What Is THCA And What Are Its Benefits?

THCA or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is the non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in raw and live cannabis. Consuming cannabis juice is the most common way to take advantage of THCA benefits. There are hundreds of cannabinoid acids present in the cannabis plant, which undergo decarboxylation to produce cannabinoids. CBD and THCA have come into the spotlight as a superfood due to their potential health benefits.

Cannabinoid acids do not produce intoxicating effects, but they do have insecticide and antimicrobial properties. Raw cannabis is rich in THCA and CBDA that gets converted to THC and CBD, respectively. Like other cannabinoids, THCA works with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) to regulate various bodily functions, including homeostasis.

0The cannabidiols produced by the ECS system in our body help fight inflammation and pain, which is how the body repairs itself. Often there is a shortage of these endocannabinoids, which in turn affects the bodily functions it regulates. This is where phytocannabinoids- cannabinoids found in plants become beneficial.

What Is The Difference Between THC And THCA?

THCA slowly converts to THC in the presence of heat and light, a process known as decarboxylation. However, at the time of harvest, only a part of the THCA gets converted to THC. When you smoke or vaporize the flower, THC is produced that contributes to the euphoric high unique to the cannabis plant.

So, while THCA is the precursor of THC, why does THC give us a high while THCA doesn’t? The chemical composition of THCA is different from THC in that it lacks a carboxyl group, which is lost due to heat and light. 

A cannabinoid should fit into the body’s CB1 receptors located in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in order to have a psychoactive effect. THCA molecule has a three-dimensional shape which makes it a large molecule that is unable to fit into the endocannabinoid receptors. THC, on the other hand, triggers the CB1 receptors in the brain to produce psychoactive effects.

Let us take a look at THCA benefits as also THCA side effects:

Extensive research and studies into THCA benefits as a nutritional supplement and dietary enhancement are believed to be due to its:

  • Anti-inflammatory effects: THCA alleviates inflammation by inhibiting enzymes that produce prostaglandins that cause pain and inflammation. This includes pain caused by chronic conditions such as RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) and decreases inflammation in people with irritable bowel disease.
  • Provides effective neuroprotection: A 2017 study found that THCA exhibits neuroprotective properties that can help treat Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Multiple sclerosis. According to a report published, THCA seemed to inhibit nerve cell degeneration.
  • Anti-Emetic effect: Studies indicate that THCA is an effective solution to reduce nausea and vomiting. This property can be used during chemotherapy that induces heavy nausea that might end up in vomiting. Studies also indicate that it might be even more effective than THC.
  • Anti-proliferative properties are used in the treatment of cancers, especially prostate cancer. THCA can inhibit cancerous cells’ growth, while research is still in the early stages, it looks promising.

Studies also indicate that THCA benefits in the stimulation of appetite in patients suffering from anorexia nervosa and cachexia. A recent study found that THCA reduces adiposity and prevents metabolic disease caused by diet-induced obesity. Other potential benefits may also include treating insomnia, muscle spasms, and seizures when THCA is used in combination with CBD.

THCA Side Effects

The side effects associated with the intake of THCA are negligible . Although part of THCA may get converted into THC in the digestive tract, the amount produced may be too small to cause a psychotropic effect.

However, whatever form THCA is taken in, it is essential to consult a doctor and fully understand the properties and how it will interact with our body, other medications, and preexisting conditions to produce a desired or adverse effect. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and very young children should avoid taking THCA, as clinical trials and efficacy in this age group are still in its infant stages.

THCA has the potential to turn a drug test positive. Hence if you happen to be driving, be a sports person, and plan on getting tested, avoid consuming products containing THCA, as it stands in a gray area concerning legality.

Ways To Take THCA

THCA is predominantly present in raw cannabis, and its availability will depend on the state you live in, the laws that govern the growth and purchase of cannabis there. Hence, it is advisable to check with the laws of the state to ensure its legality.

THCA is available in the form of tinctures, oils, THCA edibles, THCA powders, and transdermal patches. THCA as a tincture is one of the safest ways to use it, a combination of THCA extract with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.

It is also available as 99% pure THCA extract known as THCA crystalline, THCA crystals, or diamonds. Visually this form of concentrate usually looks like small clear crystals or a finer sugary consistency.

As we already know that the safest way to consume THCA is from freshly harvested cannabis. However, it has a distinctively earthy taste, so if you don’t mind that, you can make smoothies and juices using raw cannabis leaves or even toss them into salads.

However, if you intend to smoke or vape cannabis, remember, THCA will degrade upon heating. High temperatures can trigger the decarboxylation process, and depending on how long the exposure, there are different temperatures at which this process occurs. At 212F, THCA will decarboxylate in 3 hours; at 320F, it will take 10 minutes, and a few seconds at 392 F, it will turn into THC, its psychoactive form.  

THCA benefits and THCA side effects are still being researched, but preliminary studies on the impact of THCA indicate promising results. The legality around cannabis has created roadblocks for decades around researching its efficacy, dosage, and safety for use. Moreover, before buying any of the THCA products, do an extensive research to find a high-quality manufacturer and consult your doctor before use.

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