WHAT IS DELTA-9-TETRAHYDROCANNABINOLIC ACID A (THCA-A, Δ9-THCA)?

Even if you don’t know much about cannabis, there is a high chance you might have heard about Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

THC also is known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is the compound in the cannabis plant that is responsible for its psychoactive effect. And the abundance of the compound depends on the strain of cannabis consumed.

Certain strains are bred and cultivated solely to get higher levels of THC, make the plant more potent. Here is an amusing thing, you won’t get high off just eating a raw cannabis plant, no matter how potent the plant is.

This is because there is no THC in a raw cannabis plant. So what is present in the raw cannabis plant? Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA) is present. Do not confuse the two of them because they are not the same. 

THCA is a cannabinoid that until recently has always been confused with THC. THCA-a was first identified by Professor Friedhelm Korte at the Univerity of Bonn in 1965. THCA-a is a non-psychoactive compound that is found in the fresh leaves and flower of the cannabis plant. 

This is the reason why eating raw cannabis leaves won’t get you high. 

The feelings of being stoned, or high, can be felt once the raw cannabis plant is dried and heated. This process is known as decarboxylation.

THCA is converted to THC once the plant is exposed to heat, THCA loses its acidic carbonyl to become THC. So when you smoke cannabis, the THCA converts to the psychoactive form THC. 

THCA is the non-psychoactive form of THC that is found in the cannabis plant. Many clinical studies have shown the potential of THCA in treating epilepsy, chronic pain, and many other ailments.

There is a reduced study because of the legalization issue facing the cannabis plant. 

HOW DOES Δ9-THCA WORK?

Due to the extra acid group of THCA, the molecule does not attach to CB1 cannabinoid receptors, as THC does.

This is why THCA doesn’t give a psychoactive effect. THCA, however, attaches to the TRPM8 receptor (the one that makes us experience a sensation of cold when we taste mint) and activates the TRPA1 receptor (which makes us feel the spiciness when we eat things like mustard or cinnamon).

The therapeutic effect of THCA may be caused by its blocking MAGL enzymes. This type of enzyme is responsible for breaking down the cannabinoids produced by the body, which binds to CB1- and CB2 receptors. Unfortunately, not a lot of research has been done, making it unclear how exactly THCA works.

POSSIBLE THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

The limited research done concerning THCA-A makes people believe that the compound offers various medicinal benefits as it is said to be commonly used as a nutritional supplement and dietary enhancement aid.

Here are some of the therapeutic benefits that THCA-A may end up providing:

Note that these are yet to be proven medically as trials have only been done on lab rats. More research and human trials need to be done to make these claims. 

INTERESTING FACTS

  • THCA converts to the psychoactive form THC through the decarboxylation process.

References

E M Rock, R L Kopstick, C L Limebeer, L A Parker. Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid reduces nausea-induced conditioned gaping in rats and vomiting in Suncus murinus. https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.12316

Non-THC cannabinoids inhibit prostate carcinoma growth in vitro and in vivo: pro-apoptotic effects and underlying mechanisms. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570006/

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is a potent PPARγ agonist with neuroprotective activity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28853159

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