Just when you thought you were all caught up on the latest cannabinoid trends here comes another cannabinoid called THCA. What exactly is it and what sets it apart from all the other hemp-derived THC products?
THCA is not actually new and in fact, is a major component of cannabis. Let's take a deep dive into "What is THCA?"
THCA is a naturally occurring cannabinoid
THCA is non-psychoactive until heated at which point it converts to THC
THCA when derived from hemp is considered federally legal
THCA may offer a wide variety of medical and therapeutic benefits
What is THCA?
Cannabis plants create over 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids, each of these have their own unique effects and make you feel differently depending on if you smoke, vape, or eat them.
THCA, or Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid, is a cannabinoid found in trace amounts in raw cannabis plants. In its fresh, unprocessed state, the cannabis plant contains THCA, not THC, the main psychoactive compound you usually hear about.
So if taking THCA alone doesn't get you high, what's the point? Well without THCA, THC wouldn't exist. Consuming THCA wouldn't do much as far as psychoactive effects. THCA only becomes THC when exposed to heat, a process known as decarboxylation. Most cannabinoids start life as carboxylic acids and when decarbed are turned into their non-acidic form. THCA's psychoactive effects are not present until this decarbing process occurs.
Nonetheless, THCA isn't just a precursor to THC it is actually the acidic form of it. This non-psychoactive cannabinoid is believed to possess its own potential health benefits even though this molecule does not bind to major cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system.
In fact, current research suggests that THCA does not bind very effectively to either CB1 or CB2 receptors, the two major cannabinoid receptors found in our bodies. This doesn't mean that THCA doesn't produce different effects on your system, though.
THC vs THCA
Within the cannabis plant, THC and THCA share a unique relationship. With heat exposure, THCA undergoes a chemical reaction to convert THCA into THC, creating the intoxicating effects associated with cannabis. This is why THCA doesn’t produce intoxicating effects until exposed to heat.
When taking a closer look at the molecular structure of this acidic cannabinoid it can be characterized by its extra molecular carboxyl ring. This carboxylic acid group is what differentiates THCA from THC. As cannabis is heated, the extra carboxyl group is released from the THCA molecule through decarboxylation, forming the main psychoactive compound, THC.
Understanding the non-psychoactive nature of THCA is key to understanding THC vs THCA. Unlike THC, THCA doesn't readily bind to the two main cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Which is most likely why consuming THCA doesn't produce the intoxicating effects associated with THC.
Where does THCA Come From?
The first form of THCA was discovered in 1965 as a major component of hashish by Professor Friedhelm Korte at the University of Boon in Germany. Then in 1969, Raphael Mechoulam, known as the godfather of cannabis research, discovered the second form of THCA, naming it THCA-B.
To further understand THCA, we must start from the beginning. It starts with the biosynthesis process within the cannabis plant. Here, two chemical compounds – geranyl pyrophosphate and olivetolic acid – combine to create cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). Then, CBGA interacts with THCA synthase, an enzyme that triggers a reaction to convert CBGA into THCA.
THCA is present in the highest concentration in the raw form of cannabis. However, remember that eating raw cannabis won't lead to intoxication, as we now know that THCA works differently than many other forms of THC.
Potential Benefits of THCA
THCA benefits from hemp plants appears to be promising, particularly when used in conjunction with other cannabinoids and terpenes. Already, early research indicates that THCA acts as an effective antiemetic, offering relief for conditions varying from mild feelings of nausea or morning sickness to more severe conditions such as chemotherapy-induced nausea.
Scientific interest has also been piqued regarding THCA's potential benefit for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), possible antispasmodic properties in helping suppress muscle spasms, the potential at helping seizure disorders, and its ability to help alleviate symptoms and significantly lessen pain and cramping.
As you can see, there appear to be many potential benefits to THCA, let's take a look at some further.
Similar to THC and CBD, THCA exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, and may be especially helpful in combatting gut inflammation which can be a common symptom of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Surprisingly research suggests that THCA may be more effective than CBD for this purpose.
Anti Emetic (Nausea and Vomiting)
In 2013, a study evaluated the potential of THCA to counteract nausea and vomiting in shrews and rats. These test subjects were administered lithium chloride (LiCl) to induce nausea and vomiting. THCA effectively alleviated these symptoms in both groups. From this, researchers concluded that THCA shows a strong promise as an anti-nausea and anti-vomiting agent, advocating for long-term human studies to explore these effects further.
THCA has demonstrated the ability to impede the growth of specific cancer types, particularly prostate cancer. Please note, it's crucial to clarify that we're not suggesting THCA as a cancer cure, given the limited research currently available on this topic. As more comprehensive and randomized trials happen in the future, we can hope for more definitive conclusions about THCA's potential anti-cancer capabilities.
Up until now, THCA has been researched in conjunction with THC for its joint neuroprotective properties. In an experiment, rats were administered a neurotoxin known as 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+), notorious for inducing incurable Parkinson's disease. The authors of the study observed that THCA and THC effectively safeguarded neurons from cell death caused by MPP+.
