What is the
Difference Between THC and THCA?
If they were rungs on a ladder, you’d have to step on THCA before you got to THC. One comes from (or before) the other. THCA is the precursor to THC (Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC) and it is in the hemp plant in its raw state.
You can eat hemp straight from the garden and never get high. There is no THC in hemp as it comes straight from the earth, rather it is THCA and this is not a psychoactive compound. The basic reason for this is that THCA is a molecule that is too large to combine with the cannabinoid receptors in the human body.
Think of it like this – the receptor is the engine that creates the effect. The compound is the key that starts the engine. THCA is the wrong key. It doesn’t fit, and it won’t unlock the potential of the cannabinoid receptors in the body. It has no effect at all.
“If they were rungs on a ladder, you’d have to step on THCA before you got to THC.”
Cannabis plants have hundreds of different compounds and at least 112 cannabinoid compounds that we are aware of. However, as research progresses, this may very well change. Cannabinoids are identified by their molecular shape and basic structure. Obviously, as with THCA and THC, there are some differences that matter. Only a small handful of the compounds in cannabis have a psychoactive effect, with the most well-known being THC.
BUT HOW DOES THCA BECOME THC?
When cannabis is heated, a chemical process happens called decarboxylation. This happens when cannabis is burned (smoked) or heated in another way. The heat removes the carboxylic acid atoms. This makes the entire molecular structure smaller and able to fit into the receptors of the endocannabinoid system.
At this point, the receptors in the brain are willingly bonding with the new molecule, known as THC. THC likes to bond with CB1 receptors, which are primarily located within the brain, thus the psychoactive effect.
THCA has benefits of it’s own: A Superfood
THCA is a superfood. When eaten raw, in smoothies and as a dietary supplement, it has the ability to ease arthritis pain, relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions. THCA has other benefits as well, such as:
Diabetes regulation assistance
Appetite regulation – helps increase appetite and reduce nausea
THCA stands alone as a fantastic cannabinoid supplement for humans or even pets (because they have an endocannabinoid system as well). Thanks to science and ongoing cannabis research, we are learning of many potential benefits and uses for cannabinoids other than the two we are so accustomed to hearing about – CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
As we learn, we also find that some of the compounds work best when combined with others. This is leading cultivators, growers, and manufacturers to grow or make formulations of their own oils and supplements that have higher concentrations of certain cannabinoids that are beneficial for specific health conditions, and less of others, so that there is little to no psychoactive response within the body. New cannabis research is making medicinal cannabis a viable alternative for more people than ever before.
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