What is a Weed Diet? A Guide to THCV Gummies and Strains for Losing Weight

weed diet
By Rebecca Olmos Updated March 8th

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

Obesity is a disease that affects almost half of the American population. Excess body weight puts pressure on bones and joints and can lead to various other health issues, like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and impact the overall quality of life. 

An extensive list of triggers like illness, hormones, stress, lack of exercise, or injury can bring about weight gain. These factors, alongside unhealthy or unmindful eating habits, can cause the body to hold on to extra weight.

Indulging in cannabis often triggers a phenomenon that stimulates the appetite called the “munchies,” which is the sudden urge to eat (and, more often than not, to eat more than what you would have if you weren’t under the influence). 

Since maintaining a healthy weight is a vital part of a balanced lifestyle, many cannabis consumers wonder how they can resist the temptation of overeating caused when they use their infused products. 

It may come as a surprise, but the latest cannabinoid to grab consumers' attention, THCV, may regulate the appetite for the better. In fact, there’s even reason to believe that this close relative to THC may be able to help people lose weight.

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What is THCV?

THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is a major cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. This well-known chemical compound is produced in abundance, and it’s responsible for interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to create the intoxicating, psychoactive feeling associated with cannabis. 

THC may also have a wide variety of therapeutic effects that may aid in alleviating pain, insomnia, and mental health ailments. A primary reason medical cannabis patients turn to high-THC products is that they can help ease nausea and stimulate appetite,1 which can be helpful for those enduring chemotherapy. 

These effects of THC on the body are due to the interaction of the compound with the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the ECS. While the CB1 receptor triggers the intoxicating effects, the CB2 receptor invokes anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive actions.2

For recreational users, this increase in appetite may not be wanted, and it could cause them to indulge in more eating than they would like.

So then, what is THCV?

THCV, or tetrahydrocannabivarin, is another cannabinoid found in the plant. Research has shown that, like THC, THCV also binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors; however, the body responds differently. 

The main difference researchers found between THC and THCV is that THCV seems to have effects on the body that may be beneficial to helping ailments like type 2 diabetes, via glycemic control. 

Researchers discovered that the way the cannabinoid reacts looks different in studies done in controlled settings (invitro) vs. in living specimens (in vivo).3 This finding tells researchers that, although these studies may provide valuable insight, how the cannabinoid responds may depend highly on other factors within the body. 

Most studies done on THCV have been done in vitro or on rats. These studies have, in one review, shown that THCV may also have the potential to decrease appetite and regulate metabolism, as well as increase satiety.4 However, in other studies, researchers found that THCV didn’t affect hunger or weight fluctuation but increased energy expenditure.5

Regardless of the mixed findings of how exactly THCV may interact with the body, cannabis companies have started to market the cannabinoid to consumers looking for weight loss-related effects.

What Does THCV Feel Like?

what is thcv

THCV binds to the CB1 receptors responsible for the intoxicating effects of cannabis, but it doesn’t seem to induce the same psychoactive effects as THC.

However, it shows signs of modulating the effects of THC in the body. This was found in the 5-day case study of 10 human male subjects. Researchers discovered that THCV was indistinguishable from the placebo. While THCV increased intrusive memories, it decreased the intensity of the effects of THC (including its potential effect on heart rate).6

What exactly THCV feels like when ingested may depend on the dosage, the type of product it’s infused into, and the other cannabinoids it is consumed with. Reviews of THCV-rich products suggest they may add energy, creativity, and focus to the user experience. Responses to hunger vary. 

THCV for Weight Loss: Does it Really Work?

thcv for weight loss

Some legal cannabis markets have started to produce cannabis products with different THCV dosages, boasting effects of focus and appetite suppression. Studies suggest that there may be some legitimacy to the cannabinoid's ability to help modulate energy in the body as well as appetite and ailments related to weight, like diabetes. 

How well THCV works in larger-scale populations remains to be studied. For now, a small number of anecdotal experiences suggest that variations of THCV products may result in a boost in energy and a suppressed appetite in some consumers. There seems to be little to no direct feedback regarding the cannabinoid’s effect on weight loss. 

What is a Weed Diet?

With minimal studies, the industry has moved forward in its broad labeling of the effects of THCV, so much so that it has been referenced as a type of ‘weed diet’ to lose weight.

It’s unclear what the specifics of this diet are other than the intake of THCV-rich products. But like all other cannabis products (and most diets), it’s best to consult your doctor and start with small dosages, especially if you’re concerned about any weight-related conditions.

It’s important to note that cannabis is not a recommended weight loss aid. Some users find that it may aid in symptoms related to weight fluctuation, but only indirectly. 

Ask a Budtender: What is the Best Weed for Weight Loss?

indica and sativa strains

THCV is found naturally in the cannabis plant, though not in high concentrations like with THC. THC can be found anywhere from 0.3% (in CBD-rich hemp varieties) to upwards of 32%. THCV, on the other hand, is usually found in trace levels below 1% and is categorized as a minor cannabinoid.

Some cultivars, or strains, are known to have higher levels of THCV than others and may be recommended by budtenders to consumers who are curious about the effects of the cannabinoid on body weight or energy levels.

Remember that the selection of cultivars and level of cannabinoids in each found in your local dispensary may vary significantly. The ones listed below can have THCV levels of up to 1%.

