The cannabis plant is home to several hundred different compounds with their own unique functions and purposes, with tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) being one of the most unsung heroes.
What’s unique about cannabis is that some of its phytocannabinoids like THC need to be exposed to heat or decarboxylated in order to function as desired. This factor is the main reason why eating raw cannabis usually never produces psychoactive effects.
But what about if you didn’t decarboxylate the cannabis before consuming it? Are the cannabinoids present in the plant of any use? Do they have any effects on us?
If you’re already familiar with CBD, you know that it doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects like THC. However, it still supplies therapeutic elements that can tame inflammation, ease pain, and help with focus.
That said, researchers are taking a more in-depth look into the inactivated form of THC, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA for short.
THCA is the main compound present in cannabis before decarboxylation or exposure to heat. It shows promise for its potential to treat neurodegenerative disease and inflammation and could lead to other medical utility in the future.
To find out more about this dark horse and whether or not you can benefit from implementing it into your regime, keep on reading.
What is THCA & How is it Made?
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, also known as THCA is a minor cannabinoid mostly found in living cannabis plants.
Unlike THC, THCA is non-psychoactive but still acts upon our endocannabinoid system. Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is commonly referred to as the inactive form of THC in more popular contexts, being able to convert to the latter through exposure to a controlled heat source, also known as decarboxylation.
Implying from its name, THCA and THC share a molecular structure that is very similar to one another. The only difference lies in the additional Carbon Monoxide molecule found in THCA’s molecular chain.
However, unlike THC, when THCA is consumed, it is non-psychoactive, meaning it does not produce any mind-altering effects.
In terms of its production, THCA naturally develops as the cannabis plant grows into maturity. By the time the cannabis plant is ready to be harvested and cured, the plant itself will be loaded with tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. That said, for raw cannabis plants that have not yet been decarboxylated, THCA rather than THC is a more accurate metric to measure the actual potency of a cannabis strain.
It’s also worth noting that in harvested or dry cannabis, THCA converts to THC over time through exposure to oxygen, heat, and light. If cannabis is stored at room temperature for long enough, eventually, about 20% of the THCA content will convert to THC.
What’s more, the exposure to sunlight or other external heat sources may expedite the process and potentially convert even more THCA to THC.
Ultimately, this will reduce the bioavailability of THC in your weed, thereby reducing its potency.
What are the Benefits of THCA?
Currently, there is little known about THCA as the research backing the cannabinoid is still in its early stages. That said, there are bits and pieces of preliminary research and anecdotal evidence we can piece together in order to form some semblance of a conclusion.
Below are some of the most commonly posited benefits of THCA:
Of all the research currency being performed on THCA, one of the most promising traits the cannabinoid holds is its ability to fight against neurodegenerative disease.
One particular 2017 study shows that tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is a potent agonist to neuroprotective activity, helping to turn the tides in battles against neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Preliminary studies showcase THCA as a potentially effective remedy for the treatment of Arthritis and Lupus. Additionally, the cannabinoid has shown promise in treating inflammation more effectively than the two major cannabinoids, CBD and THC.
Potential Aid to Insomnia and Muscle Spasms
THCA may also help those who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. The cannabinoid is known to share some overlapping similarities to its close cousins, being able to relieve users of muscle spasms, as well as diminishing perceived pain.
Although evidence is limited, THCA may work as an anti-emetic agent, helping to stimulate appetite in those who have lost it and reducing the discomfort associated with nausea.
Last but certainly not least, THCA shows great promise in fighting cancer. Its anti-proliferative properties help it diminish and destroy cancer cells in both prostate and breast cancer, as demonstrated through preliminary trials.
How to Get THCA
Since tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is primarily present in raw cannabis, any strain that boasts a high THC content that has not yet experienced decarboxylation will guarantee a high THCA content.
That said, here are some of the most popular ways to get your hands on some THCA:
Home Grown Cannabis
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid accumulates in live cannabis plant matter. Cultivating your very own plants at home can be a sure-fire way to guarantee that you will know exactly what you’re getting.
Granted, it will take some patience and practice to grow your plant ideally.
Still, when done right, homegrown crops have the potential to yield an abundant source of raw cannabis. When trying to maximize THCA content, utilizing high THC strains will be your best course of action.
Purchasing Raw Cannabis
If growing your own plants at home proves to be too difficult or time-consuming, you can take the easier route and simply purchase some raw cannabis for yourself.
Whether purchasing standard grade or medical marijuana, keep your eyes peeled for strains that boast a high THC content, as they’ll have a lot of THCA.
Juicing Raw Cannabis
If you’re a fan of smoothies, many people have opted towards juicing their raw cannabis buds to get their daily dose of cannabinoids, making it one of the most straightforward methods of ingesting THCA.
Simply blend the nugs of raw cannabis with other ingredients to mask the flavour, and you’ll have a smoothie that is not only rich in nutrients such as fibre and protein but also THCA.
THCA Designated Products
Today, we have absolutely no shortage of options when it comes to the variety of different cannabis products available to us. Luckily, cannabinoid-specific products are widely available in a vast assortment of various forms. Look for tinctures, transdermal patches, creams, and balms.
We saved the best for last here.
THCA crystalline, also known as THCA crystals and THCA diamonds, is a highly refined cannabis extract that can contain upwards of 95% THCA. The highest quality variants can sometimes close the gap and reach up to 99% purity.
THCA crystals take the formation of tiny crystals that can be used as a versatile platform for consuming THCA.
Put them into capsules, add them to food or beverage, or eat them as is. THCA crystals are currently the most concentrated product available on the market when it comes to this specific cannabinoid.
THCA – The Unsung Hero of Cannabinoids
THCA shows vast potential in a variety of different medical applications. Whether it is the goal to fight cancer, reduce inflammation, or protect brain health against neurodegenerative conditions, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid shows great promise in providing people with an effective and natural remedy to these problems.
While research on THCA is still in its infancy, researchers are working hard to uncover the inner functions of this cannabinoid. Until then, you can rely on us to provide you with the latest information on upcoming cannabis news and research.
If you do decide that you would like to give THCA products a try and would rather skip the process of growing your own cannabis, be sure that you are purchasing products from a safe, reputable and licensed dispensary to ensure that it is safe for consumption.
Thanks for reading, happy medicating!