Thanks to THCV, marijuana food manufacturers are launching weight control products

Dealing with a healthy appetite and stable blood sugar levels is typically not related to cannabis use, but scientists and industry leaders weigh THCV, a rare cannabinoid that acts as a natural stimulant and offers potential help with weight and energy management.

As research into the plant progresses, discoveries of new and rare cannabis compounds have led brands to chase a number of potential effects for consumers beyond the high created by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most common cannabinoid in houseplants. Cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG) have all been added to commercial cannabis products over the last few years, but tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) may be the new, hot cannabinoid on the block.

“The indication we have is that several companies have had this on their radar,” said Cameron Keluche, CEO of Boulder-based SUM Microdose. “It has just been unaffordable to do so at high dosage levels.”

Research into THCV and other rare cannabinoids has been more readily available since hemp production was federally legalized in 2018. Smaller doses of THCV have been shown to be effective over time, though effects at higher doses need to be investigated further, Keluche says. Cannabis farmers have created strains with THCV content as high as 15 percent for commercial extraction.

A manufacturer of sublingual tablets dosed with low amounts of cannabinoids, SUM recently launched two products containing THCV. According to Keluche, the 2.5 milligram THC and THCV tablet promotes healthy blood sugar levels and sustainable energy, while the 2.5 milligram THCV and CBD tablet is targeted at reducing food cravings.

Edibles brands have already worked with THCV in their formulas in smaller doses, he adds, and they are starting to notice increasing interest from consumers. However, it can be a challenge to inform users about THCV and the cannabinoid’s differences from the weeds they have become accustomed to.

Unlike THC, THCV is non-intoxicating in small doses, so users buy more of a dietary supplement than they are anything with the cannabis hum they are used to. However, THCV can still pair with other cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, without internal competition in the body’s endocannabinoid receptors, providing more opportunities for both research and use.

“With a precisely delivered dose, [THCV is] more cost-effective and adaptable for users, ”notes Keluche.

Research on higher doses of THCV – which has been linked to mild intoxicating effects – has also taken place. ONE 2020 survey published by the Journal of Cannabis Research, a publication of Department of Cannabis Research at Colorado State University-Pueblo, found that THCV decreased appetite while increasing satiety and regulating metabolism. According to the study, the results pointed to the cannabinoid as a means of weight loss and management, especially among patients with type 2 diabetes.

The study concluded that THCV could “represent a new therapeutic agent in glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes,” promoting healthy insulin levels, as the endocannabinoid system regulates glucose metabolism in muscle cells.

For Keluche, day-to-day functional use of cannabis is about promoting a balanced endocannabinoid system. From a wellness standpoint, regular and low-dose cannabis use can help consumers incorporate the benefits of the plant into their daily lives and revive a system that has been slowed down by our modern lifestyle, he argues.

“Hemp used to be a big part of people’s daily lives, but when it was cut cold turkey in the twentieth century, people stopped using it regularly as they used to,” he explains. “Traditionally, you were able to get your daily intake of nutrients from many of these cannabinoids.”

The endocannabinoid system also controls energy homeostasis, while affecting the function of food intake in the central nervous system, something that THCV helps balance, says Keluche, so users feel healthier, stronger and more energetic throughout the day.

Other cannabis brands have been eager to incorporate THCV into their formulas. In 2018, Broomfield-based ECS Brands partnered with the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health to complete ninety days human clinical trial on its product, Nitro-V, which contains 2.41 milligrams of THCV, in combination with CBD, THC and other compounds. The study, published in 2021, found a 61 percent reduction in hunger and 40 percent less food cravings among participants, along with a 52 percent decrease in anxiety.

Wana Brands, one of North America’s largest edible companies, has recently partnered with ECS to incorporate its THCV formula into Wana Fit, a new line of THC-free gums aimed at weight loss. Denver-based Keef Brands, known for its popular line of cannabis-infused beverages, has just launched its own range of beverages made with THCV and THC, designed for appetite suppression and control.

As the pool of cannabis research expands, Keluche believes it is only a matter of time before public education about our endocannabinoid systems increases and again promotes more general engagement.

“We’re trying to reintroduce this as a way to give your body the right tools and help it get back to what you feel comfortable with,” he concludes. “Everyone’s version of sound is different. We want to help people promote whatever it is, and that’s why many people are safe going the cannabinoid route – but it will not affect everyone in the same way. ”

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