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What Is The Difference Between THCA Vs THC

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Firstly, what is THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid)? Your probably trying to figure out what is the difference between THC Vs THCA and we got the answer. THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid naturally found in the species Cannabis sativa. The THCA benefits differ from the other popular cannabinoids THC and CBD. Simply, Cannabis doesn’t produce Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic or THC, but rather produces the acid form called THCA. Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid becomes THC following heating, as the acid form is decarboxylated.

At your local dispensary, you can find THCA isolates in the form of a powder or tincture on dispensary shelves that have been shown to have many health benefits. We will explore a few of these benefits in this article.

Also, we take a look at how this new cannabinoid is being used as a great marketing tool to those uninformed about it. There is a lot of misunderstanding abot THCA vs THC, and it getting you higher. Labels are providing the percentages of this cannabinoid, and many are not educated about the difference between THCA and THC. It our goal to educate you about the THCA meaning, and its benefits. There are some real THCA benefits that we are going to discuss more about below.

THC vs THCA Explained

thca vs thc explained

Cannabinoids occur naturally in the plant Cannabis sativa. Currently there are over 110 cannabinoids known. The commonly known among these compounds is the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), which is the main psychoactive ingredient and cannabidiol (CBD), which is commonly used for medical purposes. However, before THC becomes psychoactive, it goes by another name called THCA. In this article, we look at THC vs THCA, and explain the difference between these two cannabinoids. The percentage of THCa to THC becomes lower than consumed with heat.


THCA Vs THC Chemical Structure

thc and thca molecular structure

Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid molecule has very different properties both chemically and in efficacy than the THC molecule. Unfortunately, research is limited on THCA to confidently conclude what it can treat and with what degree of efficacy. Many preliminary research and personal experiences have suggested that THCA plays a relevant role in cannabis medicine as the industry propels forward. One of the main differences between the THCA vs THC is a carboxyl group on its molecular structure. Smoking, cooking or vaping results in the removal of the carboxyl group off the THCA compound. During this reaction, the Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid releases CO and thus causing the reduction in mass of the THC.

How does THCA work?

The CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) function to regulate health and promote homeostasis throughout the human body. CB1 receptor functions primarily in the brain and nervous system and the CB2 receptor interacts within the immune system. Depending on the location of the CB1 receptor in which the cannabinoids bind, the response can vary. For example, if the action takes place in the limbic system, response may be alteration of memory, cognition and psychomotor performance; affects on the mesolimbic system may change pain and reward responses. It has been shown however, the Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid compound does not directly bind to any of these receptors.

THCA Benefits

what are THCA benefits

The benefits of this cannabis cannabinoid is not the exact same as its counterpart Tetrahydrocannabinol. There are some major medical difference between THCA vs THC and their benefits. The cannabinoid THCA can work to reduce inflammation pain and is an ideal for treating symptoms for arthritis, seizures, for diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Although THC and THCa will show a difference in medical benefits, its not too different compared to CBD. Here are 4 benefits of THCA below:

Neuroprotective Antioxidant

A 2012 study has shown that Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid has a protective property against an oxidative neurotoxin that is used to model Parkinson’s disease (a condition contributing to disordered movement). THCA and THC showed protective properties by preventing dopamine-producing neurons from dying off. In addition, there are many other studies that show THCA’s potential for treating neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s disease and epilepsy as well. The National Epilepsy Foundation has even stated that from laboratory tests and clinical studies cannabinoids that are non-psychoactive from cannabis could be helpful in controlling seizures.

Tourette Syndrome

The cannabis cannabinoid Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid has been shown recently to have a big affect on the symptoms of Tourette syndrome. Not THC, not CBD, but THCA! Without any psychoactive effects it has been shown to diminish the tics and outbursts that are present in people with Tourette syndrome. These THCA benefits can be expensive with a gram of concentrate averaging $30-$50. Choosing THC VS THCa for treating anxiety favors the non-psychoactive cannabinoid.

Antiemetic

A 2013 mouse study showed Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid has antiemetic properties. THCA has been shown to reduce nausea behaviors in rats and vomiting in shrews. The authors of this paper concluded that this cannabis compound might be a more effective than THC in controlling of these conditions.

There have been some first-hand experiences from people that have been consuming raw weed in the form of a salad or fruit smoothies. They claimed that THCA from the unheated cannabis treated their chronic and severe digestive problems. Other ways that Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid can be consumed is either in the powder or diamond form that will be discussed in depth further in this article, but simply put, consuming the cannabis plant raw, can also do the trick. There are many benefits of consuming the plant raw as one cannabis user states: first, it does not get you high and thus you can drive to places, second it improves quality of life as you view the world differently and positively.

More than 50% to 75% decrease in pain within 8 to 12 hours was experienced following Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid consumption. Another person claimed, cannabis helped him more than anything than what he’s ever been prescribed to treat his chronic and severe digestive problems.

