprehensive guide will get you right up to scratch with what THCV can do for you.

TL;DR – What is THCV?

  • A very unique cannabinoid — a homolog of THC with mildly intoxicating effects in larger doses (non-intoxicating in smaller doses)
  • Known to be an effective antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory and a neuroprotectant, as well as beneficial for combating symptoms of anxiety, anxiety-related disorders, obesity, and obesity-related diabetes
  • Side effects include appetite loss and drowsiness 
  • It’s federally legal but sale and possession could be punishable under the Federal Analog Act
  • Shouldn’t cause you to fail a drug test but some studies have shown THCV in urine samples after users smoked one marijuana cigarette
  • THCV is commonly found in full-spectrum CBD oils and cannabis oils — only in trace amounts. Pure THCV products are rare to find.

What is THCV?

THCV is one of the more interesting cannabinoids, especially now there’s so much interest in what it is and what it can do for you. 

As you may already know by now, THCV is one of 113 separate phytocannabinoids found in varieties of hemp — “phyto” meaning it originates from the plant. 

You’ll commonly find the highest level of THCV in African “landrace” cannabis strains. Landrace refers to strains not touched or manipulated by humans or human experimentation. The most well-known landrace strain with an abundance of THCV is Durban Poison, though you can find it specially grown hybrids as well, which includes Jack The Ripper and Doug’s Varin. 

THCV was discovered five years later than THC (and CBD, for that matter) in 1973. It hasn’t been until recently that THCV has gained some pretty widespread attention from researchers and scientists.


THCV vs. THC vs. CBD

THCVTHCCBD
Federally legal; possession and sale could be punishable under the Federal Analog Act.Federally illegal; medicinal, recreational use allowed in some states.Federally legal.
Non-intoxicating in low doses; mildly intoxicating in higher doses.Gives you a high.Non-intoxicating, even in high doses.
Marijuana & hemp plants contain little THCV (typically 1%).Hemp plants contain trace amounts of THC (<0.3%). Marijuana plants contain much more.Hemp & marijuana plants contain an abundance of CBD.

THCV oil benefits

If you’re someone who’s naturally predisposed to anxious, negative, and unwanted thoughts and feelings, a nice dose of THCV might just be what the doctor ordered. 

THCV acts upon the serotonin receptors (otherwise scientifically known as 5-HT1A). This produces very effective anti-anxiety and antipsychotic qualities within the body, but only in higher doses. I wouldn’t count on trace amounts of THCV to be a miracle cure here.

Instead, I suggest purchasing a pure THCV oil or isolate powder. These products, though rare to find, typically contain higher levels of THCV — in fact, isolate powders can go up to 90+% THCV.  

These types of high-THCV products are also incredibly useful for the other ailments listed below. 

1. Antipsychotic 

THCV is pretty damned effective as an antipsychotic. 

Researchers believe it can “enhance 5-HT1A receptor activation”. This receptor is what’s known as the serotonin receptor and is found in areas throughout the brain, mostly in the limbic brain areas such as the hypothalamus and the cortical regions. These areas of the brain control mood, memory, and cognition. 

This 5-HT1A activation or (in this case) enhancement is helpful in combating psychotic episodes related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia. 

2. Anti-anxiety & anxiety-related symptoms

Good news to all of you anxiety sufferers: THCV shows a lot of promise in combating your uncomfortable and oftentimes debilitating symptoms. As you may already know, a panic attack is a common symptom of anxiety (and anxiety-related disorders). 

Luckily, THCV is effective at blocking the onset of panic attacks, though it doesn’t desensitize or suppress your emotions.

THCV is also known to counteract the effects of THC, particularly increased heart rate.

They also found the combination of THC and THCV “increased memory intrusions”

3. Anti-inflammatory 

THCV is known to be a pretty powerful anti-inflammatory.

Researchers found that THCV partly activates the cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptor “in vitro” and also reduces symptoms of pain, inflammation, and swelling via cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and CB2 receptors.

Though this study used rodent test subjects this is still really, really promising and points towards THCV being an useful anti-inflammatory for humans. 

4. Obesity (and obesity related diabetes)

THCV isn’t like THC insofar as it gives you the munchies and opens your appetite wide open to a vast array of delicious snacks. Instead, THCV does the opposite. It suppresses your appetite, which is incredibly useful for obesity and obesity-related diabetes. 

In a 2016 study, researchers found that THCV can not only suppress the appetite but also help regulate blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance.  

5. Neuroprotective (Parkinson’s disease, ALS)

THCV’s antioxidant properties are incredibly beneficial, especially if you’re suffering from Parkinson’s disease. 

In 2011, researchers looked into how THCV can help alleviate tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — they also looked into how it can potentially affect brain lesions caused by the former. They believed THCV “has a promising pharmacological profile for delaying disease progression” by activating CB2 receptors and blocking CB1 receptors. 

Other notable (but inconclusive) benefits

THCV interacts with various different transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, most notably transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 2 (TRPV2), which may contribute to the analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer effects of cannabinoids and cannabis extracts.

It has also shown anti-epileptiform and anticonvulsant properties. This suggests a possible therapeutic application for sufferers of untreatable epilepsy.

