So, you’ve finally grown your first-ever marijuana plant at home: amazing! Now that it’s ready to harvest, you can now grab a handful to roll up a joint or make a fresh batch of edibles so you can be as high as a kite, right? Wrong! You should know that freshly picked weed, no matter how potent the strain is, will never get you high. This is because instead of having THC, fresh weed only contains tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). And unlike THC, THCA is an inactive compound found on the fresh marijuana trichomes.
THC and THCA are often mistaken for each other. While both of these are cannabinoids, you have to understand that these two are as different as chalk and cheese.
To help you avoid confusion, and to allow you to understand how you can bring out the psychoactive compounds in your marijuana, here’s what you need to know about THCA and THC.
What is THCA?
THCA is the precursor to THC. For so many years, it was thought of as the same as THC simply because it was found in abundance in the plant’s trichomes and because it is also a cannabinoid. However, studies have proven that THCA is an inactive compound. Meaning, it cannot make anyone high.
THCA is not just closely related to THC, as its precursor, it contains all of the potency of THC. However, because of its molecular structure, it cannot cause euphoria in people. We all have cb1 receptors found in many of our major organs and in the spinal cord. However, most of our cb1 receptors can be found in the brain. This receptor is what interacts with cannabinoids. And this is why upon the intake of THC, your brain begins to experience euphoria.
But because THCA has a very different structure, it cannot interact with the small cb1 receptors in our brains. This is why no matter how potent it is, it will never be able to cause any high.
What makes THCA Important?
If it can’t make you high, then why is THCA relevant to cannabis use? There is more to cannabis than being stoned. Who knew, right?
Aside from THC, cannabis contains a myriad number of cannabinoids that have been known to help promote health and wellness. CBD, for example is a cannabinoid compound that is known to help with mental problems, stress, and even with many major health problems.
This is also the reason why THCA is valued by many. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who value THCA more than THC. This is true for medical marijuana users who want to enjoy all of its healing properties more than the euphoria.
In fact, its inability to have any psychoactive effects is the main reason why it is considered by many health buffs today as a superfood. People are now willing to go through great lengths to acquire raw, unheated cannabis so that they can juice it, or add it into various preparations to help improve various medical conditions.
How Potent is THCA?
As the precursor to THC, knowing how potent the THCA content of a specific cannabis strain is very important. This is because the higher its THCA content, the more potential it has for developing THC once the raw cannabis has been properly dried or processed. Knowing the potency of THCA is very important simply because it can help you know its potential use for health, and it can also help you identify which cannabis products can help you get high and which ones won’t.
For example, a cannabis cookie with a whopping 23% THCA content might sound awesome to someone who doesn’t understand the difference between the two compounds. While it will surely be beneficial for medical marijuana users, that same cookie will surely disappoint someone who is looking to get high.
And while THCA content may help you estimate how much that specific strain or cannabis product will have in terms of THC content, a high THCA content will not automatically mean a high THC content as well. This is mainly because, in order to make THC, the plant’s current THCA will have to be activated by means of decarboxylation. In layman’s terms, fresh cannabis will have to be dried. Once dried, the THCA will begin to lose its atoms, making it lighter and turning it into THC.
The process of turning THCA into THC is also quite inefficient. This means not all THCA will turn into THC. Some of these compounds can turn into Cannabinol or CBN. On average, only 75% of THCA will turn into THC when it is activated. This will help you gauge cannabis strains and interpret product labels better, especially if you are looking it for recreation.
What are the Benefits of THCA?
Although it is non-intoxicating, and although it cannot give you any high, THCA is considered a very important cannabis compound. While most studies on the various cannabis compounds have been focused on the effects of THC and CBD, there is preliminary research that suggests that THCA may be able to provide an array of health benefits.
THCA has been known to help support nutrition as well as provide relief for many ailments. Some of the benefits of using THCA includes:
■THCA has anti-emetic properties
THCA has been proven in a scientific study conducted in Ontario, to help increase appetite and decrease nausea. This is especially true when paired with CBD. In fact, THCA and CBD are more effective together in comparison to THC and CBD.
■THCA may help protect your brain
Much like CBD, THCA may also have neuroprotective properties. Pre-clinical studies have found out that THCA can help you protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. It may also have benefits in helping people who are suffering from frequent epileptic seizures.
■THCA may help slow down the progression of cancer
Studies have also shown that THCA, when tested with cell cultures in animal models, had the capability of slowing down the progression of cancer cells, specifically prostate cancer.
