What Is THCA?: The Cannabinoid No One Talks About

vape pen with THCA crystals
Shutterstock / Brandon Crawford

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is a cannabinoid present in unprocessed hemp plants. Therefore, THCA by itself could have possible medicinal benefits. THCA is short for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. It is a chemical cousin to tetrahydrocannabinol. When natural, unprocessed cannabis flower is heated like when it is smoked or vaped, THCA becomes THC. It, in turn, creates the intoxicating effect associated with the cannabis plant. Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid alone, however, does not have any intoxicating reactions.

Table of Contents

  1. The Differences
  2. What does the Research Say About?
  3. Benefits of THCA
  4. Types of Products
  5. FAQ
  6. Closing Thoughts

Table of Contents

  1. The Differences
  2. What does the Research Say About?
  3. Benefits of THCA
  4. Types of Products
  5. FAQ
  6. Closing Thoughts

How to Tell the Difference Between

THCA occurs before THC. Heat is the main factor that converts the raw compound into its psychoactive cousin THC. But before the heat process occurs, it is possible to isolate the cannabinoid in unprocessed cannabis plants. It, much like CBD, is isolated and separated from the rest of the compounds present in hemp plants.

The other main difference between the two cannabinoids is that one does not have the same intoxicating effects. The first works in much the same way as CBD. It contains therapeutic properties and does not cause any intoxication in the user. The second causes the intoxicating reactions commonly associated with the cannabis plant used. These findings have only become possible thanks to the more relaxed attitudes toward hemp and cannabis. It has allowed scientists to study the potential of all cannabinoids more thoroughly.

THCA occurs before THC. Heat is the main factor that converts the raw compound into its psychoactive cousin THC. But before the heat process occurs, it is possible to isolate the cannabinoid in unprocessed cannabis plants. It, much like CBD, is isolated and separated from the rest of the compounds present in hemp plants.

The other main difference between the two cannabinoids is that one does not have the same intoxicating effects. The first works in much the same way as CBD. It contains therapeutic properties and does not cause any intoxication in the user. The second causes the intoxicating reactions commonly associated with the cannabis plant used. These findings have only become possible thanks to the more relaxed attitudes toward hemp and cannabis. It has allowed scientists to study the potential of all cannabinoids more thoroughly.

What the Science Says

The studies so far done on the potential benefits have found that it is:

However, the unstable nature of the compound makes it challenging to study in laboratory settings. However, many people think that the “heat” that must be applied to convert it into THC is the flame from a lighter. Instead, the isolated chemical can turn it into something else at room temperature.

Famed cannabis researcher Raphael Mechoulam has written about how impossible it is to study because of the volatile nature of cannabis. The chemical wants to become THC, and it isn’t easy to prevent it from doing so. As a result, scientists are still struggling to keep it in its unadulterated state. Nevertheless, these early studies have shown that there may be potential medicinal benefits.

The studies so far done on the potential benefits have found that it is:

However, the unstable nature of the compound makes it challenging to study in laboratory settings. However, many people think that the “heat” that must be applied to convert it into THC is the flame from a lighter. Instead, the isolated chemical can turn it into something else at room temperature.

Famed cannabis researcher Raphael Mechoulam has written about how impossible it is to study because of the volatile nature of cannabis. The chemical wants to become THC, and it isn’t easy to prevent it from doing so. As a result, scientists are still struggling to keep it in its unadulterated state. Nevertheless, these early studies have shown that there may be potential medicinal benefits.

Benefits of THCA

There are no known or proven benefits to THCA. However, scientists are continuing to study the compound to make sure. The problem with Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is that it is difficult to maintain even in a sterile lab environment. It means it is difficult to study. In studies that have successfully extracted and maintained it in its natural form, researchers have found that the chemical binds to the endocannabinoid receptors in the body like CBD and THC. But they have not found any conclusive evidence that THCA provides any benefits at all.

There are no known or proven benefits to THCA. However, scientists are continuing to study the compound to make sure. The problem with Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is that it is difficult to maintain even in a sterile lab environment. It means it is difficult to study. In studies that have successfully extracted and maintained it in its natural form, researchers have found that the chemical binds to the endocannabinoid receptors in the body like CBD and THC. But they have not found any conclusive evidence that THCA provides any benefits at all.

THCA Products

THCA-crystals-inside-container
Shutterstock / Brandon Crawford

As this compound is still being researched, it is not as commercially widespread as CBD or THC. Still, there are a select amount of products out there based around this particular phytocannabinoid. These products usually come in capsules or patches. So users can take the same way they would take hemp extract. But, given the chemical’s volatility and how easily it changes, it is uncertain whether these products genuinely contain the compound in its unaltered form.

THCA-crystals-inside-container
Shutterstock / Brandon Crawford

As this compound is still being researched, it is not as commercially widespread as CBD or THC. Still, there are a select amount of products out there based around this particular phytocannabinoid. These products usually come in capsules or patches. So users can take the same way they would take hemp extract. But, given the chemical’s volatility and how easily it changes, it is uncertain whether these products genuinely contain the compound in its unaltered form.

