Many of us lead hectic lives. With work deadlines to beat, families to raise, and numerous other commitments requiring our attention, we can be forgiven for forgetting about ourselves. And sometimes, this comes at a cost, especially if we don’t watch what we eat.
Data from the CDC reveals that nearly 42% of American adults aged 20 years and above are overweight. It appears children are not spared either, with roughly 13% suffering a similar fate. Certainly not an ideal state of affairs.
But with time seemingly in short supply for going to the gym et al., what other weight loss options are there? Well, a name that has been doing the rounds in health and wellness circles is THCV. Short for tetrahydrocannabivarin, this cannabis compound exhibits properties that may cause weight loss.
Is it something you should perhaps consider if you are struggling with weight? Well, let’s see what science says.
- THCV is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with potential appetite-suppressing properties.
- Like other cannabinoids, THCV influences the endocannabinoid system by antagonizing CB1 receptor activity.
- Human studies have not established any side effects of THCV, so it is presumably safe.
What is THCV, aka “Diet Weed”?
THCV is a THC-lookalike popular for its ability to curb appetite. Also known as the “diet weed,” this naturally occurring cannabinoid lacks the psychoactive effects of THC.
This is because, unlike THC, THCV is a neutral antagonist at the CB1 receptor. It is not clear why THCV acts differently at this receptor despite the striking similarities to THC. However, researchers think it could be due to the differences in their alkyl side chains and origins.
THC has a 5-carbon (pentyl) side chain, while THCV has a 3-carbon (propyl) alkyl group. Also, THCV originates from cannabigerovanic acid (CBGVA), while THC comes from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA).
And while THC is psychoactive, THCV is non-psychoactive. In fact, THCV has been shown to reduce THC’s psychoactive effects when taken together. Due to its molecular structure, THCV predominantly produces effects similar to CBD.
However, as a minor cannabinoid, THCV exists in small quantities in landrace Sativas in Africa, India, Pakistan, China, and Nepal. But this won’t impede growers from exploiting THCV’s potential health benefits, thanks to selective breeding.
Does THCV help you lose weight?
Like all cannabinoids, THCV exerts its effects via the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This vast network of endogenous ligand receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes is thought to be involved in numerous functions in the body, such as:
- Mood regulation
- Pain perception
- Inflammatory and immune responses
- Temperature control
- Learning and memory
The ECS is a self-regulating system that relies on signals produced in the body to do its job. However, phytocannabinoids like THC, CBD, CBC, and the rest have also been shown to stimulate the ECS. This triggers the production of the ligand molecules, e.g., anandamide, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and endorphins, to mediate the necessary physiological processes.
These ligand molecules are usually produced on demand, i.e., when there is an imbalance in the body. For example, when you are stressed, your body produces a hormone called cortisol to help it cope.
However, too much cortisol in the system can be detrimental to your health. So the levels must revert to normal as soon as possible. One way the body does this is by releasing endorphins (endogenous morphine) to diminish pain perception and induce sedation.
The same check-and-balance principle applies to weight loss. There are internal mechanisms the body uses to maintain a healthy weight. However, sometimes these systems are overwhelmed and become less efficient. This is where THCV might help.
Studies show that THCV may reduce appetite by shutting down the CB1 receptors. It has also been shown that THCV aids weight loss by improving the functionality of areas in the brain that become less efficient due to obesity.
Remember we said the body has internal mechanisms to maintain a healthy weight? It turns out it does this through a hormone called leptin. this hormone controls feelings of hunger. At higher concentrations, leptin increases the urge to eat and vice versa. Interestingly, THCV can reduce serum leptin concentrations, thus reducing food intake.
Moreover, there is evidence that THCV supports weight loss by increasing energy expenditure and a sense of satiety. These effects make THCV a potential candidate for developing treatment interventions for life-threatening diseases like diabetes and obesity.
Though promising, these results are preliminary and are mostly based on animal studies. THCV is a novel cannabinoid, so not much is known about it. But with an increasingly accommodative environment, cannabis research will undoubtedly thrive and yield more insights.
What Is the Connection Between THCV and Weight Loss?
The basic principle around weight gain is simple – more calories in, fewer calories out. And it all starts by not controlling how much and what you eat.
Incidentally, once you start putting on weight, leptin becomes less efficient. this hampers communication between the brain and leptin receptors. The body misconstrues this breakdown in communication to imply your leptin levels are low.