The neuroprotective attributes of THCA might also prove beneficial for neuroinflammatory conditions and neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis, and Huntington's diseases.
Does THCA Get You High?
Yes, THCA will get you high although THCA in its natural state is considered a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. In order for THCA to get you high it must be exposed to heat first. No different than how you must first decarb raw cannabis before its psychoactive properties become present, the same is true for THCA's effects.
Countless cannabis enthusiasts and medical patients utilize THCA, which is converted into THC through various methods like smoking, dabbing, vaping, and even ingestion of certain forms of cannabis. THCA essentially serves as a gateway to harness the benefits and therapeutic effects of THC.
For those not looking to avoid getting high, another way to consume THCA is through juicing raw cannabis or by adding raw cannabis leaves into smoothies or salads. This can offer a good dose of this acidic cannabinoid and a higher concentration of THCA without the risk of intoxication.
How to Activate THCA
Activating THCA couldn't be more straightforward. Regular cannabis users, medical patients, and even infrequent consumers activate their THCA daily without even knowing it when they smoke a pre roll, utilize dabs, use a vape pen, or any other consumption method involving heat.
Cannabis can also be decarboxylated for use in edibles, tinctures, and topical products. There are a few methods to achieve this, but the core principle remains the same: subject cannabis flower to temperatures between 200-245ºF for about 30-40 minutes in a standard oven. Exceeding 300º or baking it for too long can result in a loss of valuable cannabinoid content.
What are THCA Diamonds?
Although relatively new, THCA diamonds are becoming increasingly popular. These THC diamonds are essentially ultra-concentrated forms of cannabis or hemp which rose in popularity from the Arizona medical marijuana market back in 2017.
Unlike other hemp concentrates like shatter, sauce, or wax, the THCA content of diamonds tips the charts at 99%, with the final 1% made up of terpenes and flavonoids. Regardless of their high strength, THCA diamonds won't get you high unless you smoke, dab, or vape them. When you do the effects kick in hard and fast.
It's always a good idea to start with small doses and gradually increase until you find a THCA dosage that provides your desired benefits without unwanted side effects. While some user reports claim THCA causes fatigue and sleepiness, others report feelings of anxiety when consumed in high amounts. Either way, it's a good idea to start off small.
It's also known that cannabinoids function differently in isolation compared to when they're combined. This is important to remember when trying individual cannabinoids to first get a sense of how they make you feel before adding others to the mix.
When integrated with a whole-plant extract, cannabinoids demonstrate enhanced effectiveness, a phenomenon referred to as the entourage effect.
Possible THCA Side Effects
When it comes to the safety and potential side effects of THCA, there is still much to learn. As with anything, different people can respond differently. Anecdotal evidence tells us that the most commonly reported side effects that users may experience are caused by taking too high of a dose. Some of these side effects include:
Anxiety (especially in high doses)
Is THCA Legal?
While THCA itself is not a controlled substance, the legal status of medical cannabis, including products with THCA, can be complex. Understandably this leaves many to question, "Is THCA legal?". State and federal laws vary and while some states allow the use of medical cannabis, others do not.
Luckily, the 2018 Farm Bill, formally known as The Agricultural Improvement Act, federally legalized hemp along with all its derivatives, provided they have a THC content of no more than 0.3% which opened up opportunities for law-abiding citizens to use many hemp-derived cannabinoids.
To put it simply, THCA, when extracted from hemp, is entirely lawful to manufacture, market, own, and use at a federal level. On the other hand, THCA derived from marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, even though some states have authorized the use of recreational and medicinal marijuana.
Will THCA Make You Fail a Drug Test?
Every type "How long does THCA stay in your system, into a Google search?
Despite what you may read online, there very much is a possibility that THCA could be detected on a drug test. Remember, THCA converts into THC, which is the compound that most standard drug tests are looking for.
Because of this, we suggest remaining cautious and avoiding using THCA and all other forms of THC, if you need to pass a drug test.
Where to Buy THCA Products Online
Many find that the best place to buy high-quality hemp-derived products, including THCA is online. You will almost always find a larger selection along with better pricing and the best part is that you can do your shopping from the comfort of your own home.
Reputable companies like Everyday Delta offer a variety of THCA vape and pre-roll products to choose from and every product is lab tested so you have peace of mind that the product you are buying is of the utmost quality, purity, and free of any harmful chemicals.
Is Hemp-Derived THCA Right for You?
While far more preliminary research and clinical trials are needed to fully understand THCA and its potency potential. It remains a fascinating compound that's sparking significant interest in the medical, health and wellness, and cannabis communities.
Will this cannabinoid's non-psychoactive nature, potential therapeutic benefits, and intricate relationship with THC help it to play a role in cannabis medicine? We think these aspects make this cannabinoid a worthy subject of further exploration.
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