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THCV From Cannabis Might Be Best Bet For Treating Diabetes

THCV for diabetes
Written by Sarah Friedman

The diabetes issue is one of the many growing health problems in the US, and beyond, spurred on, no doubt, by modern food systems, and generally unhealthy lifestyles. Though taking a medication will never take the place of healthy living behaviors, cannabis compound THCV might be the best bet for treating the symptoms of diabetes.

For those with weight issues, using THCV for help with diabetes symptoms, might be the best bet. Cannabis and Hemp provides tons of useful medical and recreational compounds like THCV, Delta 10, THC-O and Delta-8 THC. This alternate form of THC produces less psychoactive effect, less couch locking, and less anxiety, while providing nearly all the benefits of delta-9. We believe in making sure people get the products they need. Take a look at our selection of Delta-8 THC products, as well as THCV, and many more compounds, to find the right product for you.

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What is diabetes?

Diabetes, technically called diabetes mellitus, is an entire grouping of metabolic disorders that relate to elevated blood sugar levels over time, and a lack of insulin. Diabetes is the root of many other health issues, and when left untreated, can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, the need to amputate body parts, and even death. Here are the different kinds of diabetes, though all types deal with the inability to produce enough insulin, or the body not responding properly to the insulin produced.

  • Type I – Often known as ‘juvenile diabetes’, this type of diabetes is a result of an autoimmune response which causes the death of beta cells in the pancreas. Beta cells are responsible for synthesizing and secreting insulin, which means in these cases, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, and those with this disorder require insulin from outside in order to survive. Why the autoimmune response happens that causes the loss of beta cells, is unknown. This type of diabetes is often referred to as ‘insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus’.
  • Type II – Often called ‘adult-onset diabetes’, this disorder has to do with insulin resistance, in which case cells don’t respond to the insulin around them appropriately. Progression of type II diabetes can lead to a lack of insulin overall. This type of diabetes is generally caused by being overweight or not getting enough exercise (or a combination of the two.) Since it doesn’t relate to an actual inability of the body to produce insulin, its called ‘non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus’.
blood sugar levels
  • Gestational diabetes – This third type of diabetes is specific to pregnant women. It occurs in women who have no previous issues with diabetes, but whose pregnancies cause high blood sugar levels to develop. This condition is temporary due to the pregnancy, and the symptoms go away upon the pregnancy ending.
  • Prediabetes – This isn’t a specific type of diabetes, but relates to having high blood sugar levels, that simply aren’t high enough to consider type II diabetes. It can be expected that the majority of people who get this diagnosis, will end up with type II diabetes if they do not change their lifestyle.

A couple things to know: when talking about ‘blood sugar levels’, we’re talking about the glucose level in the blood. And when referring to insulin, we’re talking about the hormone produced by the body in the pancreas that’s responsible for getting the glucose from the bloodstream to the cells of the body. Since this deals with sugars, it means those with diabetes must be careful what they eat in terms of simple and complex sugars. Simple sugars/carbohydrates are what is found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Complex sugars/carbohydrates, are what is found in bread, pastries, and anything else considered a carbohydrate.

What is THCV?

At this point, whether a person agrees or not, it should be well understood that the cannabis plant is being looked to as a remedy for a number of different health concerns, with varying amounts of research, historical evidence, and anecdotal data to back up claims. But this doesn’t mean every part of the plant is good for everything, and sometimes it takes researching different compounds within a plant to establish which parts can be beneficial, and for what.

As it turns out, one of the newer cannabinoids to make headlines recently, and enter into the unregulated cannabis market of America, is THCV. So, what is this compound? THCV stands for tetrahydrocannabivarin, and it’s a homologue of delta-9 THC. This means it differs from delta-9 in terms of a repeating unit, but is otherwise the same. In this case it has to do with propyl side chains. Delta-9 has three carbon atom side chain, whereas THCV has a five carbon atom chain. This difference in the number of carbon atoms in the chain, makes for two compounds which a body responds to differently. THCV is a CB1 antagonist, and a CB2 partial agonist. This means, it disrupts – or interferes with – actions at the CB1 receptors, and binds to CB2 receptors where it can activate it, but not fully. In contrast, delta-9 is a CB1 agonist.

THCV does not start as THCA – like delta-9, but rather has a precursor of CBGVA (cannabigerovarin acid). This then breaks down to THCVA (tetrahydrocannabivarin carboxylic acid), which is then decarboxylated to form THCV.

