THCa - Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid Explained
Cannabis contains dozens of cannabinoids, which are the chemical compounds in the plant that affects our bodies in different ways. Some cannabinoids get us high, some have health benefits, and most are poorly understood compounds that need to be researched further.
In this series, we will take a look at a few of the most well-researched cannabinoids that are found in cannabis.
You might have heard of THC, one of the most well-known cannabinoids - but have you heard of THCA? THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a cannabinoid that may have a range of health benefits. While THCA hasn’t yet been studied extensively, many people believe it can treat a range of conditions.
THCA is abundant in fresh cannabis flowers, but not in the smoke that you inhale when lighting a joint. Cannabis goes through the process of decarboxylation when it is dried and heated. During this process, most of the THCA becomes THC. THCA itself doesn’t get you high - it has to convert to THC before it can do that.
What are the reported benefits of THCA?
While the study of THCA is in its infancy, there are some interesting studies that suggest it might have certain properties. For example:
- It might have anti-proliferative, in that it seems to reduce the growth of prostate cancer.
- It might reduce inflammation, and might be able to treat inflammatory bowel diseases.
- It seems to have neuroprotective properties, which means it might be able to prevent or treat neurodegenerative diseases like dementia, according to a 2012 study and a 2017 study.
- It seems to reduce nausea and vomiting in studies conducted on mice.
According to an article on Project CBD, scientists who have researched THCA have reported that other cannabinoids seem to treat seizures and pain more effectively when combined with THCA.
Unfortunately, a lot of the studies on THCA were conducted on tissue samples and animal subjects. We don’t know for sure if THCA has these benefits, as it should be studied on live human subjects before we can confirm these benefits. As this review of studies notes, the pharmacological potential of THCA has been mostly ignored, but the research on THCA is promising.
How to consume THCA
Any high-THC strain will contain THCA before its decarboxylated. In other words, THCA cannot be smoked or vaped because it will convert to THC when it is heated. For best results, get a fresh cannabis bud right off the plant, as drying it decarboxylates it, too.
So, how do you consume THCA? A trend that’s been around for a few years is raw cannabis juicing. Blend the bud itself and consume it.
You can blend the entire cannabis plant with some water to get a fiber-rich green juice. To improve the flavor, add apple juice, honey, and some other green leafy vegetables. Still not tasty? Blend it with berries and banana for a creamy, sweet smoothie.
As more research is conducted, we’ll understand THCA better - and perhaps we’ll be able to buy isolated THCA tinctures and pills, just like we buy isolated CBD tinctures and pills nowadays.
- Baker, P. B. et al. 1981. The tetrahydrocannabinol and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid content of cannabis products. DOI: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.1981.tb13806.x
- De Petrocellis, L. et al. 2013. Non-THC cannabinoids inhibit prostate carcinoma growth in vitro and in vivo: pro-apoptotic effects and underlying mechanisms. DOI: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.02027.x
- Devitt-Lee, A. 2017. Dosing THCA: Less is More. https://www.projectcbd.org/medicine/dosing-thca-less-more
- Moreno-Sanz, G. 2016. Can You Pass the Acid Test? Critical Review and Novel Therapeutic Perspectives of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid A. DOI: 10.1089/can.2016.0008
- Nadal, X. et al. 2017. Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is a potent PPARγ agonist with neuroprotective activity. DOI: 10.1111/bph.14019
- Nallathambi, R. et al. 2017. Anti-Inflammatory Activity in Colon Models Is Derived from Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid That Interacts with Additional Compounds in Cannabis Extracts. DOI: 10.1089/can.2017.0027
- Rhuhak, L.R. et al. 2011. Evaluation of the Cyclooxygenase Inhibiting Effects of Six Major Cannabinoids Isolated from Cannabis sativa. DOI: 10.1248/bpb.34.774
- Rock, E.M. et al. 2013. Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid reduces nausea-induced conditioned gaping in rats and vomiting in Suncus murinus. DOI: 10.1111/bph.12316
- Verhoeckx, K.C.M. et al. 2006. Unheated Cannabis sativa extracts and its major compound THC-acid have potential immuno-modulating properties not mediated by CB1 and CB2 receptor coupled pathways. DOI: 10.1016/j.intimp.2005.10.002