By now there are few people who haven’t heard about the health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), although not many will be aware of a structurally similar compound called cannabidivarin (CBD). Like CBD, this non-psychoactive cannabinoid won’t get you high, but produces an array of anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. As interest in CBDV grows, research is beginning to suggest that the compound may have a role to play in the treatment of epilepsy, autism and a range of other conditions.
CBDV – What Is It Good For?
As with many other molecules found in cannabis, CBDV remains somewhat understudied, with no major clinical trials having been completed using the cannabinoid. Regardless, a growing body of preclinical evidence has caught the attention of some major players within the medical cannabis and pharmaceutical industries.
GW Pharmaceuticals – the company that marketed the first CBD-based medication for epilepsy – is now trying to turn CBDV into a treatment for seizures. Clinical trials still have a way to go, but the work conducted so far on rats suggests that CBDV modulates the excitability of neurons in the hippocampus. According to a GW-funded study that came out in 2014, the cannabinoid prevents neuronal hyperexcitability by binding to the capsaicin receptor, indicating that it may help to prevent seizures[i].
Separate research has indicated that CBDV may also have a role to play in the treatment of autism syndrome disorder (ASD). In one study, researchers gave the compound to a group of 17 men with ASD, and a further 17 men without autism. This caused a shift in glutamate activity in a brain region called the basal ganglia, which has been implicated in autism[ii].
Another study on mice with an animal model of autism found that CBDV treatment led to improvements in “social impairments, social novelty preference, short-term memory deficits, repetitive behaviors and hyperlocomotion.”[iii]
The cannabinoid may also be effective at treating a debilitating condition called Rett syndrome, which is caused by a single mutation on the X chromosome and therefore predominantly affects girls. Symptoms include stunted growth as well social and cognitive impairment, although preclinical research on mice with the same genetic mutation indicates that CBDV improves motor coordination, sociability and general health[iv].
One study even found that CBDV increases levels of growth factors in the brain and regulates the concentration of cannabinoid receptors, both of which are thought to be altered in Rett syndrome[v].
Finally, the cannabinoid is currently being investigated as a potential treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which is caused by a deficit of dystrophin, the protein that connects muscle fibres to the surrounding extracellular matrix. Those with DMD therefore tend to experience muscle degeneration and chronic inflammation, although animal research has shown that CBDV prevents both of these, thereby attenuating the loss of locomotor activity[vi].
Where To Find CBDV
There is evidence to suggest that CBDV generally occurs in higher concentrations in indica varieties, with certain landraces of African or Asian origin thought to be the best source of this cannabinoid. That said, breeders are now beginning to market new cultivars that express high levels of CBDV, some of which you’ll find in the Seedsman library.
[i] Iannotti FA, Hill CL, Leo A, Alhusaini A, Soubrane C, Mazzarella E, Russo E, Whalley BJ, Di Marzo V, Stephens GJ. Nonpsychotropic plant cannabinoids, cannabidivarin (CBDV) and cannabidiol (CBD), activate and desensitize transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channels in vitro: potential for the treatment of neuronal hyperexcitability. ACS chemical neuroscience. 2014 Nov 19;5(11):1131-41. – https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/cn5000524
[ii] Pretzsch CM, Voinescu B, Lythgoe D, Horder J, Mendez MA, Wichers R, Ajram L, Ivin G, Heasman M, Edden RA, Williams S. Effects of cannabidivarin (CBDV) on brain excitation and inhibition systems in adults with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): a single dose trial during magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Translational psychiatry. 2019 Nov 20;9(1):1-0. – https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-019-0654-8
[iii] Zamberletti E, Gabaglio M, Woolley-Roberts M, Bingham S, Rubino T, Parolaro D. Cannabidivarin treatment ameliorates autism-like behaviors and restores hippocampal endocannabinoid system and glia alterations induced by prenatal valproic acid exposure in rats. Frontiers in cellular neuroscience. 2019 Aug 9;13:367. – https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2019.00367/full
[iv] Vigli D, Cosentino L, Raggi C, Laviola G, Woolley-Roberts M, De Filippis B. Chronic treatment with the phytocannabinoid Cannabidivarin (CBDV) rescues behavioural alterations and brain atrophy in a mouse model of Rett syndrome. Neuropharmacology. 2018 Sep 15;140:121-9. – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0028390818304131
[v] Zamberletti E, Gabaglio M, Piscitelli F, Brodie JS, Woolley-Roberts M, Barbiero I, Tramarin M, Binelli G, Landsberger N, Kilstrup-Nielsen C, Rubino T. Cannabidivarin completely rescues cognitive deficits and delays neurological and motor defects in male Mecp2 mutant mice. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2019 Jul;33(7):894-907. – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31084246/
[vi] Iannotti FA, Pagano E, Moriello AS, Alvino FG, Sorrentino NC, D’Orsi L, Gazzerro E, Capasso R, De Leonibus E, De Petrocellis L, Di Marzo V. Effects of non‐euphoric plant cannabinoids on muscle quality and performance of dystrophic mdx mice. British journal of pharmacology. 2019 May;176(10):1568-84. – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30074247/