As people begin to learn more about the potential benefits of cannabis, it becomes necessary to understand the different options out there. Different forms contain different chemical compounds that can affect us differently. Since some potential benefits are only caused by certain compounds, you need to know which ones to look for.
THC and THCA are very similar in name and are quite often confused. However, they are found in different products and can produce different results. If you’re interested in getting these effects, you’ll want to know the difference between THC vs. THCA. Luckily, we’re here to guide you through everything you need to know.
What Is THCA?
THCA is the shortened name for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. This is a cannabinoid that can be found in raw and live cannabis plants. Unlike THC, THCA is non-psychotropic.
This non-psychotropic quality comes from the size and shape of the molecule. To produce an effect, it would need to bind with the CB1 or CB2 receptors of our endocannabinoid systems. However, its larger size and three-dimensional shape mean it can’t fit well into the CB-1 receptors.
It’s also theorized that the acid forms of some other cannabinoids work with THCA to inhibit COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. These enzymes produce prostaglandins that could encourage pain, inflammation, and fever. Their inhibition could lead to potential reductions in pain and inflammation.
THCA is available through tinctures, capsules, topicals, and raw cannabis juice. However, many people prefer to buy the flower itself.
Related: 5 Best THC-A Products for 2023
What Is THC?
THC is another term for tetrahydrocannabinol. The Delta-9 form is the most well-known. This is the psychotropic, active cannabinoid. THC is more well-known by most people because of the effects it can have.
THC binds with certain receptors in the brain, particularly the ones that affect mood, pain, and other feelings. Because of this, it can lead to a high.
THC is available in every form of cannabis product. However, certain levels of the chemical are prohibited in certain states. It’s important to understand the levels you are potentially getting.
THC vs. THCA
The differences between THCA and THC are due to their chemical makeups. THCA has an additional carboxyl group that isn’t present in THC. This carboxyl group is removed through the process of decarboxylation that happens when THCA is heated. This heating and the resulting conversion can occur due to the following:
- Room temperature exposure
- Sunlight exposure
- Heat exposure via vaping, smoking, oven carboxylation, or concentrates
Comparison to Raw Cannabis
Raw cannabis and decarboxylated cannabis work very differently in the body. Cannabinoid acids are stored in adipose tissue, which is the fat in our bodies. It takes about four to eight weeks for full saturation to occur. Once this happens, you may start feeling the full medicinal effects of the cannabinoids.
Some people juice leaves and buds to help increase their intake of cannabinoids and promote full saturation. This is possible because THC is not present in raw cannabis, preventing the psychoactive effects.
Want to take advantage of the potential benefits of THCA? Take a look at our selection of products containing optimal doses of Delta-8 THCA.
Potential Benefits of THCA
Quite a few studies have been done to look at the effects of THC on humans. However, fewer clinical human trials have looked at THCA. Luckily, some research is being done to explore the potential benefits.
The anti-inflammatory properties of THCA are key. These could be used to reduce inflammation due to arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, and similar conditions. It also has neuroprotective properties, which might help treat neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. In June 2012, a preclinical study was published in Phytomedicine that suggested THCA can help protect the brain from the appearance of these kinds of diseases.
THCA also has anti-emetic properties that could help treat nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss, while its anti-proliferative properties might be effective for certain cancers. A 2013 animal model and cell culture study showed that THCA might help stop the spread of prostate cancer cells.
A July 2017 study from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Israel, and the Institute of Plant Sciences, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology determined that THCA might be more anti-inflammatory than CBD when it’s used to treat Crohn’s disease, IBD, and ulcerative colitis.
THCA also has potential other benefits such as:
- Reducing muscle spasms
- Encouraging and improving sleep
- An analgesic to relieve pain
- An antioxidant
Related: THC vs THCA: What Is the Difference?
Potential Benefits of THC
THC could produce the same potential benefits as THCA. However, it also has a few other benefits it could offer.
THC may be helpful in treating addictions. This is because it could help reduce the motivation to ingest substances that lead to a “reward,” such as alcohol, opioids, or heroin. It may be particularly effective in helping patients complete opioid treatment programs.
Some people may experience an increase in their metabolic output. This could help lower BMI and rates of diabetes, as well as prevent obesity related to diet.
THC may help reduce pain and pressure in the eye due to glaucoma because it promotes vasodilation. Finally, it may assist with increasing the amount of anandamide, which is a brain neurotransmitter that controls several bodily functions, including anxiety.
Prefer to have active THC in your products? Browse our selection of Delta-9 THC products.
Potential Side Effects of THCA
Before you take THCA, it’s important to understand any possible risks so you can make an informed decision. Potential side effects include dizziness, headache, anxiety, nausea, and cottonmouth. These can occur if you use a product with too high of a THCA percentage. In this case, higher does not necessarily mean better. In general, around 15-20% is considered to be a good THCA percentage.
If you are a beginner, you may want to start with a lower percentage. One helpful piece of advice insists that you can always take more later, but you can never undo the THCA you’ve already taken. Once you have a low dosage to start with, you can then slowly increase your dosage until it’s the level you prefer.
Which Will You Use, THC or THCA?
Both THC and THCA have some potential benefits that make them desirable for some people. Now that you understand the differences between THC vs. THCA, you can make an informed choice about what you want to use. If you want to take advantage of these, make sure to check the label on your products to see what’s included, and always purchase CBD and related products from a reputable source.
The information and content in this article are intended for informational purposes only. It should not be a substitute for professional or medical advice. You should always speak with a licensed professional before you follow anything you read online.
The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.