Cannabinoid Spotlight: THCA


Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, abbreviated as THCA, is the non-psychoactive acid form of THC found in raw or living cannabis plant. THCA converts to THC when it is heated to a specific temperature. It is showing promise in treatments for digestive orders, epilepsy/seizures, nausea, inflammation, degenerative nerve disease, and cancer. Today we're going to explore its chemistry and applications.

Many of us are familiar with the cannabinoid THC and its psychoactive effects. Since cannabis does not actually produce THC while growing, the plant produces all cannabinoids in an acid form. The plant synthesizes THCA and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) from their cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) precursor. THCA is considered “thermally unstable,” meaning that it readily converts to THC when heated. This conversion of THCA to THC is called decarboxylation. The process happens when we dry, smoke, cook or vaporize cannabis with heat.

However, the human body cannot convert THCA to THC on it's own--so many cannabis product manufacturers have developed ways to extract and isolate THCA into powder form. This is then ingested orally in raw form or used for edibles for the highest dosage of THCA benefits. You can also smoke or vaporize the isolated and concentrated cannabinoid, however it will mostly decarboxylate to THC. It should be known that all THCA preparations contain at least some trace amount of THC, as well as other cannabinoids and terpenoids. Therefore it can be hard to measure what true benefits THCA provides.

Scientists report that THCA is not psychoactive because it does not cross the blood-brain barrier and cannot attach to cannabinoid receptors in the brain. However, THCA appears to stop seizures for some patients. Recently, Bonni Goldstein, M.D., a Los Angeles cannabis doctor, wrote about how she treated patients with THCA. This included a patient with Alzheimer’s disease who, on just THCA alone, showed remarkable improvement. Arthritis and other chronic pain patients have reported good results, often in combination with other cannabinoids such as CBD, THC, and CBDA. Read on about more clinical trials and the science surrounding THCA in this other article by Project CBD.

THCA can be so unstable during the extraction or edible manufacturing process, so we see a limited variety of THCA products available on the market. However, certain isolate concentrates, tinctures and edible forms can be found. Check out our concentrate menu for isolates, as well as these tinctures:

Treatwell - Wellness Tincture extracted from whole plant medicine with high levels of THCA and other neutral cannabinoids.

Alta CA - Internal Pain Relief Tincture which has an isolated high potency infusion of THCA.

Also, every high-THC strain that has not yet been dried or heated contains THCA, with higher levels in a live or freshly harvested plant. Many cannabis enthusiasts include the raw cannabis plant parts in their juice!

Try out our favorite HERB Cannabis Lemonade recipe when you make your next juice!

2 x Apples

1 x Cucumber

1 x Bunch of Kale

1 x Bunch of Spinach

1 x Lemon

1 x Small Bunch of Cannabis Leaves

*Add all raw ingredients into a juicer, extract juice and enjoy!

Enjoy the weekend, we'll be around in case you need any cannabis delivered!

(Information and images courtesy of Weed Maps, Leafly and Project CBD.)

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