Anti-inflammatory

One of the best THCA benefits is  its anti-inflammatory properties. One patient with advanced arthritis saw improvement and reduced pain just following using medical marijuana within a span of few hours. This patient had undergone 5 surgeries on both back and neck and even used prescribed medication such as Vicodin to reduce the pain, but it did not do the trick. This shows that cannabis can have many therapeutic benefits and pain relief. In 2011, THCA was found to be an effective anti-inflammatory. THCA was shown to inhibit two enzymes that have a role in contributing to pain, fever and swelling. So, you now know what is THCA medical properties with treating pain and its effectiveness.

Overall, the evidences regarding THCA’s beneficial properties is limited and thus require more studies to better understand it’s potential in medicine. It is important to acknowledge that everyone responds to marijuana differently. Some people regretted it after they consumed THC-dominant cannabis as it resulted in hyperventilation and paranoia. Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid is great for people that have these effects and are afraid of consuming the different ratios of THC: CBD. The Cannabinoid THCA is the least addictive and has the lowest side effects.

THCa Diamonds vs Crystalline vs Crystals vs Powder

Crystalline is a pure form of cannabis concentrates and THCA is commonly found in this form. Simply, THCA crystals are pure and formed into crystals with no terpene content. These crystallines are produced by removal of the impurities present in the cannabis oil. When you see a product labeled as THC crystals, you need to be careful, because THC crystalline structure does not exist. In fact, the product might actually just be THCA.

Due to the absence of terpenes in the crystals, there are no flavors and medicinal benefits. The terpene is required to aid in THCA penetrating the blood-brain barrier. Although crystallines are potent, it might not be the best form to consume if you are looking for beneficial affects or to alleviate certain symptoms of diseases mentioned above. Crystalline production involves the removal of terpenes process so the strain in which the THCA is coming from would not matter. For example, if you have THCA crystals from Durban Poison and THCA crystals from Northern Lights the effects of these two would be equivalent.

THCA crystals can also be described as THCA diamonds. It is basically the crystalline structures that develop at the bottom of the container. THCA diamonds can vary in size from very small to large chunks and can crystallize into multiple forms or sometimes called pseudo-polymorphs. How does this happen? The simple explanation is science! The crystalline structure is very dependent on temperature, moisture, and chemical impurities. Terpenes can interfere with THCA crystallization resulting in the various diamond structures we see on the dispensary shelves. Very cool!

THC Vs THCA Products

thc vs thca difference

The more famous THC is available in many different types of concentrates such as oil, wax, and shatter. The new THCa is available in many live resin concentrate options. The legal cannabis market is now labeling their THCA content on cannabis products. New and more potent products such as the THCA crystalline. 99 pure THC have introduced a whole new level of potency.

THCA Diamonds

thca diamonds

There are now THCA Diamonds, a cannabis extract that has high concentrates of this cannabinoid. The option of experiencing either THCA VS THC is determined by the way of consumption.  Dabbing THCA Diamonds will result in it converting into THC providing a intense psychoactive experience. Eating these cannabis extracted diamonds will provide the full THCA benefits possible.

Sources of THCA

THCA tinctures and isolates are available at dispensaries. But many patients prefer to get their daily doses of THCA through raw cannabis leaves and buds. Some popular methods people have tried and suggested include, juicing, smoothies, blended salad dressing, raw salads, steamed greens and raw sauces.

Lab Testing: THCA vs Tetrahydrocannabinol

Due to THCA’s bigger mass size compared to THC, this can alter lab results. These compounds are quantified by percent mass. When different labs use different techniques such as gas chromatography (GC) verses a liquid chromatography (LC), there are discrepancies of percent mass of the THCA and THC. GC and LC are two different techniques that are used to identify compounds based on compound mass. GC reactions take place under high temperatures and LC reaction takes places under room temperature. Scientists prefer using LC over GC because LC does not carboxylate the cannabinoids, and thus can differentiate between the THCA vs THC content.

Is Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid Psychoactive?

Definitely not! The THCA benefits come without any psychoactive effects if eaten. However, this cannabinoid will turn into THC with heat. In fact, THCA is underrated in the cannabis community at the moment. When cannabis is consumed raw, you can see and feel the affects positively. The cannabinoid THCA is trending among legal cannabis markets. It will not get you high but instead, make you feel good, health-wise. Of course, depending on your body type and mass you will react to cannabis.  But for those who are afraid of the side effects involved with THC, THCA is a less-potent alternative. It can alleviate many of the symptoms of the diseases mentioned above.

It seems, THCA has become the talk of the town as its proving to be an effective therapeutic cannabinoid. So, you now know what is THCA vs THC, and understand it can provide different medical benefits.

 

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Asrinus Subha
Asrinus Subha
A plant geneticist with several years of R&D experience in the cannabis industry and agriculture. I can provide in-depth knowledge of basic scientific principles in the fields of cell and systems biology and cannabis science. Visit my website: www.writewithme.ca

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