Cannabinoid Science 101: What Is Cannabidivarin (CBDV)?

The chemical structure of cannabidivarin and a brain scan highlighted in blue

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”.

The chemical structure of CBDV

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.

A cannabis plant with mountains in the background

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.

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.

A man wearing medical gear holding up a petri dish with a cannabis leaf inside

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.

  • Disclaimer:
    This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your doctor or other licensed medical professional. Do not delay seeking medical advice or disregard medical advice due to something you have read on this website.


5 thoughts on “Cannabinoid Science 101: What Is Cannabidivarin (CBDV)?”

  1. Boris Banas

    There is a mistake:
    “they contain a propyl chain instead of a pentane ring within the molecule” should be replaced by:
    “they contain a propyl chain instead of a pentyl chain within the molecule.”
    Please correct this.

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi Boris,

      Thank you for pointing this out. I have passed your comment on to the author of this article. We hope you continue to enjoy the blog!

      With best wishes,


  2. Beth ulanowski

    I have progressing alzheimers I am 67 and was diagnosed 4 years ago. I am in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, any help with getting marijuana in either or both of these states

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Dear Beth,

      Thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately, as Sensi Seeds is not a medical practice, we are not able to provide any advice relating to medical situations other than to consult your doctor or other licensed medical professional. This article, written specifically for healthcare providers who may not be aware of the many properties of cannabis, may be useful to you in talking with your doctor. You could also try to contact local medicinal cannabis support groups, if you have not already done so. In the UK, there is the United Patients Alliance (you can find them on Facebook) and in the US and EU there are many branches of NORML (google NORML followed by your area name). We hope this is helpful.

      With best wishes,


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