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What is Cannabivarin  (CBV)?

Cannabivarin (CBV), also known as cannabivarol, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and does not produce the psychophysiological effects elicited by its more well-known relative, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)1, the primary psychoactive cannabinoid extracted from the cannabis plant (i.e., marijuana plant) responsible for euphoric side effects. A lesser-known cannabinoid, CBV is an analog of cannabinol and an oxidation product of tetrahydrocannabivarin2. It has a low binding affinity to cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. CBV is a natural product detected in minor amounts in the hemp plant Cannabis sativa.

Research has shown that another non-psychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), has several potential therapeutic benefits for a range of diseases, including multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, and mood disorders. However, there is limited research on the mechanisms and kinetics involved with CBV metabolism and its impact on the endocannabinoid system. Therefore, this compound’s physiological and neurological effects on the human body — and, therefore, its pharmacological potential — are relatively unknown.

Cannabivarin Figure

(Figure from Sampson 2021)

Cannabivarin and Drug Development

While the potential benefits of CBV are still under investigation, preliminary research has demonstrated promise for CBV as a component in drug development for treating bladder cancer and SARs-CoV-2.

SARs-CoV-2, characterized as a severe acute respiratory syndrome, is partly mediated by the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, an essential component of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. One report examined the active components of Cannabis sativa and their interaction with ACE2 receptors. Their results demonstrated that several cannabinoids bind to ACE2, including CBV3.

Cannflavin A is another compound found in Cannabis sativa, and research has begun to demonstrate its potential in inducing cytotoxicity to human bladder carcinoma cells. Interestingly, one study showed that Cannflavin A has synergistic properties with other chemotherapeutic agents and a number of other cannabinoids, including CBV4.

As researchers continue to unravel the pharmacological and physiological mechanisms of CBV, more research, both in vitro and in vivo, is required to assess its potential use — as well as that of many other cannabinoids — in drug development.

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  1. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Summary, Cannabivarin (CID 622545).
  2. Bailey K and Gagne D. Distinction of synthetic cannabidiol, cannabichromene, and cannabivarin by GLC using on-column methylation. J Pharm Sci 1975;64(10):1719–1720.
  3. El Ouafi Z, Rhalem W, Habib N et al. Molecular Modeling Targeting the ACE2 Receptor with Cannabis sativa’s Active Ingredients for Antiviral Drug Discovery against SARS-CoV-2 Infections. Bioinform Biol Insights 2022;16:11779322221145380.
  4. Tomko AM, Whynot EG, and Dupre, DJ. Anti-cancer properties of cannflavin A and potential synergistic effects with gemcitabine, cisplatin, and cannabinoids in bladder cancer. J Cannabis Res 2022;4(1):41.