THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a cannabis compound that is showing very promising therapeutic potential despite the fact that there has not been enough research being done as of yet.
What is THCA and how is it produced into THC
Most people assume that during the growth period the cannabis plant is actually producing THC. But in fact it’s THCA that is being produced which is the non-intoxicating substance, that becomes THC when exposed to heat over a prolonged period of time. The THCA that is found in the plant won’t make you high. That is why when you eat or drink raw cannabis you do not feel its intoxicating effects.
So why doesn’t THCA make you high?
Because the THCA molecules do not fit into your brains cannabinoid receptors. THCA molecules are larger than a THC molecule, in fact (CBDA, CBGA, THCVA) have an extra compound called carboxyl. They become cannabinoids CBD, CBG & THCV only after they are harvested.
How does the change from THCA to THC occur?
Heat removes the carboxylic acid from the THCA this heat conversion is called decarboxilation. When heated this allows the THCA molecules to become smaller cannabinoids, turning to THC and able to bind to receptors in your brain and throughout the body, which produce the intoxication effects.
The various ways THCA coverts to THC
Smoking: When a dried or cured bud is exposed to a high degree of heat during smoking, much of the existing THCA rapidly changes to THC. Still, not all THCA converts to THC this is why smoking isn’t the most efficient way of decarboxylation into THC.
Sunlight: THCA can convert to THC through exposure to light and heat. If a cannabis plant sits in the warm sun for an extended period of time, its THCA compounds will slowly convert to THC.
Room temperature: THCA also converts to THC when stored at room temperature for a long enough time. With time, cannabis stored at room temperature with very little light exposure will convert 20% of its THCA to THC.
The health benefits of THCA
There are many benefits to consuming raw uncured and unheated cannabis. Cannabis has a resin gland compound rich in THCA cannabinoid acids. The terminology “whole plant medicine” is used to describe the alternative of using THC and CBD only medicines. This term pertains to using the whole plant and utilizing all of its cannabinoids for a wide range of therapeutic benefits.
Although research intoTHCA’s effect and benefits is still in it’s early stages, and not enough full studies have been carried out as of yet. From existing research on THCA there are positive indications that it can be used medicinally for the following benefits.
Anti inflammatory properties to help with conditions like lupus and arthritis
Antiemetic properties can be used to treat nausea, vomiting and appetite loss
Neuroprotective can protect against neurogenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
Antioxidant can help to counteract harmful toxins within your body, THCA is a strong antioxidant
There are many benefits to THCA and whether you are smoking, juicing or preparing edibles. You can try to take advantage of ways that cannabinoids in their raw state can interact with your body. While still in it’s early research stage THCA suggests that it has some very potent raw therapeutic effects.