What is THCA? And how is it different from THC?
Cannabis in its basic form does not have the infamous intoxicating compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) like delta-9. Instead, in its fresh and raw form, this plant contains a rich inactive compound known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).
There is much exciting information about THCA and THC. Many people want to know why they get high on THC, not THCA. Attempts at understanding THCA as the precursor to THC allow us to understand how cannabinoid acids convert into cannabinoids. In totality, this article will help you unravel the truth about THCA and THC from cannabis, a superfood for some.
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What Is THCA?
The story begins with a process. You grow the cannabis, and as time goes on, the plant matures and begins to produce the mother cannabinoid that eventually will break down into primary cannabinoids like THCA and CBDA. Cannabinoids are famous for their psychoactive properties.
There are studies supporting the fact that THC would not exist without its progenitor, THCA. THCA is the precursor of THC, and cannabinoids usually begin in acid form, and THCA is an acidic version of THC.
Without THCA, there will be no THC. THCA will transform into cannabinoid THC once heated or exposed to heat like smoking, vaping, dabbing, and cooking, a process called decarboxylation, activation by heat.
Is THCA A Narcotic?
You’ve learned from the previous section that once THCA does not undergo decarboxylation, it does not have psychoactive properties, affecting mood and behavior. THCA’s molecular properties remain preserved once not heated. Nonetheless, decarboxylating THCA will transform it into an intoxicating form of THC.
THCA, compared to THC, has larger molecules that will not fit into cannabinoid receptors like CB1 receptors in the brain, central nervous system, lungs, liver, and kidneys. THCA has an additional molecular carboxyl ring, which prevents it from binding to receptors in the brain responsible for feeling high.
In other words, THCA does not produce intoxicating effects as THC does. For cannabinoids to have an intoxicating effect, their molecules must fit into cannabinoid receptors, and this is why THC gets a person high and not THCA.
Is THCA Illegal?
Possessing THCA is not illegal because it does not classify as a controlled substance at the federal level. But because THCA is a precursor to THC, the moment you activate it by heat, it will produce a psychoactive compound (THC) that is illegal at the federal level.
On the other hand, under the Federal Analogue Act, possession of THCA may be regarded by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as equivalent to possessing THC.
Remember that laws vary across the United States. In Colorado and Oregon, possessing recreational marijuana is legal. This act in these states will allow you to keep THCA in raw form and THC in decarboxylated form. Always make sure not to cross states with the cannabis plant.
What Kind Of High Do You Get From THCA?
You do not get high with THCA. As mentioned in the previous section, THCA is a compound that can hardly bind itself to brain receptors responsible for getting a person high.
The story, however, changes when you undergo THCA under the chemical heating process. This activity will chemically change THCA to THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis that will get you high.
If a person wants to get high with THCA, decarboxylating is the most established process of extracting the psychoactive compound from it. However, this is not the main point why cannabis or THCA in its raw form has legal permission in some states.
Benefits And Uses Of THCA
There are many scientific inquiries regarding the potential health benefits and medical uses of THCA. This compound is mainly providing more health benefits when chemically changed to THC. Below are some cases gathered based on research studies and scientific journal publications.
THCA, when transformed into THC, can be an appetite stimulant. A study reveals THC can modulate feeding behavior (1), which implies therapeutic function, especially in cases associated with promoting or gaining weight, especially among cancer and HIV patients. However, other diverging studies reveal that THC can help alleviate obesity (2) and other related diseases.
Insomnia And Sleep Disorders
Medical cannabis has been associated with the treatment of insomnia and sleep disorders. A similar study in Canada (3) reveals the potential benefit of cannabis in sleep disorders, improving patients’ reported sleep scores. In this study, THC and THC derivatives showed an excellent effect on improving self-reported sleep scores.
THCA was found to have great potential as an anti-inflammatory agent. This was evident in a study associated with inflammatory bowel diseases (4) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In addition, another study reveals how THCA relieves collagen-induced arthritis (5). A recent study shows that THCA alleviates liver fibrosis and inflammation in mice (6).
In a recent study, THCA inhibited tumor (7) growth by 1.6-2 times in the human pancreas. The THCA derivatives like ALAM027 and ALAM108 were employed for the scientific investigation. The study implies the potential of THCA as an anti-cancer therapeutic agent, and the findings reveal several potential mechanisms (8) of cannabinoids’ actions on cancer cells.
Spasms of involuntary muscles are a common health phenomenon experienced by more than 2.5 million people worldwide. Findings and anecdotal evidence pointed to the antispasmodic effect of cannabis and its cannabinoids. However, more studies are necessary to make them conclusive and scientifically reliable (9).
