Cannabis and hemp plants contain over 500 unique compounds including cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, and fatty acids. Terpenoids are the aromatic compounds that give cannabis strains their distinct smells. Cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are some of the most popular and researched therapeutic compounds, but other minor cannabinoids are rising in prominence – including cannabidivarin.
Researchers have identified over 100 cannabinoids in cannabis and hemp plants. One of those cannabinoids, cannabidivarin (CBDV), is showing promising results in preliminary studies on nausea, seizures, inflammation, muscle function, and cognitive issues. While CBDV is far from becoming a household name like CBD, here are a few things you should know about this non-intoxicating cannabinoid.
What is CBDV?
CBDV shares many chemical characteristics and effects with CBD. For example, CBDV is a non-psychotropic compound that won’t cause users to feel the signature high of marijuana. Additionally, CBDV research has shown that it can work to reduce seizures, nausea, inflammation, and pain, just like CBD.
CBDV was discovered in 1969 by researchers in the Netherlands. They identified the compound as a CBD homologue, which means it has a similar structure to CBD. CBDV and CBD both have 30 stereoisomers and 7 double bond isomers, but one side chain is shortened by two methyl groups.
You won’t find any CBDV products at any dispensary, but some strains have been shown to contain more CBDV than others. Research has found that CBDV is typically found in C. indica landrace strains from Asia and Africa, specifically from the following countries:
- South Africa
Apart from indica landrace strains sourced from Asia and Africa, higher-than-average CBDV levels have been found in strains that are low in THC and strains that are high in CBD.
The current cannabis market caters to consumers seeking THC-rich cultivars. Fortunately, consumers, researchers, and manufacturers are growing wise to other minor cannabinoids such as CBDV, THCV, and THCA that have medical applications.
CBDV’s effects have only been identified and assessed in a clinical research setting. Initial research on CBDV starting in 2012 used animal models. Preceding trials confirmed that CBDV is effective for a variety of medical conditions. As researchers continue to study CBDV, they are finding that this compound has many similar therapeutic effects to CBD. For now, CBDV has been shown to have significant anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiemetic, and anti-epileptic characteristics.
A 2012 study tested the anticonvulsant effects of CBDV in vitro and in in vivo with mice and rats. Researchers concluded that “these results indicate that CBDV is an effective anticonvulsant in a broad range of seizure models. Also, it did not significantly affect normal motor function, and therefore, merits further investigation as a novel anti-epileptic in chronic epilepsy models.”
In 2013, another group of researchers expanded on the initial 2012 study by examining changes to epilepsy-related gene expression after administering CBDV to epilepsy models. After a chemical convulsant treatment, animal models were given CBDV (400 mg/kg, p.o.). Researchers uncovered “molecular evidence that directly supports behavioral evidence that CBDV exerts significant anticonvulsant effects via oral and other routes of administration.”
Another study in 2013 tested the effects of THCV and CBDV on nausea on rats. Inverse agonists of the CB1 cell receptor promote nausea, while cannabinoid agonists suppress the characteristic gaping reaction displayed by rats, which are incapable of vomiting. Researchers concluded that “neither THCV or CBDV produced a behavioral profile characteristic of CB1 receptor inverse agonists. As well, these compounds may have therapeutic potential in reducing nausea.”
Research in 2018 tested the effects of CBDV on mouse models with Rett syndrome, a rare genetic neurological and developmental disorder that disproportionately affects girls’ motor skills and speech. Other symptoms of Rett syndrome include seizures and muscle spasticity. The study’s main findings include:
- CBDV improved the general health of the animal models
- CBDV rescued the deficit in sociability of the animal models
- CBDV improved motor coordination of the animal models
- CBDV normalized brain weight of the animal models
- GPR55 levels increased in hippocampus of the animal models
A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2019 on CBDV and Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) found that CBDV could benefit patients with DMD. DMD symptoms include muscle weakness and damage, inflammation, skeletal damage such as scoliosis, vision problems, and more. CBDV was shown to reduce inflammation and improve muscular function and locomotion.
Currently, a study is underway on the effects of CBDV in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intractable epilepsy. The double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study will treat 28 patients between the ages of 5 and 18. Researchers are hopeful that CBDV could alleviate some of the symptoms associated with ASD including repetitive behavioral issues, cognitive problems, and communication issues.
GW Pharmaceuticals created the first FDA-approved CBD-based medication called Epidiolex for severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Currently, GW Pharmaceuticals is creating a CBDV-based drug known as GPW42006 to alleviate temporal lobe seizures.
In a press release, Justin Gover, GW’s Chief Executive Officer, said that “whilst the primary focus of GW’s epilepsy research program remains on Epidiolex in pediatric epilepsy, we believe that CBDV may offer an additional treatment advantage in this therapeutic area in the medium and longer term.”
CBDV, as a newly researched cannabinoid, has shown enormous medical potential for a variety of symptoms including seizures, nausea, muscle pain, and more. CBDV’s non-intoxicating properties are relevant for patients that don’t require or want the psychotropic effects of THC. It may be a while until CBDV medication is made more accessible, but current research is building the case for introducing CBDV into modern medicine.