THCA is the precursor to THC, so the chemical structure of the two compounds is similar. The only difference is that THCA has an extra small molecule attached to it known as a carboxyl group.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA for short, is a cannabinoid that is abundant in live and raw marijuana plants. THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It is found in the stems, leaves, and flowers of marijuana plants. It’s thought to have a variety of health benefits.
As the plant dries, THCA slowly converts to THC. Heat expedites this conversion in a process known as decarboxylation, a fancy word that describes what happens when you smoke or vaporize flower.
Fresh marijuana plants are generally low in THC, with higher levels of THCA. As cannabis dries and ages, the carboxyl group molecule is released from the THCA very slowly, leaving THC in its place. The speed of this process, known as decarboxylation, is greatly increased when cannabis is heated or burned.
Every high-THC strain that has not yet been decarboxylated contains THCA, and these cannabinoid levels are particularly high as a live or freshly harvested plant. For this reason, raw cannabis parts are popularly juiced for their THCA benefits
Fresh and dried cannabis is normally rich in THCA, offering cannabis users who prefer flower an on-hand supply of the cannabinoid. But to protect the THCA, you’ll have to consume it without burning or heating it too much, so smoking and vaping is out. Instead, dried bud can be finely ground and added to prepared foods, smoothies, or even salad dressings. Tinctures made with cannabis that has not been decarboxylated should also be high in THCA.
Note that if you want to consume THCA, you’ll want to avoid heating your cannabis. The reason is that heat can cause THCA to change into an entirely different cannabinoid. Some examples of ways in which people consume their THCA raw include juicing raw cannabis, using raw cannabis tinctures, using THCA patches, or consuming raw THCA edibles, including THCA powders.
Here is a list of conditions THCA may help in relieving in some individuals
THCA works to relieve inflammation, pain and is an ideal cannabinoid for treating symptoms of such conditions as arthritis, seizures. THCA is an effective neuroprotectant, so it is beneficial in the treatment of such conditions as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
Not all cannabis cultivars are alike, and as organic farmers continue to breed their specific genetics, users need to know what the cannabinoid profile is. Knowing the flower, they are testing can bring positive experiences, the best experience and outcome, and make an educated decision on what will be best for their medical issue and or aliment. Please check with your cannabis therapy consultant for more guidance.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources. Please check with your Cannabis Educated Primary Health Care Physician or Educated & Trained Cannabis Therapy Consultant before beginning any new diet or lifestyle change.
Written by Dr. Pepper Hernandez ND, Ph.D., CTC, CNHP in ECS & Naturopathic Medicine, Cannabis Therapy Consultant, The Founder and Education Director of the Cannabis Holistic Institute. To find out more about her Telemedicine Consultations, Educational Programs, YouTube videos, and other creative content, you can and find her on the massive inter-webs on all platforms or at drpepperhernandez.com.
Go forth, Go Cannabis...
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Raw/Live Nutritionist, Naturopath, Cannabis Therapy Consultant, Medical Intuitive & Ascension Guide