As our scientific knowledge of cannabis grows, we're gaining a better understanding of how the plant's complex chemical makeup shapes how our bodies and minds respond to different strains. From cannabinoids to terpenes and flavonoids, we're learning that even the smallest molecules can have a big impact on how a particular cannabis strain makes us feel, along with the health benefits it can provide. A perfect example of this is the trace cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).
THCV is a minor cannabinoid usually found in trace amounts in most cannabis strains, or “cultivars.” But its slim profile hasn't prevented THCV from gaining the attention of researchers and recently, a foothold in the health and wellness segment of the cannabis market.
What's the skinny on high-THCV strains?
Over the last decade, studies involving human participants and animal models have identified THCV's potential to suppress appetite in people struggling to lose weight, regulate blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes, reduce epilepsy-related seizures, delay neurodegeneration associated with Parkinson's disease and ameliorate the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Beyond the medical and therapeutic potential of THCV, consumers are increasingly turning to high-THCV strains for their energizing, stimulating and uplifting effects. And no wonder; cultivars with high levels of THCV tend to share a genetic lineage with landrace sativas known for their invigorating highs.
But it's important to note that THCV itself is not psychoactive. THCV appears to slightly reduce the psychoactive effects of THC. That alone makes THCV-rich strains an attractive choice for consumers seeking a high-functioning experience. And for those who use cannabis as part of their workouts and wellness regimes, THCV's ability to quiet the pangs of problematic munchies make it a worthy companion to diet and exercise.
5 high-THCV strains you should know about
With all the benefits this cannabinoid boasts, you're probably wondering why there aren't more high-THCV strains and cannabis products out there. THCV's relative rarity makes it not only hard to find but difficult and costly to isolate and extract.
Still, there are a handful of cannabis cultivars that are naturally high in THCV, and almost all of them stem from landrace sativas originating in Africa. They may be harder to track down, but they're worth the extra effort. If the many benefits of tetrahydrocannabivarin appeal to you, here are five high-THCV strains you need to know about.
Durban Poison: legendary landrace African sativa
Durban Poison originates from the port city of Durban, South Africa and was first imported to the U.S. in the late 1970s by one of America's first international strain hunters, Ed Rosenthal. This award-winning medical sativa has been at the center of the newfound interest in high-THCV strains. With a naturally occurring THCV concentration of nearly 1%, Durban Poison excels at suppressing appetite while inducing energizing and focusing effects of a pure sativa.
Doug's Varin: rare and rich in THCV
The cultivation of Doug's Varin, likely the highest THC strain available today, appears to have been a happy accident. David Lampach, co-founder of Doug's Varin (now owned by Oakland, California-based California Cannabinoids), said the original cultivar stemmed from a Harlequin parent. When the company identified the cultivar's high THCV content, it began using it to develop a family of THCV-rich strains ranging from 3% to 6% THCV.
Today, Doug's Varin is the strain of choice for many concentrates and extract manufacturers producing products such as tinctures and vape pens with very high levels of THCV.
Pink Boost Goddess: the newest high-THCV strain
Pink Boost Goddess, developed by California-based cannabis flower brand Flow Kana, is one of the specialized strains to emerge from the recent hype surrounding THCV. Unveiled in July 2019, Flow Kana says Pink Boost Goddess contains 4.24 percent THCV along with 18.7 percent THC, making it ideal for reducing anxiety and suppressing appetite. Flow Kana grows its high-THCV cultivar outdoors to increase sun exposure and stimulate THCV production.
Unlike other high-THCV strains, which tend to be pure sativas, Pink Boost Goddess is an indica-dominant hybrid with a vanilla flavor and an intense floral terpene aroma.
Pineapple Purps: a “super sativa” with high THCV
Pineapple Purps is as rare as its genetics are esoteric. A cross between Pineapple, Skunk #1 (another high-THCV strain) and Cheese, Pineapple Purps has been dubbed a “super sativa” on account of its energetic, euphoric and low-anxiety effects. Those strong sativa genetics also mean Pineapple Purps has a very high THCV profile, with some lab results measuring the cannabinoid at 4 percent of the flower's dry weight.
Earthy and sweetly citrusy, this high-THCV strain is one you should definitely know about in case you're lucky enough to come across it.
Jack the Ripper: consistently high in THCV
Jack the Ripper's storied lineage is one breeders and growers love to recount, but producing a strain rich in THCV wasn't the goal Subcool The Dank (formerly TGA Subcool) had in mind when the idea occurred to cross a Jack Cleaner female with a Space Queen male. Instead, the plan was to breed a fast-acting Haze strain with extreme THC content. But the results speak for themselves: Jack the Ripper consistently weighs in at 5% THCV or higher, with THC content that ranges from around 15-25%.
Despite those wide variations in psychoactive potency, Jack the Ripper maintains one of the highest THCV profiles of any strain to date. Fortunately, Jack the Ripper has become so cherished among growers and recreational consumers that it's one of the easiest high-THCV strains to find.