Differences Between THCA and THC

When cannabis leaves mature, their chemical structure changes. THC is the most well-known cannabinoid because it accounts for the psychotropic effects we experience after smoking marijuana, but did you know that cannabis does not directly produce THC? Instead, it transforms tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) into cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), which is used to make all cannabinoids in an acidic form.

THC has an anti-inflammatory effect since it opposes the development of inflammation. THCa is not hallucinogenic in any way. The conversion of THCa to THC requires decarboxylation. When fresh buds are dried and cured, this transformation begins. However, when THCa is subjected to heat, for example from smoking or vaporizing cannabis or cooking edible meals, a large proportion of it changes into THC in its non-psychoactive acid form. In other words.,

What is THCA?

Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the “mother of all cannabinoids,” is responsible for the presence of all of the major cannabinoids in cannabis. Enzymes unique to each cannabis strain that convert CBGA to various forms of the three primary cannabinoid precursor chemicals: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA) as the cannabis plant matures.

Cannabichromene (CBC) is a CB1 and CB2 receptor antagonist that acts as a modulator in the endocannabinoid system. It’s also known by its street name, “CBD.” THC stands for delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the psychoactive cannabinoid present in cannabis plants. THCA is the chemical precursor to THC; it comes from thermal decarboxylation of cannabichromene (CBC). This explains why you won’t feel anything if you chew fresh cannabis; there hasn’t been enough time for sunshine or other sources of energy to transform THCA into THC.

When cannabis is smoked, vaped, baked into an edible, or extracted to create a concentrate, it induces intoxication due to the fact that the most popular ways of consuming cannabis – smoking, vaporizing, cooking into an edible, and extracting – are all strong enough to start the transformation of THCA into THC.

The Difference Between THC and THCa

THC and THCa have significantly different chemical compositions and ways of interacting with the body. During the drying procedure, THCA gradually changes into THC; a process that is sped up when heat is added to the equation, such as when smoking or vaping cannabis over time in order to be consumed. The heating and lightening of cannabis causes a chemical change known as decarboxylation, which removes a carboxyl group from the THCA molecule and makes it more receptive to interaction with the body.

THC binds to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, making them incompatible with THCa molecules. THC is one of the cannabinoids that readily binds to CB1 receptors and generates a euphoric feeling. That isn’t to imply that THCa or raw cannabis don’t have any benefits. There are several, and more are being discovered and understood on a daily basis.


Although the two cannabinoids, THC and THCA, have a lot of similarities and distinct differences, they are similar in some ways but vastly different in others. Look at the tables below to see where they overlap and diverge.

Properties of THCA:

  • Non-psychoactive
  • Naturally occurs in raw cannabis
  • Weak activator of CB1 and CB2 receptors
  • Represents up to 90% of the total THC content of cannabis plants
  • May provide soothing and neurological effects

Properties of THC:

  • Exerts psychoactive effects
  • Produced through decarboxylation
  • Stronger activator of the CB1 receptor
  • Synergises with numerous cannabis terpenes including pinene, limonene, caryophyllene, and linalool
  • Associated with several benefits including relaxation, sleep and appetite promotion, and euphoria

What Does the Research Say About THCA?

There has been a lot of study on THCA, however the vast majority of it has been done on animals or cells. Until clinical trials are conducted, we must be cautious about the consequences of THCA in humans. However, based on the current research, we may anticipate something.

·        Weight Loss

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical component of cannabis that has been found in earlier studies to aid weight reduction. The cannabinoid activates PPARy receptors and aids in fat loss, according on a study published in 2020.

·        May Soothe Joints

THCV’s interaction with the PPARy and CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system might help to cure joint and other bodily parts.

·        Queasiness

According to one early study, the oils may help relieve nausea stomach. Although the evidence is still evolving, this finding has the potential to expand THCA’s application in cannabis research.

·        Organ Health

In this research, scientists found that naringin-rich grape extract increased alcohol consumption in rats. Human liver tissue was also discovered to contain THCA. This was one of several studies to look at the effect of THCA on mouse liver health. The findings showed promise, laying the groundwork for considerably more study in the future.

Benefits of THCa vs. THC

Cannabis is a powerful antioxidant, and it’s high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Raw cannabis also contains a significant amount of fiber as well as vitamins C and K, calcium, iron, and folate. Furthermore, THCa research has already revealed some intriguing results. THCa may help the body fight nausea and hunger loss by reducing inflammation and pain. If you’re looking for natural treatments to help with whatever your body demands, whether it’s after a lengthy and tiring day or during recovery, THCa may be the answer. Here are a few more advantages of THCa:

  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid that has been investigated for neuroprotective effects.
  • Epilepsy is a neurological disease characterized by recurrent seizures. Cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids have shown promise as anticonvulsants in some research, but additional study is required to determine their efficacy in various types of epilepsyn
  • Potentially, CBDV has the ability to aid in inflammation reduction as a result of inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • In diet-induced obese mice, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of SAC reduced weight gain and pro-inflammatory cytokines.

THCa’s power to function at lower dosages than THC makes it a more attractive cannabinoid. THCa becomes even more desirable because it is now freely available to anyone who wants to utilize it, thanks to cannabis plant legalization and the non-psychoactive nature of the chemical. THCa may be obtained from raw cannabis as well as certain nutrients that are important for your health.

