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Cannabinoid Science 101: What Is Cannabidivarin (CBDV)?

Cannabidivarin (CBDV) is a naturally-occurring phytocannabinoid that occurs in small traces in certain strains of the cannabis plant. Although less studied than its more famous counterparts such as THC and CBD, research is beginning to uncover the medical potential of CBDV to treat epilepsy and other neurological conditions.

Cannabidivarin, otherwise known as CBDV, is gaining attention from medical circles due to its potential in treating neurological conditions such as epilepsy. Although there is not as much clinical research for CBDV as for other cannabinoids, it continues to pique the interest of scientists and researchers around the word.

Generally speaking, levels of CBDV vary greatly between strains of cannabis. With that being said, strains that typically have higher levels of CBD usually yield greater levels of CBDV. Higher levels of CBDV also usually indicate lower levels of THC in a strain, therefore suggesting that most high-CBDV strains are non-psychoactive and are less likely to be consumed for recreational reasons.

Chemical structure and properties of the CBDV molecule

CBDV is to CBD what THCV is to THC. Both CBDV and THCV are known as propyl cannabinoids, and they contain a propyl chain instead of a pentyl chain within the molecule. This subtle but important difference means that the propyl molecules can have very different properties to their pentane “parents”.

Although THC and THCV often have effects that counter each other, CBD and its propyl counterpart CBDV appear to have broadly similar applications and effects. CBDV is non-psychoactive, and like CBD, it appears to have strong effectiveness as an anticonvulsant and antiepileptic.

CBDV in the cannabis plant

CBDV has been found in high concentrations in feral or landrace “indica” populations found in northwest India, and in hashish from Pakistan. It is also present in many Mexican populations of cannabis, although in much smaller quantities. Generally, CBDV is found in plants that are higher in CBD and lower in THC.

CBD and THC are known to form via a reaction between cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and CBD synthase or THC synthase respectively. However, CBDV (and THCV for that matter) are biosynthesized using a different pathway. Geranyl pyrophosphate and divarinolic acid undergo a chemical reaction to biosynthesize cannabigerovarin acid (CBGVA). After this step, the pathway is the same as that required to synthesize CBD and THC, whereby cannabinoid synthases break down CBGVA into THCV or CBDV.

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Medical potential of CBDV

CBDV continues to gain attention for its potential to treat quite a variety of different ailments. Currently, its most prominent medical application is in the treatment of seizures. However, it is also being researched for its potential to treat symptoms related to Crohn’s Disease, HIV and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

In one 2013 study, CBDV was explored for its anticonvulsant profile in three rodent models of acute seizure. Researchers concluded that the anticonvulsant effects of CBDV are powerful, although further research is required to assess this anticonvulsant potential in humans.

Interestingly, the mechanism of action by which CBDV suppresses seizures has nothing to do with the CB1 or CB2 receptors. Rather, it is hypothesized to use the transient receptor potential as a means of affecting neuronal behaviour. It is also hypothesized that CBDV may even suppress the expression of certain genes related to epilepsy.

GW Pharmaceuticals has filed a joint patent on a whole plant extract comprising of CBDV and CBD, which they propose for the treatment of neurological conditions, especially those characterised by excitation of the central nervous system. Epilepsy is one of the main targets of this patented product by GW Pharmaceuticals.

In fact, GW Pharmaceuticals has also patented a pharmaceutical invention containing THCV, CBG, CBC and CBDV for treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. Crohn’s is one example, and probably the main culprit for the invention of this formula. Components of the endocannabinoid system along with transient receptor potentials play a key role in gastrointestinal function. As CBDV targets both physiological systems, it is hypothesized that the cannabinoid could be a novel treatment for ailments of this kind.

Finally, in relation to HIV, CBDV is being researched for its potential to manage symptoms. More specifically, this 2002 German study assesses CBDV’s ability to treat HIV-induced neuropathic pain.

