THC vs THCA - What Is the Difference? | cannabisMD

THC vs THCA – What Is the Difference?

The difference between THCA and THC

THCA stands for Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. Cannabis plants contain THCA when they are alive and the juices from live plants also contain THCA. As the plant dries or is heated, THCA slowly converts to THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid that is best known from the cannabis plant.

THCA is the non-psychoactive precursor to THC, which means that until the plant is decarboxylated (turned to THC), it will not give you the feeling of euphoria associated with the use of THC itself. The full psychoactive effects of THC are experienced only once THCA has been heated to a specific level.

What Is THCA Used For?

The raw cannabis plant can be juiced or turned into edibles to produce high amounts of THCA which is becoming known as a super-food. The THCA can be used in smoothies and other foods to balance out the endocannabinoid system without producing psychoactive effects. This may help improve a number of ailments and has been known to be beneficial for people who suffer from anxiety.

Live plants are not as easy to come by as the extracted cannabinoid treatments and unless you grow your own or are in touch with a cannabis grower, you may need to look at THCA crystalline as an alternate source of this nutritional supplement.

You may be able to find it in capsule form in dispensaries that stock cannabis treatments. THCA is a strong anti-inflammatory and may be able to relieve symptoms of epilepsy, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome as well as other inflammatory conditions. THCA may also be able to reduce nausea and vomiting naturally. Some positive results have been found but further research is needed.

Why Does THCA Not Produce the Same Effect as THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid THCA cannot successfully communicate wit the brain’s CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. This means it cannot interact with them and so cannot produce the psychoactive effects of the THC molecules. Most cannabinoids are in the same acidic forms in the raw plant and go through a decarboxylation process before they become the usable cannabinoids that we are more familiar with such as CBD and THC.

Decarboxylation also reduces the size of the molecule allowing it to affect the CB1 receptors. Once they are smaller, they can then have an effect on the CB1 receptors and cause the euphoric effect experienced by using THC based treatments. THCA in lab tested cannabis is heated to produce THC for use in medical marijuana treatments.

What Are Some of the Concerns of Using THCA?

THCA is thermally unstable and can be altered quite easily with the application of heat. Exposure to heat decarboxylates THCA, turning it into psychoactive THC. Something as simple as sunlight can convert THCA to THC. The raw plant, when exposed to sunlight and heat for a period of time will slowly convert the cannabinoid acid to its psychoactive form.

Cannabinoid acids can even convert to cannabinoids at room temperatures of 77 degrees and above. Depending on the makeup of the THCA extract, it can convert from 20% to 67% of its THCA to THC in just 10 days when stored at room temperature. When the dried cannabis plant is vaporized or smoked, the high heat instantly converts THCA to THC although not all the THCA will be decarboxylated.

What Are Some of the Benefits of Using Raw Cannabis in Your Diet?

Juicing or eating raw cannabis has a number of nutritional benefits as well as medicinal benefits without the intoxication experienced from some of the plant extracts once the plant is dried or heated. THCA may assist in preventing certain diseases such as Fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and glaucoma which may be caused by an endocannabinoid system deficiency.

THCA from raw cannabis is being used to prevent the onset of diabetes due to its regulation of blood sugars. THCA may also help with arthritis and lupus and other inflammation-based illnesses. THCA may also prove helpful in treating or preventing neurodegenerative diseases due to its neuroprotective properties. THCA may assist in reducing vomiting and nausea naturally, which may also help cancer patients.

THCA can also be used in topical creams for the treatment of rashes, bruising, sore muscles, acne, insect bites, minor abrasions and even eczema. THCA may also be useful for treating depression and anxiety as it is a more natural way of improving mood. There have also been reports of using THCA to improve insomnia and sleeplessness, reduce muscle spasms and relieve pain. A lot more research is needed to determine the full benefits of THCA.

THCA and THC can be used in conjunction to reduce the effects of the THC’s, so larger doses can be metabolized with less euphoric effect. THCA can also be used with CBD and CBN and other cannabinoids. Many people swear by the health benefits of using raw cannabis in their diets and while there is some research to show there are some possible nutritional and medical benefits of this cannabinoid acid, a lot more research still needs to be done

Currently, most of the research centres around the user of the decarboxylated forms of the cannabinoids, but as the studies and research improve, we may find bottles of THCA infused juices on the shelves soon.

Niamh Tumilty

Multimedia Content Editor at
Niamh Tumilty is a Multimedia writer from Ireland who is evaluating the continued growth of CBD and its presence in the news. As an experienced journalist, she wants to ensure the public has access to the latest information in this area.

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