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You’ve heard of cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids, but how about cannabidivarin (CBDV)? Related to CBD, many of CBDV’s effects overlap with the more well-known cannabinoid. But not quite! Here, we’ll discuss what makes CBDV different and how it can support your brain and immune health.

What Is CBDV?

CBDV is a naturally occurring cannabinoid, but it’s only present in trace amounts in the vast majority of cannabis strains. It does not stimulate the “traditional” endocannabinoid receptors but mostly works on the TRPV receptors. These detect heat and help regulate pain and immune function. The ways that cannabinoids activate TRPV may partly explain their pain-relieving, inflammation-cooling properties. 

CBDV is produced down a similar pathway to CBD. Cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA) converts to CBDVA by CBDA synthase. Then, drying, heating, aging, or a combustion reaction turns CBDVA into CBDV, just like how the same processes turn CBDA into CBD.

How CBDV Can Benefit Human Health

CBDV has many protective, restorative properties on the brain and nervous system. It may also reduce inflammation through similar pathways to CBD.

Neuroregeneration 

Yep, you heard us. Until recently, it was believed that we could not grow new brain cells after birth. Now, it appears that we can grow new neurons, which may depend on our endocannabinoid system. All healthy adults have a pool of neural stem cells in the brain. The only problem is that they are mostly dormant.

A lab study from late 2023 found that CBDV could support the growth, survival, and differentiation of new cells in a region called the subventricular zone. It lies deep within the brain, running beneath all regions. CBDV works through a non-typical endocannabinoid receptor known as TRPV1, triggering partially differentiated stem cells to grow into mature brain cells. Better yet, CBDV increased the number of stem cell clusters so that they won’t be depleted. It appeared to cause an almost doubling of cell division.

In many cases, what’s better than growing new brain cells is preventing the death of the cells you already have—a process called Apoptosis. CBDV may deliver protective benefits even in serious situations such as epilepsy and Huntington’s disease. While the loss of brain cells is a feature of genetic Huntington’s disease and is a result of seizures in epilepsy, this study shows how CBDV could help turn around even “impossible” situations.  

Elizabeth Moriarty, founder of Luminary Medicine Co., says:

“When we review the research on CBDV, there are repeating patterns suggesting strong neuro-regulatory benefits with the use of this cannabinoid. That’s exciting in and of itself, but when we combine this feature with neuroinflammatory down-regulation and neurodegeneration, it’s riveting. Conditions of brain and nerve cell dysregulation and damage are among the most treatment-resistant, and many of these harms are the result of uncontrolled neurological inflammation. We’re talking about conditions that profoundly affect the quality of life for people and their families, causing substantive cognitive and physical suffering.”

Autism

Autism is an increasingly common learning disorder that affects verbal and social skills, alongside other functions such as sensory processing. It seems to feature both excesses and deficiencies of connectivity between different brain regions. What’s more, autism can be anything from an extremely mild condition with a few sensory issues and a low social battery to a devastating disability that locks adults into an infantile state. All of this makes it hard to treat and understand.

Fortunately, a trial on men with autism demonstrated that CBDV could regulate functional connectivity between regions of the brain. It reduced hyper-connectivity in areas linked to speech and language, bringing it down to the level seen in people without the disorder. Better yet, CBDV increased connectivity from an area known to support emotional regulation and emotional processing. This could mean that people with autism may be better able to handle stress with CBDV supplementation.

Rett Syndrome

A defective MECP2 gene causes the genetic disorder known as Rett Syndrome. It used to fall under the autism spectrum because of symptoms including social withdrawal and repetitive movements. Today, Rett Syndrome is seen as a separate rare disease. 

Early research shows us that CBDV could be a promising treatment. One paper on mice found that it improved brain weight, overall health, social skills, and motor function over time. CBDV does not seem to affect the mutated gene’s function but could instead improve the functions of cells that the gene impairs. The increase in brain weight surprised us the most, as brain cell regeneration is usually seen as very slow if recognized at all.

But what about humans? A small study on five girls with Rett Syndrome, where epilepsy is a typical symptom, found that CBDV could reduce seizure frequency. All five girls experienced some benefit, and three of them had at least a 75 percent drop in seizures. The average seizure frequency for all five girls dropped by 79 percent, or from 32 to 7.2 episodes per month.

Inflammation

CBDV’s effect on one of the TRP receptors, TRPA1, may allow it to reduce inflammation in conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. A lab study found that CBDV significantly reduced inflammation, gut wall permeability, and the number of immune cells in the digestive tract. It may also reverse some of the harmful changes to gut bacteria populations. These results were illustrated by animal models and tissue samples from kids with inflammatory bowel disease.

Another all-too-common condition CBDV may benefit is neuropathy. Neuropathy can be the result of diabetes, injury, pharmaceutical side effects, or inflammatory disorders, meaning it affects millions around the world. CBDV could reduce its severity by cooling inflammation in the nervous system. By turning down the activity of major inflammatory pathways, CBDV could prevent gradual tissue damage and calm down over-active nerve cells. You can use it alongside powerful painkillers such as morphine because they enhance each other’s beneficial effects, and CBDV does not affect breathing. Better yet, it allows for a reduction in your opiate dose, decreasing the chance of addiction or overdose. 

POTS

CBDV’s anti-inflammatory effects may calm the nervous system dysfunction seen in Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). Both viral infections and genetic connective tissue disorders can trigger POTS, most likely through inflaming nerve cells. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a set of conditions where POTS is a common set of symptoms, features inflammation as the excessively bendy, stretchy connective tissue is more likely to develop injuries. Something as simple as falling while walking upstairs can negatively impact those who suffer from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, so they need all the anti-inflammatory support they can get.   

Overall, CBDV is looking more and more promising as a treatment for chronic conditions that involve inflammation and a dysregulated nervous system. It doesn’t have any intoxicating effects, so it could even be safe for kids or people who cannot or do not want to get “high.” 

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