Extraction Products

THCv and Diabetes: Is There a Link?

Written by Lydia Kariuki

In 2018, 10.5% of Americans were suffering from diabetes; this translates to about 34 million adults. Roughly 90-95% of people with diabetes suffer from type 2 diabetes which is largely influenced by diet and other lifestyle factors. [1]

Diabetes is a disease that is related to insulin production and functioning. In type 1 diabetes, the body fails to produce enough insulin, while in type 2 diabetes, the body loses sensitivity to insulin.

Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for the regulation of blood glucose or sugar levels. The long-term buildup of sugar in the blood causes damage to vital organs in the body.

People suffering from diabetes must grapple with long-term effects of the disease which may cause diabetic nephropathy, neuropathy, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, hearing impairment, and blindness in severe cases.

What is THCv?

Tetrahydrocannabivarin, abbreviated THCv, is one of the numerous cannabinoids found in cannabis. THCv is a homologue of the cannabinoid that causes intoxicating effects—delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While THC has a pentyl (5-carbon) side group, THCv has a propyl (3-carbon) group. [2] This slight difference in their structures causes significant differences in the effects that they cause. For example, while THC stimulates appetite, THCv has a suppressing effect on the same.

Is There a Link Between THCv and Diabetes?

Recently, attention has been drawn towards THCv’s potential in managing type 2 diabetes. Here are a few interesting studies to note.

THCv Increases Insulin Sensitivity

A (mouse model) study published in 2013 showed that THCv increased insulin sensitivity and improved glucose tolerance without altering plasma lipids. [3]

In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin. Therefore, one treatment approach would be to increase the sensitivity of the body to insulin.

The researchers concluded that “THCv is a new potential treatment against obesity-associated glucose intolerance with pharmacology different from that of CB1 inverse agonists/antagonists.” [3]

THCV Improves Glycemic Control

In another study conducted in 2016, THCv decreased fasting plasma glucose levels and increased pancreatic β-cell function. [4] This was a randomized, placebo-controlled study involving 62 subjects (42 male, 20 female) with type 2 diabetes; THCv was administered at 5 mg twice per day. CBD was also tested at 100 mg twice per day but did not demonstrate significant effects. The researchers concluded that THCv “could represent a new therapeutic agent in glycemic control in subjects with type 2 diabetes.” [4]

These studies demonstrate THCv’s potential role in managing type 2 diabetes. If it shows similar effects in large clinical trials, THCv could offer hope to the millions across the globe who are battling with the incapacitating effects of diabetes.

Image source



  1. Wu, Yanling, et al. “Risk Factors Contributing to Type 2 Diabetes and Recent Advances in the Treatment and Prevention.” International Journal of Medical Sciences,11, no.11, 2014, pp.1185-200, doi:10.7150/ijms.10001. Journal Impact Factor = 2.399, Times Cited = 73 (PMC)
  2. De Meijer, E.P.M., & Hammond, K.M. “The Inheritance of Chemical Phenotype in Cannabis sativa L. (V): Regulation of the Propyl-/Pentyl Cannabinoid Ratio, Completion of a Genetic Model.” Euphytica, 210, no.2, 2016, pp.291–307,doi:10.1007/s10681-016-1721-3. Journal Impact Factor = 1.680, Times Cited = 39 (PMC)
  3. Wargent, T., et al. “The Cannabinoid Δ(9)-Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCv) Ameliorates Insulin Sensitivity in Two Mouse Models of Obesity.” Nutrition & Diabetes, vol.3, no.5, 2013, p.68. Journal Impact Factor= 3.098, Times Cited = 14 (PMC)
  4. Khalid, A., et al. “Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabivarin on Glycemic and Lipid Parameters in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Group Pilot Study.” Diabetes Care, vol.39, no.10, 2016, pp.1777-1786. Journal Impact Factor= 15.270, Times Cited = 25 (PMC)

About the author

Lydia Kariuki