THCA vs. THC
There are several points to consider when discussing the difference between THCA and THC. THCA and THC can treat nausea, but the former is more potent in addressing inflammation. THCA is less effective for sleep than THC. However, it is recommended for seizure disorders rather than THC.
A high THCA concentration means producing the intended high after decarboxylation. On the other hand, citing the difference between THCA and THC can be possible by looking into their intoxicating effect potential. THC is simply a natural psychoactive cannabinoid, while THCA is not.
It is necessary to burn THCA to destroy its carboxyl ring and convert this compound into THC. This decarboxylation process may be in the form of conversion, such as sunlight, room temperature, smoking, vaporizing, using vape pens, dabbing, and baking. The heating process converts the THCA compound to a more intoxicating form, THC.
How To Use THCA
Try using cannabis to benefit from raw THCA, which will not be possible once you decarboxylate it.There are many ways to use THCA. The following are also important points to consider.
Try ingesting cannabis to get all the fresh and raw forms of THCA. Others also prepared freshly made extracts that are common in the market and advertised as high in THCA concentrate. However, the extracts will also convert into THC over time, depending on the amount of light or room temperature heat linked to storage. It is advisable to store your THCA at room temperature, preventing it from speeding up the conversion to THC over time.
The best way to eat cannabis is to prepare a fresh ground bud, finely prepared to be edible without getting it activated by heat.
Should You Try THCA?
Theoretically, THCA possesses promising health benefits and medicinal use, making this compound worthwhile. On the other hand, one should maintain solid precautionary measures before using it. Despite the optimistic health benefits and medicinal potential of THCA, all evidence is based on ongoing research inquiries before a definitive list of approved therapeutic claims.
Because THCA is more effective when converted to THC, you should consult medical experts and practitioners before deciding on its actual usage. THC has a psychoactive effect, unlike THCA. Furthermore, health experts can provide you with further expert ideas and opinions to get the most out of the promising health benefits of THCA.
On top of the medical consideration associated with the use of THCA, you should also consider the legal aspect before using this compound.
Experience THCA Now
One cannot immediately conclude evil from a particular case because there might also be an array of good lurking behind it. Cannabis showcases promising health benefits and medicinal properties. However, the adage applies when using it.
A drug is reasonable if not misused. In the same way, the use of cannabis that is loaded with THCA and THC is good if not misused. For medical reasons, THCA is essential to improving medicine and humanity’s health and way of life. It’s best to experience the benefits of THCA legally with a complete package of medical guidance.
- Williams, C. M., Whalley, B. J., & McCabe, C. (2015, February 6). Cannabinoids and appetite (dys)regulation. Cannabinoids in Neurologic and Mental Disease. Retrieved November 6, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780124170414000138?via%3Dihub
- Fearby N, Penman S, Thanos P. Effects of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) on Obesity at Different Stages of Life: A Literature Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(6):3174. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063174
- Vaillancourt R, Gallagher S, Cameron JD, Dhalla R. Cannabis use in patients with insomnia and sleep disorders: Retrospective chart review. Can Pharm J (Ott). 2022 Apr 15;155(3):175-180. doi: 10.1177/17151635221089617. PMID: 35519083; PMCID: PMC9067069.
- Anti-inflammatory activity in colon models is derived from Δ9 ... (n.d.). Retrieved November 6, 2022, from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/can.2017.0027
- María Gómez-Cañas, Carmen Rodríguez-Cueto, Valentina Satta, Inés Hernández-Fisac, Elisa Navarro, Javier Fernández-Ruiz, Endocannabinoid-Binding Receptors as Drug Targets, Endocannabinoid Signaling, 10.1007/978-1-0716-2728-0_6, (67-94).
- Carmona-Hidalgo, B., González-Mariscal, I., García-Martín, A., Prados, M. E., Ruiz-Pino, F., Appendino, G., Tena-Sempere, M., & Muñoz, E. (2020, November 30). Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid markedly alleviates liver fibrosis and inflammation in mice. Phytomedicine. Retrieved November 6, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711320302579?via%3Dihub
- Aizikovich A. Anticancer Effect of New Cannabinoids Derived from Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid on PANC-1 and AsPC-1 Human Pancreas Tumor Cells. J Pancreat Cancer. 2020 Jun 9;6(1):40-44. doi: 10.1089/pancan.2020.0003. PMID: 32642629; PMCID: PMC7337241.
- Kovalchuk O, Kovalchuk I. Cannabinoids as anticancer therapeutic agents. Cell Cycle. 2020 May;19(9):961-989. doi: 10.1080/15384101.2020.1742952. Epub 2020 Apr 5. PMID: 32249682; PMCID: PMC7217364.
- Mack A, Joy J. Marijuana as Medicine? The Science Beyond the Controversy. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2000. 7, MARIJUANA AND MUSCLE SPASTICITY. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK224382/