Cannabis & THCV for diabetes

There are a couple things about THCV that make it a possible answer for the growing diabetes problem. The first thing about THCV is that it can effect appetite. Most of us are aware of the phenomenon of ‘munchies’ whereby you smoke a little pot and then get insanely hungry, sometimes to ridiculous and inhuman levels. This effect can often cause people to overeat, because the delta-9 THC is acting as an agonist at the CB1 receptor.

Conversely, THCV is an antagonist at the CB1 receptor, and has shown to reduce hunger, thereby reducing food intake (or the desire for food intake). While it hasn’t undergone testing in humans, it has shown hypophagia effects in mice, meaning it can suppress appetite and food intake. This was true in mice that had, and had not, eaten. It was found in this study: Synthetic and plant-derived cannabinoid receptor antagonists show hypophagic properties in fasted and non-fasted mice, that food suppression continued for 6-8 hours after administration, with the same results for four days straight.

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No rebound effect was noticed, meaning the animals went back to their regular feeding routine by the next day. It was found however, that when a THCV-rich extract was used (as opposed to pure THCV), the hunger and food intake suppression didn’t happen, which the scientists expect might have been because of residual amounts of delta-9, which impacted the THCV’s ability to work.

THCV has shown yet another useful property for dealing with diabetes, particularly as it relates to obesity. THCV seems to have properties that can help with the glucose intolerance often experienced by obese people. Once again done with mouse models, this study: The cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) ameliorates insulin sensitivity in two mouse models of obesity highlights how THCV can affect insulin resistance.


The study authors didn’t actually see a significant affect on food intake or weight reduction, but they did see THCV reduce glucose intolerance, depending on the dose given. It reduced the glucose intolerance in genetically obese mice, and improved glucose tolerance with increased insulin sensitivity in dietary-induced obese mice. THCV was also seen to restore insulin signaling in hepatocytes (liver cells) and myotubes (muscle fibers). What this means is, regardless of whether the mice were fat by nature, or by nurture, the THCV improved glucose tolerance, and insulin signaling, and in the case of being fat by nurture, also increased sensitivity to the insulin that was present.

These studies were done in mice, and more will have to be done with humans to verify this is true for humans as well. The preliminary understanding as per the mice studies, is that THCV – at the right doses – can affect appetite and food intake, as well as glucose intolerance and insulin sensitivity and signaling. Considering how much of America, and how much of the world, is growing horizontally, the ability of THCV to provide help for diabetes, might make it one of the best, and most useful, benefits of cannabis.

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Why do we care if THCV is good for treating diabetes?

To give an idea of why this condition deserves some extra attention, according to the World Health Organization:

  • The number of worldwide diabetes cases rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Considering that obesity levels have increased threefold since 1975 on a global level, with a staggering 42.4% of the US population weighing in at obese levels in 2017-2018, the expected number of diabetes cases will only rise from here.
  • There was a 5% increase in premature death rates between 2000-2016 due to diabetes.
  • In 2019 alone, there were approximately 1.5 million deaths directly related to diabetes.
  • In 2012 alone, 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood sugar levels.

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When looking just at the US, according to

  • As of 2018 numbers, about 10.5% of the US population has diabetes, which equals about 34.2 million people. Of these cases, only 1.6 million relate to type I diabetes, and the rest denote cases that exist purely because of bad health issues.
  • Only about 26.8 million of the previous number have been diagnosed. The rest are undiagnosed cases.
  • There are approximately 1.5 million new diagnosed cases per year.
  • As of 2015, 88 million people in America have prediabetes.
  • In 2017, diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death in the US, accounting for 83,564 deaths where diabetes was named as an underlying factor on the death certificate, and a total of 270,702 death certificates that year which mentioned diabetes as a cause of death.
  • The previous bullet point only relates to reported diabetic deaths, whereas studies have found that as many as 60% of diabetic deaths may never be attributed properly to the disease, making it highly underreported.
  • The total cost of dealing with diagnosed diabetes is approximately $327 billion per year, based on numbers from 2017.

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That the world is getting fatter at break neck speeds is something we all kind of know. It’s everywhere around us. In the extra-large size clothing, in the horribly unhealthy food (and increasingly large portions of it), in the lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyles, and in the expanding waistlines that just seem to expand out further.

Technically, we don’t need a cannabis compound, we need to eat better and exercise more. But people don’t always have the time or education be as healthy as they should, and for this reason, having something that can aid those having issues, becomes more crucial. In a better world, we’d make sure people were actually taking care of themselves appropriately. In this one, we’re lucky to have cannabis compounds like THCV, which offer help for those suffering from ailments like diabetes.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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About the author

Sarah Friedman

I look stuff up and and write stuff down, in order to make sense of the world around. And I travel a lot too.