Can THCV Manage, Possibly Prevent, Diabetes?
We already know that type 2 diabetes is a manageable, even preventable, disease. However, these are no easy feats considering the host of lifestyle dynamics and medical conditions that can contribute to the development of diabetes. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a huge part as contributor or inhibitor. It can work with or against the patient, depending on its regulation. The effects of the cannabinoid THCV on diabetes, both in mounting anecdotal evidence and studies, point to it as a treatment and prevention for type 2 diabetes.
What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
All humans have an ECS—in fact, all vertebrates and many invertebrates have them. ECS receptors (CB1 and CB2) are located throughout the body (brain, digestive system, lymphatic system). Homeostasis is its main goal: regulation of breath, inflammation, immune response, mood, pain, GI motility, neuroprotection, hormonal balance, sleep/wake cycle, blood pressure, tumor surveillance, and reproduction. Surprisingly, as of 2017 only 13% of medical, nursing and pharmacy programs teach the ECS.
What is THCV?
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a cannabinoid. There are over 113 known cannabinoids with a variety of shared and unique effects which they exert through the ECS.
At low doses, THCV acts as an antagonist of the CB1 receptor, meaning it binds to and blocks the receptor and no psychoactive effects are produced. Interestingly, when doses are increased, THCV becomes an agonist of the CB1 receptor and a very stimulating and clear-headed euphoric state occurs. This happens more quickly than with THC but does not have its longevity.
It is the low-dose THCV, acting as an antagonist of the CB1 receptor, that produces the effects beneficial to type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes patients. THCV has been found to be well-tolerated in clinical studies with diabetes patients.
THCV for Glucose Intolerance
A 2013 study discovered that THCV improves insulin sensitivity in obese mice. The metabolically beneficial effects researchers observed included:
- Reduced glucose intolerance
- Improved glucose tolerance
- Increased energy expenditure
- Improved liver triglyceride levels
- Increased insulin sensitivity
Based on their data, researchers concluded that THCV may be used to treat metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) and/or type 2 diabetes.
Another study in 2016 found similar results. Looking at the efficacy and safety of THCV on type 2 diabetes patients, researchers discovered that THCV:
- Significantly decreased fasting plasma glucose
- Improved pancreatic ß-cell function
- Improved levels of other proteins affecting glucose and good cholesterol
- Was well tolerated in patients and no new safety concerns were found
They concluded that THCV could be a new treatment for glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes.
THCV for Weight Loss
Although THCV has a similar molecular structure to THC, it does not produce the infamous “munchies.” In fact, it does the opposite. As a CB1 antagonist, THCV suppresses the appetite and reduces food intake, resulting in weight loss. With obesity being one of the greatest risks for type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes, this cannabinoid could help prevent and treat these diseases, along with obesity in general.
THCV to Prevent Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is increased in a disease such as diabetes. The body has more toxins to clean and clear from the body. The cascade of inflammation causes cells to eventually die. This demands another process of healing which puts high demands on the already weak body.
THCV has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In a study by Bolognini et al., published in 2010, the research team found that THCV reduces swelling and pain in mice.
THCV: A Weapon to Prevent and A Tool to Treat Diabetes
There is more and more evidence proving that cannabinoids like THCV have therapeutic properties. THCV could forever better the lives of people who have or who are on their way to developing type 2 diabetes. Let’s continue to educate ourselves about this natural way to treat and manage diabetes along with diet and exercise, so that we can make THCV accessible to the patients and potential patients to prevent it. With THCV, we can regulate the ECS and make it work for our health and well-being.
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BélaHorváth et al. “The Endocannabinoid System and Plant-Derived Cannabinoids in Diabetes and Diabetic Complications” The American Journal of Pathology Volume 180, Issue 2, February 2012, Pages 432-442. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002944011010273
Khalid A. Jadoon 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 2016 Oct; 39(10): 1777-1786. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/39/10/1777.abstract
E T Wargent et al. “The cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) ameliorates insulin sensitivity in two mouse models of obesity” Nutrition & Diabetes volume 3, page e68 (2013). https://www.nature.com/articles/nutd20139