Even if you don’t know that much about cannabis, chances are that you have heard plenty of times about THC. THC is the most famous cannabinoid because it has psychoactive properties. In other words, THC will get you high, while other cannabinoids have just medical properties or very mild psychoactive properties.
THC is present in cannabis leaves in its acidic form. This THC form is commonly known as THCA. THC needs to be activated to have psychoactive properties. In short, if you eat or chew some THC-rich cannabis leaves, you won’t get high as it is actually THCA. So, how do we activate it? Let’s explain how it is done!
What is a cannabinoid?
Cannabinoids are chemicals found in cannabis. The two most famous cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but there are many others such as CBC, CBN or CBG. The latter one is also known as “the mother of all cannabinoids” because its acidic form (CBGA) is the precursor of three major cannabinoids: THCA, CBDA, and CBCA.
Each cannabinoid has different properties. Mostly all, have anti-inflammatory properties and they have been researched for their potential anti-cancer properties. Naturally, all cannabinoids are found in their acidic form, i.e., CBDA, THCA, CBGA etc.
What is the acidic form?
We can distinguish between acidic and neutral cannabinoids. Neutral cannabinoids are not found in fresh plant material as they are only found in their acidic forms. In order to obtain cannabinoids in their neutral forms, these need to undergo a process called decarboxylation. In other words, a chemical reaction where a carboxyl group is released as carbon dioxide (CO2).
The process of decarboxylation is fundamental to “activate” the cannabinoids. This process involves the exposure of cannabis to light, heat, or prolonged storage. After decarboxylation, the cannabinoids convert from their acidic forms to their neutral forms. For example, THCA converts to THC and CBDA to CBD.
One of the most common form of decarboxylation is the process of storing cannabis for a few weeks. Nonetheless, just smoking cannabis decarboxylates it.
What is THCA?
THCA is the acidic form of THC and this acidic form is not psychoactive. However, it is been researched for its potential medical properties. For instance, although THCa and CBDa are generally labelled as pharmacologically inactive, it is thought that they have medical properties on their own.
It seems like the acidic forms of THC and CBD also alleviate symptoms in patients after a few days to a few weeks of daily ingestion of acidic cannabinoids.
There are relatively few studies on THCA and its potential use. Nonetheless, preliminary studies have linked THCA with anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anti-emetic, and anti-cancer properties. In addition, it might also have potential effects in the treatment of muscle spasms, pain and insomnia.
Medical uses of THCA
As mentioned above, we still need more research on THCA, and its potential therapeutics uses. THCA is thought to have similar potential health benefits as other neutral cannabinoids such as THC or CBD. However, unlike THC, THCA is not psychoactive which means it could be used like CBD in patients that do not want to consume cannabis for its psychoactive properties.
How Can I Consume THCA?
You need to consume cannabis products that haven’t been decarboxylated. In other words, raw marijuana parts (buds, leaves). In addition, you can also consume cannabis oils that haven’t gone through decarboxylation. For example, cannabis oils that have been extracted using solvents or supercritical CO2 (a liquid form of CO2 that acts as a solvent to separate cannabinoids from the plant material) but that haven’t been activated (decarboxylated).
TCHA is not psychoactive but you can still consume it for its medical properties!