The substance activates a specific cellular receptor, resulting in a lower response to pain stimuli.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid(THCA) is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. The health benefits of THCA are better absorbed by the body through a raw consumption method, such as cannabis juice. THCA works to relieve inflammation and pain and is an ideal cannabinoid for treating the symptoms of conditions such as arthritis and seizures.
Most people know that THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis, but what about THCA? Unlike THC, THCA has no intoxicating effects, but it does have some potential medicinal benefits. In fact, some people even consider fresh, raw, unheated cannabis to be a superfood because of its THCA content. Theisen says that her patients have successfully experienced inflammation and pain relief, especially inflammatory pain in large joints, such as the hips, knees and shoulders, through the use of THCA. However, cannabis users are more likely to be medicated with THCA, since it has the same therapeutic benefits as THC without the psychoactive effect.
For THCA to be converted to THC, it must go through an aging process or through a heating process called decarboxylation. Theisen says that the main risks of THCA are related to the conversion to THC, especially if the consumer is not seeking (or expecting) to get high. In addition, side effects are much more likely to occur when cannabis is consumed when heated, so THCA is converted to THC, rather than being consumed raw in a juice or milkshake, for example. THCA is THC that hasn't been heated or processed, says Eloise Theisen, MSN, RN, deputy director of the Medicinal Cannabis Certification Program at the Pacific School of Health and Sciences.
Since human studies on THCA are lacking, it is difficult to understand the short- or long-term risks of the cannabinoid. More research is needed to fully understand how much THCA is actually consumed when cannabis is heated, as well as whether this amount is effective enough to produce the expected benefits. All high-THC strains that have not yet been decarboxylated contain THCa, and these levels of cannabinoids are particularly high when it comes to live or freshly harvested plants. However, once THCA is heated, the molecules are converted to THC, which has smaller molecules and adapts to our cannabinoid receptors.
THCA is an effective neuroprotector, making it beneficial in treating conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.