THCA: What Is It and The Benefits Of This Cannabinoid

Have you ever bought cannabis that has been tested in a laboratory? If you have, then you might have found that the concentrations of cannabinoids that were present were either THC or THCA. Most lab-tested cannabis products contain around 10 – 20% of either of these popular cannabinoids. THCA is unique because it only exists when a flower hasn’t been exposed to heat, but what is it?

What is THCA?

THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is one of the many cannabinoids that can be found in raw cannabis. It is a rather unique compound and a fair amount of research has been carried out into the effects that it has on our receptors. Even though the studies are still young, the immense therapeutic benefits of THCA have already been displayed.

If you are already familiar with cannabinoids, then you have probably heard of THC. THC and THCA are not the same things, but they start off life as the same thing. One of the main differences between THC and THCA is that THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. When the cannabis plant is heated up, THCA converts to THC.

This process is known as decarboxylation. We understand that cannabinoids are difficult to understand, which is why they deserve their own section.

Understanding Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are what we call the active compounds that are found in raw cannabis. They make up some of the different characteristics of the cannabis plant, in the same way that the flowers, aroma, and colors of the plant are determined by chemical compounds.

Cannabinoids are more important than chemical compounds. They give the cannabis plant the recreational properties that some people enjoy and the medicinal properties that are currently being thoroughly studied. It is worth noting that different cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, interact with different receptors in the body. This promotes a wide range of effects.


So, what is the difference between THCA and THC? Well, it is worth noting that the average cannabis plant could contain as many as 113 different cannabinoids before we begin. THC, CBD, and THCA are the most understood, but they still require a lot of research.

A lot of marijuana growers are currently cultivating cannabis plants in a way that results in higher levels of THC. THC has a lot of psychoactive properties and gives people the high feeling that most people associate with cannabis use. THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning that it doesn’t make people feel the same way.

Having said that, a lot of people still purchase THCA to get high. They can do this because THC starts off life as THCA. As soon as THCA is heated up, the decarboxylation process begins, converting the THCA to THC. This turns a non-psychoactive compound into a psychoactive one.

THCA Benefits for Health

When we take a look at the world of raw cannabis use, we can immediately see that more research needs to be done. A lot of the benefits that come with THCA are either hypothetical or based on studies that involve very small groups of people. We would love to see further research on different cannabinoids and the effects that they have within the human body.

We can currently see that the number of studies into the medicinal effects of cannabis is rising along with the use of medical marijuana and the effects that it can have on long-term care. When we look solely at THCA, we can see some anecdotal evidence in a range of different areas, including:

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

THCA has been found to have certain anti-inflammatory properties. A study that was originally published in J-Stage proposed that this could play an important role in the development of care for colon cancer. It could also potentially help with areas like lupus and arthritis, although it does need to be studied further.

Could Help Manage Diabetes

One of the potential medicinal benefits of THCA is that it could be used to help people to manage pre-existing diabetes. Studies into other cannabinoids have shown promise in this area. If more research was carried out into THCA and diabetes, then it could prove to be quite lucrative.

Contains Neuroprotective Properties

Neurodegenerative diseases are among the worst things that people can suffer from. They can cause everything from memory loss to muscle spasms. Medical cannabis could be used to help people with neurodegenerative diseases in the future, as neuroprotective properties have already been found in THCA.

In 2012, a study was published that cited that mitochondrial impairment and consecutive oxidative stress are major molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration. The same study found that both THCA and THC protect dopaminergic neurons against MPP(+) induced cell death. This is something that we believe should be researched thoroughly.

Can Boost Appetites

Nausea and vomiting are debilitating things that come hand in hand with a range of different illnesses. THCA has already been found to have anti-emetic properties, meaning that it could be used to help to treat nausea and appetite loss. If someone is suffering from nausea, then they are unlikely to want to eat.

In 2013, a study was performed on rats that evaluated the anti-emetic and anti-nausea properties of THC and THCA. Data that was collected suggested that THCA may be a more potent alternative to THC in the treatment of nausea and vomiting.

Pain Management

Pain management is one area that has been well researched when paired with other cannabinoids, but not when paired with THCA. There is a minimal amount of research on this pairing. It is safe to assume that a therapeutic benefit could exist, but more research into this needs to be done.

May Help with Insomnia

Preliminary research into THC has found that it has a number of psychoactive effects that can help people with insomnia. The high feeling often helps people to settle down. The high feeling doesn’t exist with THCA unless it is heated up, at which point it becomes THC.

An overview study was undertaken in 2017 and it found that, while cannabis can help with insomnia, it can also impair sleep quality long-term. Naturally, this could result in a vicious cycle being formed. More research into this area definitely needs to be performed.

More Research is Needed on THCA

When we are talking about the psychoactive effects and medicinal benefits of cannabis use, THC and THCA are on opposite sides of the scale. The one thing that all of these medical areas have in common is that they all require more research. Hopefully, scientists and businesses will endeavor to start studies that include larger groups of people so that the data that is collected is more accurate.

How to use THCA

There are a few different ways in which you can use either THCA or THC. Some of these methods involve having access to a raw cannabis plant, while others are focused on simply enabling you to access the medicinal properties of THCA without having to have a plant to hand. Here are two different ways that you could use THCA:

Juicing Cannabis

Juicing is a ridiculously popular phenomenon, with juice bars popping up all over the place. Why shouldn’t cannabis have a place in your green smoothie? People are actually starting to use the raw plant as something that they can juice, enabling them to consume high levels of THCA in their daily diet. Because the juicing process does not involve heat, it doesn’t convert and become THC.

THCA Crystalline


THCA crystals are incredibly popular and they have been a trending topic over the past few years. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to make these on your own, but you can purchase them from marijuana dispensaries. A lot of people use THCA crystals to vape with, meaning that the heat will cause the decarboxylation process to occur.

Determining THCA Dosage

When laboratories are trying to determine the THC and THCA dosage of raw cannabis, they can either use gas chromatography or high-performance liquid chromatography. Gas chromatography is useless when it comes to determining the dosage of THCA. This is because it uses heat to start the decarboxylation process, meaning that it only results in THC values.

Liquid chromatography is different because it is best for determining THCA dosage. This is because it presents both separately as there is no heat involved and no decarboxylation process occurs.

How to Find Fresh Weed for Juicing

You have to make sure that you keep your cannabis raw and organic if you are seeking the benefits of THCA. You also need to make sure that you aren’t juicing anything that has been exposed to harmful toxins or chemicals. You can blend your cannabis with other freshly juiced greens and vegetables, creating a delicious treat.

Where to Purchase THCA Crystalline

There are a lot of dispensaries that are currently selling THCA crystalline. It looks like little gems that have been processed and it is generally considered to be one of the purest isolates on the market. If you vape THCA crystalline, then you will be accessing THC, not THCA. But, when you ingest THCA crystalline it remains non-psychoactive.

Getting Your THCA

If you are looking to enjoy the medicinal benefits that come with consuming THCA, then you need to make sure that your cannabis is not left to dry out or exposed to heat. This will eliminate what you are attempting to do for your health. We would advise that you use a juicer to see what concoctions you can create!

Farma Health Desk Editor

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