■THCA may act as an anti-inflammatory agent
Cannabinoids, including THCA have been known to help reduce inflammation. Cannabinoids have been shown to have properties that mediate with our body’s natural inflammatory process, and by interfering with it, inflammation can be halted or reduced. Taking THCA may help people who are suffering from pain and from other medical conditions that are associated with inflammation.
■THCA may aid in weight loss
Studies have shown that THCA may help individuals who are obese by aiding them with weight loss. THCA has shown in the study to have the potential to reduce adiposity, and even help prevent metabolic disease that is associated with being overweight.
How do you Consume THCA?
Since THCA is decarboxylated with drying or with heat, it can be quite difficult to prepare it for easy consumption if you do not have access to the fresh leaves. Unlike THC or CBD oil and other cannabis derivatives, which are very versatile, THCA will no longer be present as soon as you try cooking or smoking raw marijuana.
The best way to consume THCA is by juicing. Raw cannabis juicing is a testament that THCA is geared towards those who are into fitness and nutrition as opposed to being a product for the recreational marijuana community. However, you can’t expect raw marijuana juice to be available in your health and wellness shops anytime soon. As of today, it is it can mostly be found only in cannabis shops and cafes. Raw cannabis juices are often bitter and full of chlorophyll.
How do you make raw cannabis juice? Simple, use a juicer to extract cannabis juice from fresh, raw leaves. Make sure that you do not allow the leaves to undergo drying and that you do not allow the leaves or the juice to go through any process that involves heat so that its THCA content will not turn into THC.
Another great way to consume THCA is by using raw cannabis tinctures and raw cannabis edibles. Although this is more complicated to make at home, these products may contain high amounts of THCA and very few amounts of THC. These THCA-rich products are made through cold extraction methods that prevent THCA from activating.
What is THC?
THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol, on the other hand, is the active cannabinoid compound that you get when marijuana is processed through drying or heating or when THCA is decarboxylated. It is basically the compound that gives marijuana users their high. Since THC is smaller than THCA, its atomic structure allows it to interact with our brain’s cb1 receptors, where it will take effect and cause our brains to experience euphoria.
But more than just for fun, THC is also the most abundant phytochemical found in cannabis. It was actually the study of THC and of how it interacts with our brains that allowed scientists to discover our body’s natural endocannabinoid system.
What are the Benefits of THC?
As a cannabinoid and as a phytochemical, THC also has its benefits. Using it will not just give you a good high; it may also help improve your health and mental wellness. Some of the benefits that THC may give you include the following:
■ THC may help provide pain relief
Used by many people who have undergone painful surgeries, THC has been known to provide relief, especially among those who are suffering from chronic pain. FDA approved trials have confirmed THC’s effectiveness when it comes to pain relief. THC does this by acting on the central nervous system and blocking pain signals that are going towards the brain.
■ THC helps protect brain cells and promote brain health
THC is considered by many studies as a neuroprotectant. This means that it may have the capability to protect the neurons in your brain from damage.
Studies found out that people were less likely to die from head trauma if they had THC in their system. How it interacts with our brains may also be the clue as to why THC is also beneficial for treating people who are suffering from PTSD, anxiety, and insomnia.
THC may even help stimulate brain growth. Studies have shown that THC stimulates the brain cells in our hippocampus to grow. This may also help improve your brain’s ability to learn. THC can also help preserve the areas of our brains that hold spatial memory and also help by protecting your brain from neurodegenerative diseases.
■ THC helps to reduce inflammation
As a cannabinoid, THC also has the capability to help reduce inflammation, just as THCA does. You have to understand that inflammation plays a role in many diseases, including depression, arthritis, pain, and even cardiovascular diseases. By helping you deal with inflammation, THC can also help you cope up with many of these health problems.
Conclusion: THCA Vs THC: Which one is more important?
While THCA and THC are both related to each other, both are very different when it comes to the effects that they can provide. THCA is the precursor or the inactive state of this cannabinoid compound. While it can provide you with health benefits, it won’t cause euphoria because it cannot interact with your body’s receptors.
THC, on the other hand, comes as a result of drying or processing fresh, raw marijuana. THC is what you get when you decarboxylate THCA. Although it can also provide you with many health benefits, it’s mainly used for the psychoactive effects that it provides.
Knowing which one is important all depends on which one you are most in need of. If you want to use cannabis mainly for health and wellness, and if you do not want to use cannabis for its psychoactive effects, then THCA is the ideal compound for you. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy all of what cannabis can give you, then THC may be your best bet.
To help you know more about Cannabis and Cannabis-derived products, you can learn from the rest of our articles here.