by Jacquelyn Nause
THCa, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in raw cannabis and live cannabis plants. While it is commonly thought that cannabis plants contain cannabinoids like THC and CBD, the compounds in the plant are actually produced in acid form and can be converted to the more commonly recognized forms through curing and other refining processes. Allow us to explain.
The Difference Between THC and THCa
THCa is very different from THC in both its chemical makeup and how it interacts with the body. THCa gradually becomes THC during the drying process — a process that is accelerated when heat is added to the equation, such as when vaping, smoking or cooking over a period of time in order to be ingested. Heat and light lead to a chemical reaction called decarboxylation, which removes a carboxyl group, resulting in a molecule that more readily interacts with the body.
THCa molecules are larger than THC molecules and cannot bind to the body’s cannabinoid receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system. THC is one of the cannabinoids that readily interacts with CB1 receptors to produce a high, euphoric feeling. But that doesn’t mean there are no benefits to THCa or raw cannabis. There are quite a few, and more are being discovered and studied.
Benefits of THCa vs. THC
Cannabis is an incredible superfood because it is dense with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Not only is raw cannabis high in fiber, but also omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and K, calcium, iron and folate. In addition, ongoing research into the benefits of THCa and THC has already produced very intriguing conclusions. Apart from being a non-psychoactive alternative to many of the benefits of THC, THCa can help support the body’s ability to fight nausea and appetite loss, inflammation and pain. So if you’re struggling to find natural solutions to support whatever it is your body may be needing — whether it’s after a long and stressful day or to help in recovery, THCa can be the perfect option for you. Here are some additional benefits of THCa:
- THCa may have neuroprotective properties, showing promise in the relief from symptoms
of neurodegenerative disorders.
- THCa and other cannabinoids deserve further research in the treatment of various types of epilepsy.
- Research shows promise for THCa in the reduction of inflammation due to inflammatory bowel diseases.
- Early studies in mice suggest that THCa reduced weight gain and inflammation associated with diet-induced obesity.
A significant feature of THCa is its ability to work at lower doses than THC. The therapeutic potential of THCa is all the more exciting due to legalization of the cannabis plant in conjunction with the non-psychoactive nature of the compound, making it readily accessible to most anyone who would like to try it. Not only can you get the benefits of THCa from raw cannabis, but also get a few key nutrients in as well.
How to Consume THCa
If you don’t want the high but want to obtain all the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of THCa, there are plenty of ways to do so. Because THCa is highly bioavailable in raw cannabis, the number of ways to ingest it is only limited by your creativity. Eat the plant like any other leafy green vegetable — add it to salads, juices, salad dressings or sauces is a great way to get started. As with any form of cannabis, start low with a low dosage and increase the dosage slowly to find your sweet spot.
Other methods of obtaining the benefits of THCa include Papa & Barkley’s THCa Living Tincture, a fresh frozen, low-heat cannabis flower infusion — think of cold-pressed juice. It’s easy to add to your routine alone, or to incorporate into other smoothies, shakes and other existing parts of your wellness regimen.
Papa & Barkley offers whole-plant infused products containing a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes, so you get the full synergistic benefits of the cannabis plant. As with any cannabis product, it is important to seek quality sources. Papa & Barkley offers details about its production and a certificate of analysis for each product upon request. To learn more about our products and cannabis in general, check out our Cannabis Compendium and resources on our blog.
Jacquelyn Nause is a contributing writer with specialties in cannabis, real estate and wellness. She enjoys traveling with her husband, being a doting mother to her two incredible kids and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest playground.
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