Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA): The Raw Cannabinoid For Pain

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA): The Raw Cannabinoid For Pain

Have you ever wondered why you have to smoke or heat cannabis to experience psychoactive effects? Most cannabis consumers are already aware that the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in the plant is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

However, THC is not found in fresh cannabis. Fresh cannabis refers to raw cannabis that has not been dried, cured, or heated. If THC is present, it is only in very small amounts. Instead, the cannabinoid exists tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). But, what is THCA? And what’s the value in consuming raw cannabis, anyway?

What is Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA)?

THCA is a non-psychoactive precursor to THC. Unlike THC, THCA will not cause a euphoric “high”. Rather, THCA can ease pain, soothe an upset stomach, and is safe to use by pretty much anyone. If you make a juice out of raw cannabis leaves and buds, you’ve successfully made hemp juice.

Age and heat break down THCA into THC. This happens through a process called decarboxylation. During decarboxylation, the THCA molecule is transformed. It loses what is called a carboxyl group, which gives the cannabinoid its acid structure. Some of this acid is also lost when fresh cannabis is cut, dried, and cured.

Are there health benefits to THCA?

Between the two compounds, THC is often referred to as the most “active”. However, THCA has some serious nutritional and therapeutic potential on its own. In fact, many medical cannabis patients incorporate raw cannabis into their overall treatment plan. While most cannabis research focuses on the cannabinoid’s psychoactive offspring, here are five potential health benefits of THCA:

1. Nausea and vomiting

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Rodent research published by the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests that THCA can reduce nausea and vomiting. In the study, gave THCA to rodents who showed nausea behaviors as well as to shrews who were given a substance to induce vomiting.

Some test subjects were also treated with a low dose of THC by comparison. THCA successfully eased vomiting and reduce gapping, which is how rats show signs of nausea. The raw THCA was more successful than the low-dose THC. The rodents did not show signs of cannabis intoxication.

2. Anti-inflammatory

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Many of the best medicines come from plants. One of the most common over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, was actually derived from white willow bark. Interestingly enough, the cannabis plant seems to work in a very similar way.

A 2011 study found that THCA blocks two particular enzymes from manufacturing pro-inflammatory compounds. Those enzymes are COX-1 and COX-2. Both of these enzymes are also targets of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), like aspirin.

3. Antioxidant

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As it turns out, brain health may be another great reason to include some raw cannabis into your daily diet. In a 2012 study, THCA treatment successfully reduced disease progression in experimental models of Parkinson’s Disease.

The research was performed in rodent cultures and scientists treated cells with a positively charged compound that weakens the ability to respond to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when the body cannot successfully subdue or repair the damage from free radicals.

In this experiment, THCA successfully reduced damage to neurons. In Parkinson’s disease, brain cells that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine begin to die. As a potent antioxidant, THCA neutralizes the damage from positively charged neurotoxins.

4. Analgesic

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Green juice and smoothies are extremely popular among those seeking a natural remedy for arthritis. Green juices contain a wealth of micronutrients, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory terpenes and vitamins.

In a way, you can think of THCA as the raw cannabinoid for pain. Early evidence suggests that raw cannabis may be a helpful analgesic. While the effects of cannabis juice might not be as noticeable as the psychoactive stuff, there may be some benefit to supplementing with raw THCA.

A 2008 cell line study found that both THC and THCA engaged a cell receptor that is currently a target for pain research. The receptor is TRPA1 and it is suspected to play a role in inflammatory, neuropathic, and migraine pain. This is yet more evidence that raw cannabis is good for you.

5. Anti-cancer

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Cancer patients tend to need all of the nutrients they can get. Now, preclinical investigations suggest that raw cannabis may have some anti-cancer potential. The research was published in 2013 and suggests that THCA may have some anti-proliferative effects.

The research was conducted in laboratory models of prostate cancer. THCA was not the strongest anti-cancer compound. Rather, cannabidiol (CBD) showed the most significant effects. Still, this small study provides cause for further investigation into the preventative uses for raw cannabis.

How do you consume THCA?

