By: Laine Hammer

So, if you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve heard of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the primary cannabinoid in cannabis responsible for providing a “high” – but did you know about THC’s cousin, THCa? THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is the non-intoxicating acid form of THC found in the cannabis plant when it’s raw. THC starts off as THCa, and only becomes THC when the plant is heated, burned, or vaporized, a process known as decarboxylation. Unlike THC, THCa doesn’t induce any intoxicating effects – you can even eat a cannabis flower fresh off the plant and not feel high. I bet you’re wondering, “What’s the point of THCa if it doesn’t get me high?” Hey, THCa is so much more than that, and I’ll tell you why.

In case you were hoping the answer had changed – sorry folks, THCa will not get you high – but it does some pretty cool stuff instead. Let me break it down for you. Since THCa is the raw form of THC, it interacts with the body differently and does not deliver intoxicating effects. The reason? It’s shape! The three-dimensional shape of the THCa molecule makes it larger, and therefore, it doesn’t fit into our cannabinoid receptors – more specifically, the CB1 receptor. A cannabinoid must fit into a body’s CB1 receptor in order to deliver an intoxicating effect. Now if that isn’t a party anecdote, I don’t know what is. Now that you know why THCa doesn’t get you high, here’s the 411 on how it works, the difference between THC and THCa, how to experiment with it, and why it might just become your new favorite tincture (FYI, it’s mine!).

While we’ve established that THCa doesn’t get you high (it’s not all about the high!), it does some pretty cool stuff. Like when you’ve been sitting at your desk all day staring at your computer, trying to write an interesting yet informative article but your eyes are glazing over and your brain is turning into mush? That’s when I use it. Around 3pm, I’ve been putting 0.25ml of our raw, THCa Living Tincture under my tongue, letting it sit for 15-20 seconds, and waiting for the magic to happen. The magic comes in the form of a little more pep in my proverbial step – feeling more awake, alert, and focused on the task at hand. And hey, it’s a way better option than that 3pm espresso, cup of coffee, or sugary snack! Not just a quick 15-30 minute jolt, but several hours of feeling ready for anything. Plus, no headaches! THCa is a true game changer. Not only is it great for getting out of that afternoon slump, but lends its powers to other amazing benefits as well.

The Benefits of THCa

  • Neuroprotective
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic properties
  • Anti-proliferative
  • Anti-nausea
  • Promotes alertness & focus

For those of us who save THC for planned nights on the couch or a sleep remedy and need a little help with keeping your brain alert, our Living Tincture is for you! So now that your interest is piqued, here’s a little 411 on just how it improves brain function and keeps you motivated.

Wait, But How Does THCa Work?

Here’s a little refresher from above: cannabis in its purest form – fresh off the plant – has THCa in it. THCa is THC before it’s been decarboxylated – heating a cannabinoid in order to remove a carboxyl group. Cannabis plants aren’t automatically equipped with cannabinoids; they start out as cannabinoid acids. When cannabinoid acids undergo the decarboxylation process , they lose a carboxyl group and become THC and CBD. THCa can be decarboxylated by vaporizing, smoking, baking, and leaving cannabis out in the hot sun for an extended period of time. When isolating THCa most manufacturers use a chemical process that separates the THCa from the other plant components and strips away terpenes and flavonoids. But at Papa & Barkley, we use fresh-frozen flowers infused in low heat to allow for the full spectrum of cannabinoids and a flavorful terpene profile. As previously mentioned, THCa is the raw, acidic form of THC, and their molecular makeup is similar, but due to its shape, it does not bind to the CB1 receptor in your endocannabinoid system. THCa, along with other acidic cannabinoids, may act as an inhibitor to COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, which can help battle pain and inflammation. Plus, THCa could also boost levels of the endocannabinoid 2-AG, which regulates several health functions. I know, I know, that was a little more science-y than you bargained for, but hey, I gotta give the people what they want! (aka science!). Basically, THCa doesn’t get decarboxylated or bind to a CB1 receptor, thus, the body and mind reacts to it differently than CBD and THC.

What is the difference between THCa and THC?

Cannabis in its purest form – fresh off the plant – has THCa in it. THCa is THC before it’s been decarboxylated – heating a cannabinoid in order to remove a carboxyl group. Just like your favorite cold-pressed juice, our THCa tincture keeps all the raw plant components intact. As mentioned, unlike THC, THCa does not produce intoxicating effects, but instead can promote alertness, focus, and help with nausea. While THC can be used in these ways as well, it also lends itself to treating normal inflammation, providing whole body comfort, and you know, giving your brain and body a little something extra. Ongoing research continues to show the potential benefits of THCa – making a name for itself as the non-intoxicating alternative to THC.

How to dose with THCa

Microdosing Like all of our tinctures, go at your own pace. If you’re new to cannabis, or tinctures in general, we recommend microdosing. Take it one day at a time – slow and low – by starting with just 0.25ml a day. Like I mentioned, I started microdosing with it this past month and love it. I’ve found it’s a lot better than drinking a cup of coffee at 4pm (i.e. no caffeine headache!). I’m a big fan of microdosing because it allows your body to get used to the tincture and figure out what dosage works best for your body. While I’m still figuring out my perfect dosage with THCa, I haven’t found one I don’t like. If you’re like me and need that afternoon pick-me-up, or want to skip the caffeine in the mornings, I can’t recommend our raw, THCa Living Tincture enough. You can find it here! If you have more specific needs, discover our line of both California and national products on our site. Any questions? Please reach out to our customer service team at [email protected]

Ready to Try THCa?

Resources & Citations

What is THCa?
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What is THCa?
What is THCa? THCa is the non-intoxicating acid form of THC found in raw cannabis. Learn about THCa and how it improves focus and brain function.
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Papa & Barkley
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