  • Durban Poison – This is a treasure of a cultivar due to its landrace lineage. Medical and recreational consumers state it may produce uplifting, stimulating, and energizing effects. It is categorized as a sativa variety with earthy and spicy aromas of wood and pine.
  • Doug’s Varin – This is a rare find with a reputation among cannabis users for suppressing appetite. It’s also noted to have effects of creativity and focus and smells of citrus and pine. 
  • Skunk #1 – While this cultivar is high in THCV, it has been noted by users to stimulate appetite rather than inhibit it. It may be better suited for those looking for increased focus and the savory aromas and flavors of skunk and tobacco. Skunk #1 is rarely on dispensary shelves these days, but its genetics can be found in other well-known strains that may be easier to find, like Granddaddy Purple.
  • Red Congolese – This is a sought-after strain for its user-reported potential to produce energetic, focused effects. This may be due, in part, to its THCV levels. It’s another landrace, sativa-categorized cultivar with spicy, nutty flavors. 
  • Willie Nelson – Named after the music icon and cannabis enthusiast, this strain is an award winner. It leaves many users feeling clear-headed and creative without the munchies. 

If you cannot find these high-THCV strains, you can look for cultivars with similar genetics or ask your budtender for any other THCV-rich options.

It’s worth noting that not all flower is tested or labeled with THCV percentages. It’s more common for just THC, CBD, and total active cannabinoids (TAC) to be listed. THC levels and TAC levels may give insight into how rich the cultivar is in minor cannabinoids like THCV. 

THCV Products for Weight Loss

thcv strains

There is limited evidence that THCV can promote weight loss. However, various THCV products are on the market as it can be isolated and infused into edibles, capsules, tablets, and tinctures. These tend to have higher levels of THCV than are typically found in flower. THCV-rich edibles may be found in hemp-derived, CBD-rich, and high-THC varieties.

Here are a few brands and products marketed for their high THCV levels.

THCV edibles

  • Heavy Hitters – THCV energy Gummy 20mg THC:10mg THCV
  • Kikoko – Boost Mints THC: THCV 1:1
  • Kikoko – Creativi-Tea THC: THCV, 2:1

THCV tinctures

  • Jade – Clarity, THC: THCV, 2:1
  • Sunny Skies CBD, 600mg

THCV vapes

  • Heavy Hitters – Durban Venom THC: THCV, 3:1
  • 3 Chi – Delta8: THCv, 7:1

THCV capsules 

  • Level – Stimulate THCV 4mg per tablet

THCV products are still relatively new to retailers, so the availability will depend on the region you’re in.

Diet Weed Edibles

Although many edibles that include THCV are marketed and labeled to aid in weight loss, there is limited evidence to suggest this is the case. Some strains or products are reported by patients to alter consumers' moods, increasing uplifting, energetic effects and making physical activity more enjoyable. 

Cannabis is also touted as a pain reliever, so those who suffer from any ailments that affect their mobility due to pain may find a range of cannabinoids helpful to improve their experience with movement.

Edibles may also have added ingredients that work against diet goals, like sugar and high-fat ingredients. But you can also make edibles at home utilizing strains high in THCV (or cultivars that you already know help you manage your eating and exercise). Try infusing cannabis into olive oil to elevate all your at-home, well-balanced meals.  

Precautions When Using THCV

thcv effects

Since THCV is found in many hemp-derived, CBD-rich products, it is often marketed through online retailers. Unfortunately, counterfeit products are a reality of shopping online for cannabis. It’s important to look into the validity of the business when purchasing federally-legal products outside of a licensed dispensary. 

Products purchased from a licensed dispensary are lab-tested for potency and purity. You should be able to access lab reports via QR codes on the packaging. If you can’t find the lab tests, ask the shop associates.

If you have diet restrictions, read the label to ensure the product and its ingredients suit your needs. 

It’s important to note that THCV is a minor cannabinoid; its effects are still being studied, and consumer feedback varies. If you’re considering using THCV products for weight loss, speak with your doctor first. And as always, start with low dosages and be mindful of your experience.

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THCV FAQ

Is THCV legal?

Yes. Since THCV is found naturally in both the hemp and high-THC cannabis varieties, it can be found in federally-legal hemp products, legal adult-use markets, and in medical cannabis.

What substances or drugs are not recommended to mix with THCV?

It’s not recommended to consume cannabis with any other drugs. How THCV, specifically, reacts to different drugs remains to be studied. For now, it’s best to consult with your doctor or refrain from mixing substances. 

How long before the weight loss effect takes?

Since little evidence has been gathered about the direct effects of THCV on weight loss, there is little known about how fast it could affect weight loss. And not all consumers will experience the same effects, regardless of dosage or time. It may be best to take notes on dosage and effects as you continue to use your products.

References

  1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, et al. “Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids.” Nih.gov, National Academies Press (US), 12 Jan. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425767/. ↩︎
  2. Ashton J, Glass M. The Cannabinoid CB2 Receptor as a Target for Inflammation-Dependent Neurodegeneration. Current Neuropharmacology. 2007;5(2):73-80. doi:https://doi.org/10.2174/157015907780866884 ↩︎
  3. McPartland JM, Duncan M, Di Marzo V, Pertwee RG. Are cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin negative modulators of the endocannabinoid system? A systematic review. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2015;172(3):737-753. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.12944 ↩︎
  4. Abioye A, Ayodele O, Marinkovic A, Patidar R, Akinwekomi A, Sanyaolu A. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV): a commentary on potential therapeutic benefit for the management of obesity and diabetes. Journal of Cannabis Research. 2020;2(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-020-0016-7 ↩︎
  5. Wargent ET, Zaibi MS, Silvestri C, et al. The cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) ameliorates insulin sensitivity in two mouse models of obesity. Nutrition & Diabetes. 2013;3(5):e68-e68. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/nutd.2013.9 ↩︎
  6. Englund, Amir, et al. “The Effect of Five Day Dosing with THCV on THC-Induced Cognitive, Psychological and Physiological Effects in Healthy Male Human Volunteers: A Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Crossover Pilot Trial.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, vol. 30, no. 2, 17 Nov. 2015, pp. 140–151, https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881115615104. Accessed 7 Oct. 2019. ↩︎

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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