The cannabis plant contains over 113 cannabinoids. Best known is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the one that gets you stoned. A cousin is tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). THCV suppresses appetite in contrast to THC, which enhances it, giving you “the munchies”. Because it helps you to lose weight, obviously, anyone suffering from anorexia should avoid THCV.

Obese people, like this one, would be helped by THCV, an ingredient of cannabis. Photo: Tony Alter

Obese people, like this one, would be helped by THCV, an ingredient of cannabis. Photo: Tony Alter

Some strains of cannabis happen to have more THCV. It’s psychoactive, but not as much as THC. It’s classed as a minor cannabinoid because there’s less of it than there is of the biggies, THC and cannabidiol (CBD).

What THCV does

THCV moderates blood sugar levels and lessens insulin resistance. It’s thought to be helpful for osteoporosis and other conditions that affect bones. It might even prevent and relieve panic attacks caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

One study that appeared in the British journal of Pharmacology in 2011 concluded that THCV was of benefit to people afflicted by diseases involving neurodegeneration, of which Parkinson’s disease is one. It stressed that given the anti-oxidant properties of THCV and its ability to activate CB2 but block CB1 receptors, it could delay the progression of Parkinson’s disease and ameliorate its symptoms.

In 2016, a report in the International Journal of Neuropharmacology examined how THCV could help obese people lose weight. Researchers employed MRI machines to study the brain images of people given THCV. The research centred on the idea that as body mass index rises, so does the connectivity between the amygdala and precuneus bits of the brain. The amygdala handles decision-making, emotional responses and processing of memory with anxiety, fear and aggression. The precuneus does aspects of consciousness, episodic memory, reflections upon self and visuospatial processing. THCV reduces this connectivity, thus helping to control food intake.

A study that featured in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes in 2013 read that THCV “produced an early and transient increase in energy expenditure.” Increasing energy expenditure means you lose weight, right? At the same time, glucose intolerance fell. One condition associated with obesity is diabetes, so THCV could help there, too.

An article in the Daily Torygraph in 2012 detailed a report in The Biologist. This linked THCV with appetite suppression. It suggested that THCV improved metabolic efficacy, making animals more sensitive to insulin and protecting the cells that generated it, allowing them to work better and longer. There was a quote from Professor Mike Cawthorne, director of metabolic research at the University of Buckingham, to the effect that THCV raises energy expenditure by increasing the metabolism.

Since THCV appears to lessen the desire for the intake of food, it could be useful for those who find it difficult to stop thinking about food, enabling them to lose weight. And while psychoactive, many people believe it gives a “cleaner high” when consumed sans THC.

Fasting is hard, but doing it with THCV will help.

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