Did you know that THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), not THC, is the most abundant cannabinoid found within cannabis plants?
What if we told you that uncured, yet-to-be-dried flower actually has no THC at all?
Surprised? It’s true.
Popular belief might have you believing that you can get high off of freshly harvested buds from weed plants, but that’s not correct.
Flower from the cannabis plant that hasn’t been cured or dried won’t have any of the psychoactive compounds we all know and love that are responsible for getting us high.
This fact is why you can’t just eat raw bud and expect to feel any psychoactive effects, and the reason for that lies in tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, otherwise known as THCA.
Curious why this is? Stay with us, and we’ll break down everything there is to know about this abundant yet elusive cannabinoid.
What is THCA?
THCA stands for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. It’s the acid form of tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. THCA and THC share many similarities, and that’s because they’re fundamentally the same thing.
Chemically, the only difference between the two is an extra carboxyl ring (COOH). While it might not sound like a lot, this extra molecule makes this cannabinoid entirely non-reactive.
Because of this, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) will not get you high.
That is, not until it’s converted to THC.
How is THCA Converted to THC?
Converting raw cannabis into THC-packed buds is something that tokers from all walks of life have done before.
The practice is so common and popular in fact that, chances are, you’ve converted THCA to THC a few times before, too.
To put it simply, THCA is basically the “precursor” to THC. Although it’s not psychoactive, there are only a few things you need to do before tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is converted into its potent, psychoactive counterpart.
Have you ever blazed a joint, smoked a pipe, or sparked a bong? If you have, you’ve successfully performed the process of decarboxylation.
Decarboxylation sounds like a scientific, big-brain word, but the truth is, it just means removing a carboxyl ring or group from a compound. This process “activates” cannabis and makes it psychoactive.
The most common and prevalent way to decarboxylate cannabis is to dry and cure it.
Not only does the curing process convert THCA, CBGA (CBG’s inactive acidic form), CBDA (the non-reactive cousin of CBD) and a host of other cannabinoids into their beneficial counterparts, it also breaks down chlorophyll and ensures that it’s mould free.
Isn’t it nifty?
Another way to decarboxylate cannabis, and one that we’re all familiar with, is simply smoking it.
When tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is exposed to heat, the carboxyl ring is removed, and the THCA is converted into THC.
While curing and drying cannabis help convert raw THCA into THC, it’s ultimately heat and time that’ll do most of the heavy lifting.
What are the Benefits of THCA?
Although THCA won’t get you high, research on tetrahydrocannabinolic acid and its effects have yielded several potential benefits.
As research shifts beyond the recreational high-inducing cannabinoid and cannabinoids of the plant, scientists are discovering more and more benefits and effects for these non-psychoactive compounds.
Protection Against Neurodegenerative Diseases
According to a 2017 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, THCA has been found to have neuroprotective effects.
THCA has the potential to protect against diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Prion disease.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid could also be used to treat the symptoms of epilepsy.
THCA for Cancer
Preliminary studies have highlighted the potential for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid to have anti-proliferative effects on cancer cell growth.
Another study has found that THCA proved to effectively inhibit breast cancer cell growth in vitro and lab tests.
On top of this, THCA has also been known to reduce nausea and vomiting, common side-effects associated with chemotherapy treatments.
THCA for Pain Relief and Inflammation
THCA has also been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects and effectively prevents inflammation and cartilage damage on knee joints.
These properties make it a promising potential treatment for chronic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
It’s also effective as an analgesic, meaning that it can be used to treat mild pain.
How do you Take THCA?
THCA is easy to get, but here are some of our favourites:
Purchase/Produce High-Quality Cannabis
High-quality cannabis has high THC amounts (when smoked or decarboxylated).
Uncured and raw cannabis will have significantly more THCA than cured and dried cannabis, so if you can find a dispensary that hasn’t cured their stock yet, you’ll be in luck.
Alternatively, you can also grow your own cannabis and leave it uncured.
Yes, you can purchase THCA Diamonds in their crystalline form.
Also known as THC Crystals, these crystalline cannabis concentrate products are 99 percent THCA, with the leftover 1 percent consisting of terpenes and other cannabinoids.
THCA diamonds are made similar to shatter, live resin, and other butane hash oil concentrates, except that some of the original solvent is left. This produces a supersaturated mix of THCA.
Over time, the solvent is slowly removed, which allows the THCA to collect and crystallize.
It’s a new kind of cannabis concentrate, but it’s already gaining ground as one of the most popular concentrate options available on the market.
Juicing Raw Cannabis
If you really want a THCA fix, you can take the stems, trim, or fan leaves of uncured weed and blend it all up to make a green smoothie.
Juiced, raw cannabis can act as a dietary supplement, and you’ll be enjoying all the benefits and therapeutic effects that tetrahydrocannabinolic acid can provide.
THCA – THC’s Soon to be Popular Cousin?
Sure, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid might not enjoy the limelight as often as THC does, but that doesn’t mean that this cannabinoid isn’t without its own benefits.
There are numerous benefits of consuming THCA, and this cannabinoid offers more than meets the eye.
Providing protection against neurodegenerative diseases, serving as an effective pain reliever, and potentially treating cancer, we’re just beginning to brush the surface of what THCA, and other yet-to-be-known cannabinoids, can offer.
If you ever see uncured cannabis available at your local online dispensary, don’t be scared to verify these claims for yourself!
We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.