How to Consume THCa

If you don’t want to get high from THC but still want THCa’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities, there are a variety of choices available to you. There are simply so many ways to consume THCa because it is so bioavailable in raw cannabis that

Understanding THC and THCA Potency Testing

To understand how your marijuana is labeled, it’s vital to understand the two most prevalent testing methods.

GC is used to separate out the various cannabinoids present in cannabis extracts. The liquid mixture is subjected to high temperatures that transform extracted cannabinoids into a gas, which is then filtered and examined for the presence of different cannabinoid levels.

Another problem with GC is that the heating process causes some, but not all, of the THCA (and CBDA) to decarboxylate. Decarboxylation is the conversion of naturally occurring cannabinoid acids (THCA and CBDA) into THC and CBD by removing carbon dioxide. This raises concerns about test results being underestimated.

NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy is a novel technique for separating CBD from cannabis plants that does not incur the decarboxylation loss. Chromatography, on the other hand, allows laboratories to analyze THC and THCA levels (as well as CBD and CBDA) without the loss of decarboxylation at room temperature.

A more in-depth study may be useful for medical marijuana patients, but it comes with its own set of issues that make it less appealing to recreational dispensaries. To begin, LC systems and solvents are more expensive than their GC cousins, and the higher testing fees aren’t feasible for some companies. Furthermore, test results from LC systems could be deceptive, potentially leading to a label being misunderstood and a marijuana user taking more than intended.

If a cannabis strain is advertised to have 22% THCA and 3% THC, how much active THC will you receive with each hit? How can you interpret THCA vs. THC? Clearly, 3 percent isn’t correct — that’s far too little. Perhaps 22 percent makes sense because THCA is what transforms into psychoactive THC when burned. Alternatively, perhaps you’re supposed to combine the two numbers — THCA and THC — to get a 25 percent strain. However, given that THCA isn’t completely converted to THC , there are still more mathematical hurdles before we figure out the strain’s potency.

When you know the percentages for both THC and THCA, the following THC formula may be used to compute total THC. According to a most recent research regarding testing methods in labs,

THCtotal = (%THCA) x 0.877 + (%THC)

So in our example:

THCtotal = 22% x 0.877 + 3%

According to a study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, one sample tested revealed THC levels of 22.3 percent, implying the entire batch contains approximately 22.3 percent THC. There we go! However, one might argue that the modest accuracy boost isn’t worth the extra effort and expense unless you’re a medical marijuana patient.

What’s the best way to take THCA?

Depending on your demands, you can either heat THCA or administer it without heating it.

Smoking THCA:

When THCA is heated, it transforms into a highly active form of THC. So, if you’re looking for something that will convert to that, you’d want to know how you’re supposed to smoke it. It may be dabbed or combined with flower from a joint or bowl to boost the strength. There’s no need for special equipment or technical know-how.

When we compared smoking THCA, “Woah” was the most often given response. It’s odorless and bland, yet when prompted to describe it, many people mentioned things like “Like cannabis.” We’d recommend you exercise caution until you’re comfortable with your tolerance since the dosage is rather strong.

Non-Heat Methods of Administering THCA:

There are a plethora of edibles on the market that include THCA in its raw form, including: If you don’t want to get high off THC and wish to use it for anti-inflammatory purposes, there are several edible goods accessible that are designed specifically for ingesting THCA in its raw form.

  • Juicing: Yes, your raw, fresh cannabis plant’s leaves can be juiced and combined to make a smoothie. This approach extracts the most THCA from the leaves. If you don’t have access to fresh cannabis fan leaves on a regular basis, make a large batch and freeze the juice for later use.
  • Tinctures or drops: The THC concentration in cannabis tinctures is extremely high. These tinctures are simple to dose and transport, in contrast to juicing.
  • Transdermal patches: The THC patches are most effective when applied in the evening, after your body has had a chance to metabolize them. They function similarly to nicotine patches; simply place them on any veinous (noticeable or prominent veins) region of skin, which is usually the inside of the wrist or top of the foot.
  • Pre-made edibles:There are several varieties of THCA edibles on the market. Doing your research, purchasing from a reputable manufacturer, and requiring test results for each product are all good ideas.

THCA and potency

Even though THC is derived from THCA, it’s still an essential cannabinoid to consider when assessing the potency of a cannabis strain, despite the fact that it isn’t intoxicating.

The most common approach to determine cannabis potency is by chromatography via combustion. In order for the THCA in the cannabis sample to decarboxylate and yield THC, it must be heated up sufficiently. Because potency is usually measured in terms of percentage THC, this method should theoretically be able to tell right away if something is powerful or not.

However, since the THCA molecules lose their carbonyl groups in large amounts as a result of heating and decarboxylation, the cannabis material will lose a significant amount of weight. This must be taken into account when calculating the total THC content of a raw cannabis strain.

THC total = (% THCA) x [final mass/initial mass] + (% THC)

To determine the total THC amount in a raw cannabis strain, you must first remove and detoxify all of the other cannabinoids from it. This method provides a pretty good estimate of the plant’s overall THC concentration. Because not all THCA is transformed into THC under typical smoking conditions, this is also known as the maximum THC. It’s difficult to say how much THC was actually ingested, but studies have shown that 30-70 percent of THCA in a strain may not be converted during smoking.

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