Weight loss is a billion-dollar industry that has Americans spending a staggering $33 billion each year on products. While the estimated value of the industry was $250 billion in 2021, the nascent cannabis industry was valued at $13 billion in the same year and is gunning for the $100 billion mark. Will the new cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) help to get it there?
THCV is one of the numerous phytocannabinoids that are present in cannabis sativa. As much as it bears structural similarities to the psychoactive cannabinoid THC, the two are different in many ways.
First, THCV does not trigger psychoactive effects. Anecdotal reports even indicate that like CBD, THCV may offset some of the intoxicating effects of THC. Second, while THC is an appetite stimulant, THCV has the opposite effect; it suppresses the appetite and increases energy metabolism. This has earned it the moniker “diet weed.”
Study Links THCV to Weight Loss
A study that was published in the Journal of Cannabis Research in Jan 2021 demonstrated the appetite-suppressing effects of THCV. The researchers were interested in finding out the therapeutic potential of THCV in managing obesity and diabetes.
The study was a systematic review of electronic peer-reviewed literature that had been published from 1970 to 2019. The following seven keywords were considered for inclusion:
- Cannabis sativa (marijuana)
- Body weight
The researchers found that THCV suppressed the appetite and increased satiety in rodent studies. It was also well tolerated especially when offered together with CBD.
Action at the CB1 receptor
THCV is a structural analog of THC, the two have different actions at the CB1 receptor. While THC is an agonist of this receptor, THCV has antagonistic action there. Unlike THC, THCV suppresses appetite in both fasted and non-fasted mice. This makes THCV a suitable candidate for managing obesity. The researchers concluded that there’s a need for further research to elucidate the weight-reducing properties of THCV.
Pairing Cannabis with Weight Loss
The cannabis industry has attracted the interest of large pharmaceutical companies. Pfizer recently acquired cannabinoid-based company, Arena Pharmaceuticals, at a cost of $6.7 billion. The company is working on an investigational drug, Olorinab, intended for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. HW pharmaceuticals have filed over 100 cannabis-related patents and so have many other big pharma companies.
Both weight loss and cannabis are multi-billion dollar industries that are on a positive growth trajectory and hence are on the radar of multinational drug companies. lt will be interesting to see how big pharma will react if science will at all prove beyond reasonable doubt that THCV is both safe and effective in reducing weight.