At the moment, GW Pharmaceuticals is the driving force when it comes to the research behind CBDV. This pharmaceutical company has been behind the release of Sativex, too, another cannabis-derived pharmaceutical product targeted at epilepsy. However, broader interest in this cannabinoid continues to rise for its unusual activity, and perhaps its scarcity in the world of cannabis.

Cannabidivarin (CBDV) is a naturally-occurring phytocannabinoid that shows potential as an antiepileptic, anticonvulsant and neuroprotectant. Learn more.

What Is CBDV? [Effects, Strains, and More]

At the time of writing, scientists have identified around 120 cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. The illegal status of the drug around the world has impeded research to date. However, Uruguay and Canada have fully legalized cannabis, with Mexico likely to follow. Numerous other countries, and 35 American states (along with D.C.), allow it for medicinal use.

As a result, cannabis research is growing. We are finding out new and exciting things about the plant and its hundreds of compounds.

Cannabidivarin, better known as CBDV, is one of the compounds that has only been researched recently. That the ban on weed has hindered research is unquestionable. Vollner et al. first identified CBDV in 1969.

In 1971, Frans and Merkus wrote about CBDV and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), stating they were ‘two more constituents of hashish.’ It is only recently that CBDV became the subject of detailed research, well over 40 years after its initial identification.

What Is CBDV?

Cannabidivarin is a non-intoxicating compound with a similar structure to CBD. They both have 30 stereoisomers and seven double bond isomers. In general, you’ll find CBDV in plants with high levels of CBD and low amounts of THC. It isn’t an easy cannabinoid to find in any significant amount. Marijuana is the only plant known to produce it, and you don’t find much CBDV in commercial strains.

If you seek a strain high in CBDV, it is best to focus on indica landrace strains from Africa and Asia. Landrace strains are genetically pure, which means they haven’t been impacted by experimentation. Indicas such as Medical Mass and Euphoria may contain relatively high amounts of CBDV. We can say the same for sativas such as Painkiller XL, Royal Medic, and Dance World.

You may also have joy when trying to extract CBDV from hemp. Remember, hemp strains can have a ratio of CBD to THC as high as 100:1. As a result, CBDV could be lurking in the background. As you can probably guess, researchers are trying to discover the medicinal benefits of CBDV. They have conducted several studies within the last decade or so.

Incidentally, you won’t feel a psychoactive ‘high’ from CBDV. Instead, you can expect it to affect you similarly to CBD. The lack of a ‘high’ means we can use CBDV to treat children with conditions such as epilepsy and its associated seizures.

Other potential conditions it could treat include nausea, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s and inflammatory bowel disease.

CBDV’s Possible Medical Effects – The Studies

One of the primary differences between CBD and CBDV is that the latter is shortened by two methyl (CH2) groups in its side chain. Both marijuana compounds have demonstrated potential anticonvulsant activity in human and animal studies.

Compounds such as THC modulate most of their physiological effects via binding with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, cannabinoids such as CBDV, which have anticonvulsant actions, use mechanisms not involving either receptor.

CBDV’s anti-epileptic activity is potentially modulated by the cannabinoid’s effects on the capsaicin receptor, TRPV1. Along with CBD, CBDV has shown an ability to dose-dependently activate and desensitize the TRPA1, TRPV1, and TRPV2 channels. By desensitizing these ion channels, these molecules cause a neuronal hyperexcitability reduction. This helps reduce epileptic activity and associated seizures.

CBDV could inhibit the activity of DAG (diacylglycerol). DAG is the primary enzyme that causes the synthesis of the endocannabinoid 2-AG. However, this particular interaction doesn’t seem to impact the anticonvulsant activity of the cannabinoid.

Big Pharma Is Getting Involved with CBDV

CBDV gained a significant amount of attention in recent times. Big Pharma giant, GW Pharmaceuticals, announced it had started developing it as an experimental compound called ‘GWP42006.’ GW hoped to treat seizures in epilepsy and submitted its product for clinical trials. In early 2018, GW announced that a Phase 2a placebo-controlled study for focal seizure did NOT meet its primary endpoints.