Research also shows THCV’s ability to prevent liver injury caused by hepatic ischemia—a condition that doesn’t provide the liver with enough blood or oxygen—by reducing oxidative stress.


THCV oil side effects

THCV’s side-effects are mostly anecdotal but there is some scientific evidence as well.

Most users report appetite loss, drowsiness, and fatigue. However, other users report an increase in energy, alertness, and clear-mindedness. 

This, of course, is very dose-specific and depends largely on your physiological/biological makeup, as well as your overall tolerance to THCV. If you’re a heavy user of THCV, you probably won’t experience side-effects as harshly as a total newbie. 

THCV won’t get you high in small doses (mildly intoxicating in large doses) 

THCV doesn’t get you high per se, especially if taken in low doses. It is, however, mildly psychotropic insofar as providing you with quite a steady high for a shorter amount of time in larger doses.

Anecdotally, THCV users have experienced some strange (and oftentimes conflicting) effects. Some report a “body high” or, rather, a short burst of energy alongside clear thinking, which is actually very useful if you’re looking to combat fatigue or lack of concentration during the day. 

However, others report a very intense high but wrongly assume it’s primarily to do with THCV alone — it’s actually the mixture of THCV and THC. This intense high is typically compared to your brain flying around like a fighter plane at full speed. This, unfortunately, isn’t a high that’s particularly fun or enjoyable — at least not for me personally. 

So, if you’re looking for a mild energy boost coupled with clear thinking, stick to THCV only. 

THCV and ECS

THCV acts very differently to THC.

THC binds to (or interacts with) cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), which is why you experience that high or “otherworldly” feeling. THCV, on the other hand, is still somewhat of a mystery, but this is what we know so far:

  • In small doses, THCV acts as a CB1 antagonist. You won’t get high, nor will your judgement be impaired from this interaction — in fact, this could decrease the intoxicating effects of THC.
  • In large doses, however, THCV switches to a CB agonist, which is an unusual phenomenon and isn’t common amongst many other cannabinoids. This agonism causes mild intoxication — almost a clear-headed high with some energizing qualities (for most users anyway). 

Is THCV legal to buy?

The legality of THCV is ridiculous to the point of near-hilarity. THCV is an analog of THC. THC, as we all know, is the controversial phytocannabinoid responsible for getting you high as shit, which is something the big-wigs in the government buildings don’t like — at all. 

So, because THCV is so closely related to THC, are you in possession of something naughty on a legal level?

Not right now at least.

THCV isn’t listed as a Schedule 1 drug like THC is, even though they’re very similar. This similarity is somewhat worrying, though — there’s the unfortunate possibility that the possession and sale of THCV and its products could lead to prosecution under the Federal Analog Act.

Will THCV show up in a drug test?

THCV is a tricky one. As I’ve already mentioned a few times through this guide, THCV is an analog of THC, which means they’re very closely related. Logic, therefore, dictates that THCV consumption results in a failed drug test. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as that. 

There’s conflicting information about whether THCV can cause a positive drug reading. Anecdotally, many users believe THCV doesn’t cause you to fail a drug test. However, studies have shown THCV to be present in urine samples two weeks after smoking only one marijuana cigarette.

In terms of saliva, blood, or hair testing, there’s not much in the way of research here. If you don’t want to take a chance, it might be best to stay away from cannabis-derived products altogether.

With THC, on the other hand, you’ll fail a drug test if you’ve smoked a joint or two and have a drug test tomorrow.

Let’s take a look at the length of time THC stays in your system and how much THC is roughly needed to show up on a drug test:

Length of time THC stays in your system:

  • Hair – at least 60 days
  • Urine – at least 70 days
  • Blood – at least 7 days
  • Saliva – at least 7 days

How much THC is needed to show up on a drug test:

  • Hair – No cutoff limit
  • Urine  – 50 nanograms per milliliter 
  • Blood  – 1, 2, and 5 nanograms per milliliter
  • Saliva – 4 nanograms per milliliter

Where can you buy THCV products?

Similar to many other “minor” phytocannabinoids present in varieties of cannabis, there aren’t many oil products made from them — they’re typically way too expensive to produce and require a large number of plants to produce a whole bottle of oil.

If you have your sights set on a THCV oil and you can’t seem to find any, Rare Cannabinoid Company has developed a pure THCV oil spray that contains roughly 6.7 mg of THCV per spray with absolutely no THC.

You can also purchase marijuana strains loaded with THCV. African landrace strains such as Durban Poison is a great choice. Hybrid strains are also a fantastic choice. These include:

  • Jack The Ripper
  • Pineapple Purps
  • Doug’s Varin
  • Pink Boost Goddess

Just remember, these strains contain THC and will get you high. If this makes you uncomfortable, I recommend avoiding these strains completely and sticking with a THCV isolate, which comes in powder form. 

THCV isolates are rare and not commonly found on the market. Don’t worry, though. You don’t have to do much digging. I have a recommendation for you. 

Rhizo Sciences have formulated a 98+% THCV isolate derived purely from industrial hemp. It’s quite pricey, though, so be prepared for your bank account to take a slight hit. 

Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Cannabinoids if you’d like to learn more about other Cannabinoids and their benefits.