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What Is THCA? How Does It Work? What Are the Health Benefits?

With cannabis becoming legal in more and more states, cannabinoids are getting a lot more attention.

Some people don’t want the mind-altering high that THC brings, and other cannabinoids offer alternatives for pain relief, insomnia, and other ailments.

THCA is one of the lesser-known cannabinoids but is gaining in popularity. Figuring out the differences between THCA, THC, and other cannabis compounds can be tricky, though.

Luckily, we’re here to help. If you’re wondering “what is THCA?” we’ve put together a useful guide to everything you need to know about THCA. Read on to learn more!

What Is THCA?

To put it simply, THCA is a cannabinoid acid found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that react with receptors in our bodies to produce effects such as pain relief.

Various cannabinoids have different effects on humans. This is because they all have variations in molecular structure that interact with different receptors.

Our endocannabinoid system is capable of producing its own cannabinoids. However, many people turn to isolated cannabinoids or pure cannabis plants to treat certain symptoms.


THCA is considered a precursor to THC. This is because it is extremely similar on a molecular level.

The THCA molecule is slightly larger than that of THC. Because of its larger size, it does not bind to the receptors responsible for the “high” feeling that THC can give.

All it takes to convert THCA to THC is heat. So smoking, vaporizing, or even sun-drying fresh flower will convert THCA to THC.

Up to 90 percent of the potential THC in a cannabis plant is actually stored as THCA.

This is why cannabis plants are cured in a warm, dry room before consumption. This allows for more of the THCA to convert to THC.

This is why when making edibles, the flower is decarboxylated. Heating it at a low temperature for about 20 minutes will cause THCA to chemically convert to THC.

THCA can be distilled and turned into a concentrate, which makes for an incredibly potent dose of THC when hit with heat from a lighter or vaporizer.

How Can I Take THCA?

Because heat converts THCA to THC, you want to avoid heat if you want the effects of THCA.

Contrary to popular belief, ingesting raw cannabis does not get you high. This is because the THCA has not been converted yet.

Raw cannabis smoothies and juices are popular ways to get some of the health benefits from THCA and other cannabinoids. This avoids the high that some people find unpleasant, with a lot of the “good stuff” effects.

Tinctures and oils are also available for oral dosing.

Research is still ongoing for THCA. Like CBD, it may be possible to isolate and stabilize THCA for consumption, without it turning into THC. However, this is still a ways off.

THCA Legality

Because THCA can convert to THC, it is best to avoid it if you are in a state where cannabis is not legal.

Cannabis is still considered a Schedule I drug federally, and because THCA is an analog of THC, it is considered to be illegal as well.

Additionally, if you have a job that drug tests for THC, be aware that THCA can metabolize into THC in your body. This may or may not show up on a drug test.

THCA Benefits

While it may not cause the elevated feelings that THC brings, THCA has many health benefits in its own right.

THCA research is still in its infancy, so its full potential is not known, and studies are sparse. As we learn more about “what is THCA” we will likely find more uses in the future.


One of the most popular uses for THCA is as an anti-emetic. This means that it reduces nausea and increases appetite.

This makes it a popular choice for people undergoing treatments for cancer. People who suffer from digestive disorders may also find relief with THCA.


Many cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes cannabis one of the most popular non-pharmaceutical pain management options.

However, THCA shows particular promise as an anti-inflammatory agent. People who suffer from arthritis and auto-immune disorders such as Lupus have used THCA for relief from their symptoms.


While THC can make you forgetful sometimes, THCA has been shown to increase protection against degenerative neural diseases.

Research conducted on mice shows that THCA shows significant results in halting the advance of degenerative disease.

For humans, this means afflictions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s can be managed with THCA. As traditional treatment for these diseases is still ineffective, THCA may have a major role to play in the future.

Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth

Cannabis is well-known for its cancer-fighting properties. However, as research grows, it is starting to seem that THCA is responsible for this effect.

Preliminary studies of prostate cancer patients treated with THCA show that it was effective in slowing the growth of tumors.

Diabetes And Obesity

While it can encourage a hearty appetite, THCA also plays a role in regulating body systems that are impacted by diabetes and obesity.

Early studies show that THCA helps to prevent fat deposits, fatty liver disease, and metabolic issues that arise from obesity and diabetes.

Entourage Effect

Because cannabis is a complex plant made of many cannabinoids, they often work best together.

THCA is an excellent complement to other cannabinoids such as CBD and CBG. This is because of the entourage effect.

The entourage effect is the cooperative “teamwork” effects of different cannabinoids. For example, CBD helps to temper the anxiety that THC can sometimes give.

THCA can potentially enhance the effects of other cannabinoids when taken together. This is why “full-spectrum” oils, tinctures, and other products are very popular for CBD users.

The Future Of THCA

What is THCA? It may be an excellent treatment for many people. As more states legalize cannabis and research grows, the future of THCA looks very bright.

It already has a strong showing in treating many disease symptoms and may have the potential for even more.

If you are interested in trying medical THCA or other cannabis products, schedule a tele-consult with us today. Contact us any time at (443) 420-8018!

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