As more cannabis products become available to those who have their medical cannabis certification, patients are able to explore different cannabinoids, terpenes, and methods of consuming cannabis that makes each cannabis experience unique.
Medical cannabis patients may have seen a familiar-yet-different type of cannabinoid cropping up in their local dispensaries: THCA or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid.
What is THCA, Exactly?
THCA is a precursor to the psychoactive and intoxicating cannabinoid THC, or THC in its un-activated form. THCA is found in found in the trichomes of a cannabis plant, and converts to THC when exposed to heat or extreme pressure.
When patients purchase dried flower from a medical cannabis dispensary or are about to consume their own freshly cured cultivated cannabis (where permitted), the THC that will eventually lead to the feeling of being “high” is still in its unactivated form of THCA. It isn’t until the cannabis is decarboxylated or exposed to heat that it becomes THC.
The THCA in a bud of dried cannabis becomes decarboxylated and into its THC form when its lit with fire to be inhaled, heated through a vaporizer for vaping, placed in an oven before making edibles (200-245ºF for 30-40 minutes in a conventional oven is a general rule of thumb), or through the many methods that processors use to make extracts and concentrates.
THCA on its own does not cause intoxication because the molecular structure of THCA does not bind to the CB1 receptors in our endocannabinoid system, which is a physiological process required to feel psychoactive effects. Through decarboxylation, however, the molecular structure of THCA is changed to THC, where it can bind to the receptors within our endocannabinoid system.
See our short video below for an explainer on THCA:
The Emerging Benefits of THCA
While most of the research on cannabis medicine focuses on tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, there is an emerging body of research looking at the medicinal benefits of raw cannabis and THCA.
Both THC and THCA show promise for those seeking relief from nausea, with THCA with data from studies in animal models suggesting that “THCA may be a more potent alternative to THC in the treatment of nausea and vomiting”.
A 2017 study looked at THCA for addressing inflammation associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), observing that its effectiveness, plus the non-intoxicating effects makes THCA a more promising option than CBD for the treatment of this condition.
CBD has been a long-favored cannabinoid for seizure disorders, with THC not being the recommended route. However, studies show that THCA has anti-convulsant properties making it an alternative to CBD.
Research is also supporting that THCA can act as a powerful neuroprotectant, showing promise in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementia conditions.
Get Your THCA
If you’re interested in exploring THCA, there are various ways you can enjoy the benefits of cannabis in the raw.
Juicing raw cannabis leaves is one easy way to ingest THCA. In addition to having trichomes where THCA is stored, raw cannabis leaves are packed full of proteins, minerals, vitamins, fibers, and antioxidants, amino acids, as well as omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids that possess amazing antioxidant properties. Why not toss some raw leaves in your smoothie?
There are also products that are starting to find their way on the shelves of medical cannabis dispensaries that are in the form of THCA powder. These THCA powders can be added to flower to be smoked, or dabbed, which will activate them to create the psychoactive effect, but they can also be consumed in their raw form to experience the medicinal benefits of THCA without the high.
How Medical Cannabis Certification Can Help You Explore THCA
When you get your medical cannabis certification with Compassionate Clinics of America, you may be able to grow your own cannabis in states where recreational cannabis growing is not permitted. Growing your own cannabis not only allows you to enjoy the beautiful buds of your harvest, but you are also left with hundreds of cannabis leaves that can be used for juicing and consuming THCA.
In addition, medical cannabis dispensaries are more concerned with stocking products for their medicinal benefits rather than recreational dispensaries which are more concerned with products geared for intoxication. Thus, getting your medical cannabis certification will allow you access to more products, like those with THCA, that will provide medicinal benefits without intoxication.
Compassionate Clinics of America offers residents of Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maine, Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Georgia & Minnesota access to healthcare practitioners that are licensed in their state to provide medical cannabis certifications. When you become a patient of ours, you have continuous access to our award-winning patient education series, as well as access to discounts and events that are exclusive to our clinic. Contact us now to get your medical cannabis certification in your state.