THC is ONLY psychoactive once it has been converted from THCa.
CBD: the only non-psychoactive ‘MIRACLE’ cannabinoid that has all of the healing and none of the high, but is it really the ONLY non-psychoactive cannabinoid?
To put it simply, no.
CBGa, THCa and CBDa are all produced in the trichome of the plant, and have to be heated/decarboxylated after-the-fact to create CBG, THC and CBD from their acid forms.
THC is ONLY psychoactive once it has been converted from THCa.
In fact, all of the Cannabinoids produced by Cannabis are in their acid forms when formed inside the trichomes of the plant. Fresh and freshly dried plant materials are not psychoactive in any way, as none of the cannabinoids have been converted into their active forms.
This plant has been used for many thousands of years, and I would not hesitate to say the majority of its use, especially in ancient times, was not smoked. It was made into oils, balms, salves and potions to use topically and consume, and one would assume there was heat involved in these preparations, so the acid forms of these Cannabinoids would have been at least partial converted to their active states. However, any consumption of the flowers of this plant when fresh would have produced little (if any) psychoactive effects, but would have provided all of the healing properties of the acid forms of these Cannabinoids.
The myriad of ways this plant has been used in the past by almost every civilization on earth testifies to the pervasive and important role this plant has played in the evolution of mankind. There is still so much about this plant that still eludes us, and the significance of the acid forms and how they affect our body chemistry is just emerging. Further to this, there is some early evidence that certain Cannabinoids in their acid forms may help supplement our Endocannabinoid System and trigger the manufacturing of Endocannabinoids in larger amounts, with these “building-block” Cannabinoid Acids acting as supplements to bolster our Endocannabinoid production.
Ok, so back to THCa.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into the science of this Cannabinoid.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is often misunderstood because of the fragile nature of this important Cannabinoid.
THCa is converted in the Trichome from Cannabigerolic acid to Tetrahydracannabinolic acid through a process of enzymatic action as the plant matures. Later, as the plant ages, is harvested and dried, exposure to oxygen, heat, and light, cause the THCa to break down/convert to Tetrahydracannabinol. Depending on methods of preservation, it’s possible to keep THCa fairly stable for a long time, as long as exposure to oxygen, heat and light are critically controlled.
This same process applies to CBGa, as well as CBDa — but neither of these Cannabinoids are psychoactive in either of their forms.
THCa weighs less than THC, so when calculating yields of total THC by weight, the conversion formula is THCa multiplied by 8.77, and then added to the percentage of THC (already converted) currently in the plant. It is worth noting that, at this point in the evolution of the Cannabis revolution, there are very few reputable testing labs in the US and the rest of the world. Among the best out there in the US, to name a few, are The Workshop, Steep Hill/Halent Labs, and SC Labs. These laboratories have been in operation the longest, and are operated by some of the smartest PhD’s in the Cannabis arena.
The reason that I bring them up is twofold.
- I think if you have the opportunity to test your Cannabis/products — DO SO! This is the ONLY way you’ll know for SURE what you have.
- They are the BEST sources for real, scientific information about this plant, and with all of the pseudo-science and wives tales being spouted by “experts” in this field — EVERYONE needs access to the TRUTH.
I’ve included a graphic presented by Steep Hill Labs on Cannabinoids to illustrate the unique and specific relationship between the acid forms of the Cannabinoids in this plant, and how the active forms are created.
We are still learning about the medicinal benefits of THCa, so the list that I covered below is just a beginning, at best, as this info is still emerging as we do pre-clinical/ad-hoc trials with patients, to qualify it for actual clinical trials.
Hopefully, with all of the attention being given to Cannabis and all of the medical benefits, we will begin to be able to implement more patient trials to demonstrate other benefits that are to be gained by these other, less-understood Cannabinoids.
THCA has anti-inflammatory, neuro-protective, anti-emetic, and anti-proliferative properties that will help immeasurably in treating pain, cramping related to PMS, muscle spasms, and a myriad of auto-immune disorders that have recently been on the rise. The neuro-protective qualities of THCa are proving to be nothing less than miraculous. THCA can be used to treat patients with neurodegenerative disorders like those with dementia and Parkinson’s Disease, and best of all — PREVENT these ailments from manifesting themselves at all.