Therefore, it stimulates the production of more leptin. And as mentioned earlier, high leptin levels increase your hunger pangs. See where this is going? So you eat and eat, putting on more and more weight, and the cycle continues. This is one of the reasons why some people with obesity find it rather difficult to lose weight.
THCV starts by addressing the root cause of the problem – indiscriminate feeding. So, it suppresses your appetite but makes you feel full nonetheless. It also increases your energy expenditure. This three-pronged approach to weight loss makes lots of sense.
By increasing energy expenditure and lowering food intake, you essentially burn more calories than you consume. This is the fundamental principle of losing weight.
However, note that THCV can only reduce appetite at lower doses. At higher doses, it behaves like THC and can even induce mild psychoactive effects. This observation reinforces a running theme in cannabinoid use: more is not always better.
What Research Says About THCV and Appetite Suppression
Research on THCV is still young, so most information about it is preliminary. That said, THCV’s appetite-suppressing properties have been subjected to rigorous studies.
So far, research contends that THCV may offer relief for people with obesity. A study showed that 5 – 7.5 milligrams of THCV may promote weight loss by inhibiting CB1 receptors. THC, on the other hand, boosts your appetite levels by activating the CB1 receptors though this is not the only effect associated with CB1 receptor activation.
A recent Forbes experiment assessing the weight-losing properties of cannabinoids found that a proprietary hemp product containing CBD, THCV, and CBDV helped participants lose up to 22 pounds within 90 days. The control group who took a placebo instead gained weight or lost none.
While THCV may aid weight loss, experimenters’ experiences indicate that people respond differently. This is to say not everyone will lose weight when taking THCV. So, more research is needed to establish the tipping point where it effectively quells appetite.
What Is the Proper THCV Dose for Weight Loss?
The downside of cannabinoid therapy (if we can call it that) is that dosing is largely imprecise. Unlike conventional medicines, where dosing is rigidly structured, cannabinoids act differently in people.
So a dose that works for one person might not work for another because we are all built differently in terms of metabolism, body fat content, or tolerance. So there is no “proper” THCV dose for weight loss per se.
Typically, lower doses have been shown to be more effective at achieving the beneficial effects of cannabinoids. In the case of THCV, 5 – 7.5mg may effectively reduce appetite. For a safer experience with cannabinoids, start with low doses and maintain for at least a week.
You can increase by an equivalent dose if no observable change is seen. The idea is to gradually raise the doses until you reach your “sweet spot.” this also gives you time to assess how you respond to cannabinoids.
Is THCV Stronger Than THC?
Comparing THCV to THC is like comparing oranges to lemons. Both compounds have unique pharmacological profiles and stimulate diverse effects. For example, THC is psychoactive, while THCV is not (at least in low doses). The psychoactive effects of THCV are observable at higher doses, and even then, they are mild.
Cannabinoids are thought to be more beneficial when used together due to the “entourage effect.” so taking THCV and THC together might be a better idea because the former can neutralize the latter’s psychoactive effects.
Moreover, research shows that cannabinoids like CBD and THC are more effective together in managing pain than alone. This is why nabiximols combine THC and CBD in a 1:1 ratio. Terpenes are also thought to enhance cannabinoid activity because they are cannabimimetic.
In a nutshell, it is not about which between THCV and THC is stronger but how they complement each other. So, learn more about THCA vs THCV and THCV vs Delta-8 to know how they enhance each other’s effects.
Is THCV Safe?
THCV’s non-psychoactivity is one of its most appreciated attributes. You would probably have to take a huge dose of THCV to get intoxicated, which is why it is considered a safe cannabinoid.
The few human studies on THCV have not reported any adverse side effects. In other words, it is not clear what effects THCV can cause. However, this does not mean throwing all caution to the wind and misusing cannabinoids.
Remember, they still produce bodily effects. Therefore, cannabinoids, more so psychoactive ones like THC and THCP, should be used with extreme care.
Cannabinoids present an exciting new platform for developing therapeutic medicines for life-threatening diseases without effective treatments.
So far, what research has discovered about their pharmaceutical potential is promising. Others, like CBD, are already used to manage hard-to-treat symptoms associated with rare epilepsies. THC is also now used as an ingredient for nabiximols.
These are unquestionably hugely exciting developments. There is no doubt THCV has promising health benefits besides helping control appetite, e.g., anxiety reduction. However, more work is still needed to clarify the many unknowns that cloud cannabinoid pharmacokinetics.
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