However, the firm stated that it would continue to study the cannabinoid’s use in epilepsy. It also extended investigations to include its possible use in fragile X, Rett syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, and other conditions. Interestingly in October 2017, the European Medicines Agency gave CBDV an ‘orphan designation’ for use in Rett syndrome. It did so again in February 2018 for treatment of Fragile X.

In case you are wondering, ‘orphan’ designation is for drugs that are potentially effective in treating rare diseases. A drug can only receive this status in Europe if it treats a condition that affects no more than 1 in every 2,000 people.

In 2020, the FDA followed the European Medicines Agency by granting orphan designation to CBDV for fragile X and Rett syndromes. Now, Sanobiotec is trailing the cannabinoid for ASD benefits. It is involved in an interventional Phase II study in children with ASD.

Here are the most effective st…

CBDV as an Anticonvulsant

A study by Hill et al. published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in December 2012 looked at CBDV as a possible anticonvulsant in rats and mice. The researchers said that CBDV was an effective anticonvulsant in a broad range of seizure models. Significantly, the cannabinoid also didn’t impact normal motor function. The team concluded that CBDV warranted further investigation as a ‘novel anti-epileptic.’

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intractable childhood epilepsy are closely connected. A study by Hollande of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York is investigating CBDV’s effects in treating ASD issues. These include social functioning & communication problems, and repetitive behavioral issues.

In 2013, Amada et al. discovered that CBDV significantly reduced “PTZ-induced seizure activity and increased latency to the first sign of seizure.”

A study by Iannotti et al., published in ACS Chemical Neuroscience in November 2014, looked at the effects of CBD and CBDV on rats with induced epilepsy symptoms. The team found that both cannabinoids interacted with TRPV1. This channel is responsible for detecting and regulating our body’s temperature and producing sensations of pain.

A recent study, published in Frontiers in Cell Neuroscience in 2019, gave hope to individuals with ASD. The researchers discovered that CBDV treatment could ameliorate autism-like behaviors. However, once again, the test subjects in this case were mice.

CBDV for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) & Rett Syndrome

DMD’s symptoms include irreversible skeletal muscle damage and chronic inflammation. A study by Iannotti et al., published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in May 2019, is relevant. It looked at the performance of non-euphoric cannabinoids from marijuana on muscle quality and performance of dystrophic mice.

The team found that CBDV could not only reduce inflammation but also enhance muscle function. As the compound also improved locomotion, the researchers suggested that the cannabinoid was potentially a novel DMD therapy.

A study by Zamberletti et al., published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in July 2019, also offered interesting results. It discovered that CBDV helped rescue memory defects in mice carrying the same genetic defect as humans with Rett Syndrome. While the compound also helped with neurological effects, these were transient effects.

Speaking of inflammation, a study by Petrocellis et al., published in Acta Physiologica in February 2012, had fascinating results. It found that CBDV could dramatically decrease the gastrointestinal inflammation that accompanies diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s, and irritable bowel syndrome.

CBD to the rescue…

CBDV as an Anti-Nausea Agent

A study by Rock et al., published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in October 2013, looked at the effect of CBDV on rats with nausea. The researchers found that CBDV probably acts as an agonist on CB1 receptors, blocking the nausea response. Despite the positive results, however, the study also concluded that more research is needed to determine CBDV’s effectiveness.

Final Thoughts on CBDV

Preliminary research into CBDV reveals that this cannabinoid could have an array of therapeutic effects. The fact that weed has been illegal all this time has set us back. Remember, researchers first discovered CBDV in 1969. However, there are few studies into its efficacy for treating the symptoms of conditions such as epilepsy before 2012.

Further research will hopefully show us that CBDV is a potentially useful form of alternative medication.

If this happens, we expect breeders to focus on developing high-CBDV strains as they did with CBD. At present, not many strains contain a reasonable level of CBDV; expect that to change shortly.

Now that the FDA allows its use, albeit, in a very limited sense, the future for CBDV looks bright.

There is much more to cannabis than just THC and CBD. We take a look at the lesser-known cannabinoid CBDV and its potential benefits for health.