My mother, before she died, suffered from severe dementia. She was constantly disoriented, and this made her mad, and MEAN. It wasn’t her fault, she just didn’t understand what was happening to her, and she was angry about it. We’ve seen this same behavior in Dravet’s and Epilepsy patients. They don’t understand what is happening to them, and they lash out, often trying to hurt themselves or others — all in the desperate attempt to understand why.
In my mother’s case, we put her on CBD first, and then moved to a 1:1 THC/CBD blend for the last years of her life, and it helped her immeasurably, both allowing her to ENJOY her life again, but also returning some lucidity and focus to her — a real blessing.
I just wish we knew then what we know now about THCa, as it could have helped her even more.
THCa’s anti-emetic properties can be used to help people with stomach conditions (Crohn’s, Lupus) from nausea to lack of appetite. THCa also has anti-proliferative properties that help slow the rate of a range of different cancers and diseases.
The anti-inflammatory effects, as well as appetite stimulation, all without any psychoactive effects also makes this an incredibly important and valuable Cannabinoid. Specifically, the stimulation of appetite for Cancer patients without any of the negative effects of being stoned is VERY appealing. Also, the anti-inflammatory nature of this Cannabinoid can be of tremendous benefit to patients suffering from arthritis and other degenerative diseases, in addition to just using it at a maintenance dose as a wellness therapy.
Now, all of this discussion of ‘science’ can appear to be very dry and obtuse when looking at this in the abstract.
However, to give all of this some context in today’s marketplace, what is commonly known as “shatter” is almost exclusively THCa in its raw form.
In order for Cannabis Oil to crystalize/solidify, it has to be primarily THCa in content. The reason is that THC is a liquid and very hard to crystalize.
THCa, however, is very easily dried in a low-temperature environment (usually in a vacuum oven at low/no temperature to purge any residual solvents) using thin-film evaporation, and will become hard and brittle, and will stay that way as long as it isn’t exposed to heat, light and oxygen (which is why it is normally refrigerated/kept in light-proof packaging).
So, I’ve just given you the keys to utilizing THCa today for your medicine. You’re welcome.
The other way, of course, is to grow a high-THC content strain, and process it without heat.
There are several simple ways of doing this, including juicing the plant, but juicing isn’t a method I would recommend. The reason is that this oil is VERY sticky, and housed in the trichomes on the OUTSIDE of the plant. Because of this, when run through a juicer, most of the MEDICINE gums-up and sticks to the inside of your juicer, and very little is transferred to the juice. A way to combat this is to add fats or emulsifiers (milk, cream, butter) to ‘carry’ the oil into the body. The problems that arise by doing this is that the blending/juicing action generates heat, melts the butter and fats so that they blend better with the oil, but also will begin converting the THCa to THC.
The other biggest problem with juicing is that this plant contains chlorophyll in VERY high amounts, which can cause gastrointestinal issues, as well as the cilia on the outside of the plant to discourage insects and predators are very disruptive and irritating to the stomach lining — the LAST thing we need is medicine that introduces MORE problems. Really, the BEST method is really simply to quickly ‘rinse’ the fresh (undried) buds and leaves in frozen ethanol (to reduce the uptake of chlorophyll in your oil), and then evaporate in a cool dark place — THCa! The hard part, since it is a solid/crystalline format, is blending with carrier oils (Coconut/MCT, Olive or Hemp oil).
The best way to achieve this is time and patience, and steady agitation.
You can obtain lab shakers/stirrers very inexpensively online these days, and this will make your job MUCH easier. Otherwise, you can always just put the raw THCa with any carrier oils you are blending in into a jar with a lid, close the lid, and SHAKE…and SHAKE…and SHAKE, and so on.
It will take time and patience to dissolve into the oil, but it will.
The medicinal benefits of Tetrahydracannabinolic Acid are still unfolding, but from just the initial, preliminary results we are confident that this may prove to be one of the most exciting, beneficial and OVERLOOKED Cannabinoids of all time.
Originally published in Weed World Magazine Issue 132