Everything You Need to Know About

Why Choose THCA?

THCA could potentially have several medicinal properties. But it is still not known what they are precise. The few studies that have come out point to several possibilities. But more research is needed because the compound is difficult to keep in its natural state.

Is it psychoactive?

THCA is not psychoactive. It does become psychoactive when it turns into THC, but that is the nature of the compound.

Is THCA illegal?

THCA is not illegal, but it occupies a gray area for law enforcement with its close relationship to THC. As raw, unaltered THCA is still raw, it is hard to distinguish from THC. But in its natural form, THCA is not illegal to possess or consume, even though it could become THC when consumed. So be aware if you are subject to any drug tests.

Does It Have Any Side Effects?

Taking it is not known to produce any known side effects. But it is still too early to say its effects on the body, as it easily becomes THC.

What are the side effects of THCA?

The side effects of THCA resemble those of THC ingestion either by smoking, vaping, or eating an edible like paranoia, euphoria, anxiety, or sleepiness. The only problem is that THCA products are rare, as the compound is not often included in as many products as THC or CBD.

The compound is unstable and will not stay in its THCA state for long if extracted and processed. For those who have tried THCA, the side effects may include a high similar to THC. But the drug will affect different people differently, so it is hard to say.

Does THCA show up on drug tests?

Yes, THCA will show up on a drug test. THCA is a close cousin of pure THC. THCA is the step before the chemical becomes THC. Even if someone can ingest pure THCA, the chemical will metabolize in the body as THC and show up on a drug test as that drug. There are no drug tests that are sophisticated enough to tell the difference between the two.

Is THCA toxic?

No, it is not toxic in the sense that it will cause someone harm if they take it. People who are allergic to cannabinoids may react. But the compound is relatively harmless when compared to other drugs and intoxicants.

Which is better for pain CBD or THCA?

Neither CBD nor THCA is recognized as a scientifically proven treatment for any type of pain by the Food and Drug Administration. If users are experiencing any kind of pain, they should take their prescribed medication or any over-the-counter medication for pain. Users can self-medicate with either CBD or THCA if it has been pre-approved by their medical doctor.

Why Choose THCA?

THCA could potentially have several medicinal properties. But it is still not known what they are precise. The few studies that have come out point to several possibilities. But more research is needed because the compound is difficult to keep in its natural state.

Is it psychoactive?

THCA is not psychoactive. It does become psychoactive when it turns into THC, but that is the nature of the compound.

Is THCA illegal?

THCA is not illegal, but it occupies a gray area for law enforcement with its close relationship to THC. As raw, unaltered THCA is still raw, it is hard to distinguish from THC. But in its natural form, THCA is not illegal to possess or consume, even though it could become THC when consumed. So be aware if you are subject to any drug tests.

Does It Have Any Side Effects?

Taking it is not known to produce any known side effects. But it is still too early to say its effects on the body, as it easily becomes THC.

What are the side effects of THCA?

The side effects of THCA resemble those of THC ingestion either by smoking, vaping, or eating an edible like paranoia, euphoria, anxiety, or sleepiness. The only problem is that THCA products are rare, as the compound is not often included in as many products as THC or CBD.

The compound is unstable and will not stay in its THCA state for long if extracted and processed. For those who have tried THCA, the side effects may include a high similar to THC. But the drug will affect different people differently, so it is hard to say.

Does THCA show up on drug tests?

Yes, THCA will show up on a drug test. THCA is a close cousin of pure THC. THCA is the step before the chemical becomes THC. Even if someone can ingest pure THCA, the chemical will metabolize in the body as THC and show up on a drug test as that drug. There are no drug tests that are sophisticated enough to tell the difference between the two.

Is THCA toxic?

No, it is not toxic in the sense that it will cause someone harm if they take it. People who are allergic to cannabinoids may react. But the compound is relatively harmless when compared to other drugs and intoxicants.

Which is better for pain CBD or THCA?

Neither CBD nor THCA is recognized as a scientifically proven treatment for any type of pain by the Food and Drug Administration. If users are experiencing any kind of pain, they should take their prescribed medication or any over-the-counter medication for pain. Users can self-medicate with either CBD or THCA if it has been pre-approved by their medical doctor.

Conclusion: What Is THCA?: A Beginner’s Guide

Have you ever heard about this cannabinoid? Would you take these products? Let us know in the comments section below.

Scientists are discovering more about the complexities of cannabis every day. THCA is one of those fascinating discoveries that hold a lot of potentials. However, it is still relatively new, and there needs to be more research on cannabis done before it can catch on, like CBD or even THC. The few studies that have been done show it could help treat some ailments as cannabidiol, but that is still a long way off.

Have you ever heard about this cannabinoid? Would you take these products? Let us know in the comments section below.

Scientists are discovering more about the complexities of cannabis every day. THCA is one of those fascinating discoveries that hold a lot of potentials. However, it is still relatively new, and there needs to be more research on cannabis done before it can catch on, like CBD or even THC. The few studies that have been done show it could help treat some ailments as cannabidiol, but that is still a long way off.

Published: March 2, 2021 Updated: September 21, 2021


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