Two cannabinoids, THC and CBD, tend to get much more attention than the rest. However, there are hundreds of other wonderful cannabinoids in cannabis plants, all of which can offer their own unique benefits. And in this post, we wanted to shine a spotlight on one of our favorite lesser-known cannabinoids: THCA, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid that some have called a superfood. Wondering what this cannabinoid can do for you? Read on to learn everything you need to know about THCA and its many benefits.
What is THCA?
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA for short, is a cannabinoid that is abundant in live and raw marijuana plants. THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It is found in the stems, leaves, and flowers of marijuana plants. It’s thought to have a variety of health benefits.
Note that if you want to consume THCA, you’ll want to avoid heating your cannabis. The reason is that heat can cause THCA to change into an entirely different cannabinoid. Some examples of ways in which people consume their THCA raw include juicing raw cannabis, using raw cannabis tinctures, using THCA patches, or consuming raw THCA edibles, including THCA powders.
THCA vs. THC
As we mentioned above, heating THCA can turn it into a different cannabinoid. That different cannabinoid is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. The cannabinoid that is famously responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects.
THC is probably the most well-known cannabinoid. However, many people do not know that a live or raw marijuana plant doesn’t technically have THC in it. At least not in the form people think of. Instead, a live or raw marijuana plant will contain an abundance of THCA, which turns into THC when it undergoes decarboxylation due to heat exposure.
Decarboxylation is the scientific term for the process that happens when you heat cannabis and THCA converts into THC. Heat removes a carboxylic acid group from tetrahydrocannabinolic acid or THCA. Essentially making the “A” part of the cannabinoid drop off so that it becomes THC. Decarboxylation can happen when cannabis is exposed to many types of heat. Including the heat involved in smoking or vaping cannabis, or the heat cannabis gets exposed to when it’s left in sunlight for an extended period of time.
So, THCA is the precursor of THC, since it becomes THC when it’s exposed to heat. However, it’s very important to remember that THCA is its own unique cannabinoid that has its own unique properties. THCA has a different chemical composition from THC and these two cannabinoids affect the body very differently.
One of the most important differences between THC and THCA is that THC causes psychoactive effects, while THCA does not. The THCA molecule is too large to fit into CB1 receptors within the endocannabinoid system in the way THC can, which is how THC causes psychoactive effects.
Psychoactivity isn’t the only way in which THC and THCA differ. Since THCA interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system in its own unique way.
Cannabinoid research is still in its infancy, so it’s impossible to know the exact medical benefits of THCA– we just don’t have enough information yet. However, we can go over some of the early findings of the potential benefits of THCA, which are very promising.
Studies that have been done on THCA suggest that it may have:
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Studies have found that THCA appears to ease inflammation, which could potentially help those with chronic inflammation and various inflammatory conditions, such as lupus, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, and Crohn’s Disease.
- Antiemetic Properties: Research has shown that TCHA has antiemetic properties, meaning it can help reduce nausea and increase appetite. One 2012 animal study that compared the antiemetic properties of THCA to THC found that THCA actually had stronger antiemetic properties than THC. It makes it even more effective at reducing nausea and increasing appetite.
- Neuroprotective properties: There’s evidence that suggests THCA is an effective neuroprotectant, so it may help protect against the progression of neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Anti-Proliferative Properties: Research on prostate cancer has found that THCA inhibits the proliferation of cancerous cells. Which has sparked more research into THCA’s potential anti-proliferative properties.
The initial research on THCA has shown that it may have a variety of health benefits. A lot of people who have tried THCA would agree with it. Many cannabis patients have said that THCA has improved their health issues. For example chronic pain, muscle spasms, insomnia. While this anecdotal evidence and early research are certainly encouraging.
How Can I Try THCA?
There are many ways to try THCA, including several that involve consuming raw cannabis that has not undergone decarboxylation. If you want to go the fresh, raw cannabis route, be sure to look for raw high-THC strains. The reason is that these will have the most THCA. Then, once you have your raw cannabis, you can consume it in a variety of ways. For example by pressing it into juice, adding it into smoothies, or adding a bit to a salad.
If you’re not interested in consuming raw cannabis but still want to try THCA, there are a number of cannabis products you can try. Raw cannabis tinctures and raw cannabis drops can offer a convenient way to try THCA alone. Other convenient options include pre-made THCA edibles and transdermal THCA patches. Which works much as nicotine patches do.
Another type of THCA product is THCA crystalline. This is one of the popular options. THCA crystalline, also known as diamonds or THCA crystals. This is a type of cannabis concentrate made of isolated THCA content extracted from a cannabis plant. They can look like small, clear crystals or it may have a finer, more sugary consistency.
If you swallow THCA crystalline, you’re taking in THCA– and quite a bit of it, which could be wonderful if you want to consume high amounts of THCA. If you vaporize and inhale THCA crystalline through a dab rig, a vaporizer, or some other method, you are not taking in THCA at all, but are instead taking in a very concentrated amount of THC, since you have added heat to your concentrated THCA. Remember that if you want to try consuming THCA instead of THC, any consumption method that involves heat is not right for you, since that will create THC.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of THCA
If you have any questions about using THCA or if you’d like a personalized THCA-rich product recommendation, please don’t hesitate to reach out. One of our knowledgeable team members would be happy to answer all your THCA questions and recommend the right product for the needs and experience levels. You can get in touch with us by calling your closest Essence Dispensary location during our regular business hours or by sending us a message here through our site.