What Is THCA?
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (C22H30O4) or THCA, is the prodrug of the famed delta-9-THC molecule in cannabis. As you’ll recall from a previous post, it descends directly from CBGA. Once heated excessively, a carboxyl group leaves the molecule and THC is born.
If you’re buying cannabis flower, its potency is generally measured through a batch scan of THCA – it makes up to 90% of total THC content in the raw plant. And while it decays quickly, researchers have good reason to preserve it as it stands, and more than just for the THCA powder that exists in various cannabis dispensary markets. So let’s take a look at what is being discovered about THCA, how it may work within the body, and what future applications it may hold as a potential star player in the plant.
Will it get you high?
No. However, since THC is a highly unstable molecule, there will be remnants of the molecule that convert to THC, so it could show up on a drug test.
Neuroprotectant/anti-inflammatory: Two preliminary studies with Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease in rat cell lines found reduction of inflammation, astrogliosis and microgliosis (Huntington’s) and increase in cell count (Parkinson’s)
Liver/Anti-inflammatory: A recent study showed reduction in markers of inflammation for liver fibrosis, again in an animal model.
Endocannabinoid tone: Your endocannabinoid system needs to be in balance with itself; otherwise, whatever is regulated by it — sleep, mood and appetite amongst them — will suffer. In one study, THCA has shown the ability to inhibit enzymes that would otherwise remove endocannabinoids from the system, thereby enhancing what is called endocannabinoid tone..
CBDA: The Precursor
WHAT IS CBDA?
What THCA is to cannabis, CBDA(C22H30O4) is to hemp. Yet even less is known, and fewer studies have been done on it, than THCA itself. Because of its acidic component, it has even less to do with the endocannabinoid system as we know it. Similar to THCA, it is also highly unstable, which further complicates its study. Still, once researchers have run CBD through its paces, they may have a few other unique uses to explore with its elder relative.
Can it get you high?
No. Because of its acidic component, it’s even less able to interact with the brain and body’s cannabinoid receptors.
Cannabinoid tone: Similar to THCA, CBDA also inhibited ECS disposal enzymes, meaning it could have a role in strengthening ECS tone as well.
Antiemetic: In combination with THC, CBDA proved to be a strong antiemetic in animal models, again showing the presence of a powerful entourage effect.
Anti-anxiety: According to one study, CBDA shows a greater affinity for the 5HT1A receptor than even CBD, suggesting a role for the molecule as a future anxiety treatment.
Antiinflammatory/anticancer: Particularly exciting is the potential for inhibition of breast cell cancer migration and suppression of an enzyme connected to inflammation within a particularly aggressive breast cancer cell line.