At the time of writing, 113 cannabinoids have been identified in the marijuana plant. Research has been impeded due to the illegal status of the drug around the world. However, Uruguay and Canada have fully legalized the herb, while numerous other countries, and 33 American states (along with D.C.), allow it for medicinal use. As a result, research into cannabis is growing, and 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. CBDV was first identified by Vollner et al. in 1969. In 1971, Frans and Merkus wrote about CBDV and Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), stating that they were ‘two more constituents of hashish’. It is only recently that CBDV became the subject of detailed research, well over 40 years after it was first identified.
What is CBDV?
Cannabidivarin is a non-intoxicating compound similar in 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 are seeking 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 are believed to contain ‘relatively’ high amounts of CBDV. The same is said of 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, which means CBDV could be lurking in the background. As you can probably guess, researchers are trying to discover the medicinal benefits of CBDV, and several studies have been conducted 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 CBDV can be used 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. While compounds such as THC modulate most of their physiological effects via binding with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, cannabinoids such as CBDV, which have anticonvulsant actions, use mechanisms NOT involving either receptor.
It is believed that CBDV’s anti-epileptic activity is 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, a fact that helps reduce epileptic activity and associated seizures.
CBDV is also believed to inhibit the activity of DAG (Diacylglycerol), the primary enzyme that causes the synthesis of the endocannabinoid, 2-AG. However, this particular interaction doesn’t seem to have an impact on the anticonvulsant activity of the cannabinoid.
CBDV gained a significant amount of attention when it was announced that Big Pharma giant, GW Pharmaceuticals, had started actively developing it as an experimental compound it 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, and also extended investigations to include its possible use in Rett syndrome, Fragile X, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and other conditions. Interestingly in October 2017, the European Medicines Agency gave CBDV ‘orphan designation’ for use in Rett syndrome, and it did so again in February 2018 for treatment of Fragile X.
In case you are wondering, ‘orphan’ designation is given for drugs that could be effective in treating rare diseases. In Europe, a drug can only receive this status if it treats a condition that affects no more than 1 in every 2,000 people.
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 CBV’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, which is responsible for detecting and regulating our body’s temperature, and producing sensations of pain.
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, 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 could be used as a novel DMD therapy.
A study by Zamberletti et al., published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in July 2019, 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, found that CBDV could dramatically decrease the gastrointestinal inflammation that accompanies diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s, and irritable bowel syndrome.
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 which helps block 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 really set us back. Remember, CBDV was first discovered in 1969, but 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 begin focusing on developing high-CBDV strains in much the same way as they have with CBD. At present, not many strains contain a reasonable level of CBDV, expect that to change shortly.