THCA is a dietary supplement. Unlike other cannabis products, this compound does not provide any sort of psychoactive high. Instead, it can soothe a nauseous stomach and eases pain through nutrition. For those hoping to add a little THCA into their diet, here are three ways to get your daily dose of THCA:

1. Juicing and smoothies

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Popularized by Dr. William Courtney, raw cannabis juices and smoothies are an excellent addition to a daily diet. Cannabis juices can be made out of leftover fan leaves, yet the beverage will be more potent if made from raw cannabis bud. Opting for a blender over a juicer might prevent some of the potency from being lost in the pulp.

2. Raw cannabis oil

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Some cannabis extractors use special technology to manufacture raw cannabis oils. These raw oils are typically sold in an oral syringe or capsules. These oils can be consumed as is, like a dietary supplement, or can be heated to activate the cannabinoids.

One of the major benefits of going raw is that you can take a very high dose of THCA without any psychoactive effects. With psychoactive cannabis, your dose is limited by your ability to tolerate the THC “high.”

3. Culinary applications

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To get the most THCA, raw cannabis should be kept fresh. Leaves can be stored in the refrigerator just like any other leafy green herb. Fan leaves and snips of fresh bud can be thrown into a food processor for herbal salad dressings. Clippings can also be eaten like salad itself.

Though heat may break down some THCA, lightly steaming raw cannabis fan leaves or bud is unlikely to fully activate the bud. To get a significant psychoactive experience from edible cannabis, the cannabis not only needs to be heated but cooked with some fat.

New Study Says Cannabis Doesn’t Give You A Sweet Tooth

New Study Says Cannabis Doesn’t Give You A Sweet Tooth

A bad case of the munchies is one of the most common and loveable cannabis side effects. Yet, while many may joke about their trips to Taco Bell or have the pizza delivery guy on speed dial, a new study suggests that cannabis food cravings might work a little differently than commonly thought.

It has long been taken for granted that cannabis increases cravings for hyper-palatable foods, like fatty pizzas and sweet cupcakes. However, a study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research calls bluff on this assumption.

While the plant may still make you want to chow down, this new study suggests that cannabis doesn’t give you a sweet tooth. In fact, the researchers found that low doses of the herb don’t contribute much to food preference at all.

Weight watchers around the world can rest assured that their favorite green herb won’t have them sneaking a few extra tidbits from the cookie jar.

Does cannabis give you food cravings?

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Dutch researchers have just discovered that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive in the cannabis plant, does not cause you to crave sugar.

The fact that cannabis can increase appetite is well-known to the research community and most cannabis consumers alike. THC is thought to be the primary culprit behind the munchies. Once inside your body, the cannabinoid stimulates the secretion of a hunger hormone called ghrelin.

Ghrelin kick starts the digestive process, encouraging you to seek out food. Research has also shown that cannabis stimulates the olfactory bulb, which is a fancy term for sense of smell.

In fact, a 2014 study published in Nature Neuroscience found that cannabis triggers food-seeking behavior by enhancing your ability to smell and search for food.

Study finds cannabis will not give you a sweet tooth

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Yet, this recent experiment suggests that low doses of THC do not have an impact on sugar cravings, preference, or liking.

The experiment was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, and randomized human trial. The trial included 10 adult male participants. The participants were asked to inhale low doses of a THC strain, CBD strain, and a cannabis placebo.

After inhaling, participants sampled a chocolate milk-like drinks with various degrees of sweetness. Participants tried the materials and were then given two weeks off prior to testing out another one.

The end results suggested that neither low doses of THC nor CBD caused participants to crave sugar more than non-consumers. Rather, the study participants preferred tastes that were a little more savory. Even when given unlimited access to their favorite chocolate milk, cannabis did not seem to affect a consumer’s preference or level of consumption.

While this study is a bit of a departure from public perception, this new research did find that those who consumed THC were less likely to feel full after sampling chocolate milk. Participants were more likely to desire food in general with THC.

Cannabis consumers eat on average about 600 calories more per day than non-consumers. However, this research shows that these calories may not only come from sweet and palatable junk food. Rather, low doses of THC seem to increase hunger all around without drawing consumers to a specific type of food.

Of course, what you eat while under the influence of cannabis depends largely on personal taste.

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