Earlier this month, Virginia passed a bill that allows patients to use CBD or THCA oil with less than 5 percent THC. The bill, known as Let Doctors Decide, makes any diagnosed illness a qualifying condition for medical cannabis, as long as patients have a recommendation from a doctor. But what is THCA and why is it allowed along with CBD?
What is THCA?
THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning it won’t get you high. It’s found in abundance in raw cannabis because once the herb is dried, cured, and heated (like when you’re smoking, vaping, or baking) THCA converts into psychoactive THC.
This cannabinoid is also found in raw cannabis fan leaves. Many people are consuming the cannabinoid for its medicinal benefits without the high – similar to why people are using CBD oil. A popular form of consumption is making smoothies with raw cannabis leaves.
What are the Medicinal Benefits?
More studies are desperately needed on the medicinal benefits of this amazing cannabinoid, but preliminary studies and anecdotal evidence have shown that it can help many of the same symptoms as CBD and other cannabinoids. That’s because it supplements the endocannabinoid system (ECS), the largest regulatory system in our bodies.
THCA’s medicinal benefits include:
- Neuroprotective against neurodegenerative disorders
- Anti-proliferation of cancer cells
According to a 2017 study, THCA along with CBD and THC helped patients with epilepsy 86 percent of the time. One of the authors of that study, Dr. Bonni Goldstein, told Project CBDthat 10 to 20 mg of THCA helped her patients with pain management for arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Another author of that 2017 study, Dr. Dustin Sulak, also spoke with Project CBD and said a very low dose of the cannabinoid helped one of his teenage patients with severe refractory migraines. He’s also had success with treating patients who have seizures, pain, and arthritis with a combination of THCA and THC.
A 2013 study found low doses of this cannabinoid to reduce nausea and vomiting in rats. Not to mention, a different 2013 study found the cannabinoid to prevent cancer growth in those with prostate cancer.
Clearly, more research needs to be done to fully understand how and why this cannabinoid has so many medicinal benefits. But, for now, this limited research and anecdotal evidence have been enough for Virginia to allow its medical cannabis patients to use it.
THCA vs CBD: Which is Better?
Both THCA and CBD have incredible medical potential. But some doctors, like Dr. William Courtney, believe THCA to be more beneficial than CBD or THC. Dr. Courtney has been a huge proponent of the cannabinoid and eating raw cannabis leaves for the last decade. According to him and CBDScience.com, THCA actually has a greater effect on the endocannabinoid system than CBD or THC, especially when it comes to inflammation, physical pain, and neuropathic pain.
Although the first cannabinoid that comes to mind when thinking of treating medical issues with cannabis without a psychoactive effect is CBD, it looks like THCA should be considered as well. Again, more research is needed on its effects and benefits.
How to Use THCA
If you grow your own cannabis, the easiest way to use THCA is by eating the raw cannabis fan leaves. Popular ways to prepare cannabis leaves are in smoothies and salads, but the possibilities are endless.
It’s important to note that plants with high levels of THC will also have high levels of THCA, both in the leaves and in the uncured buds. In fact, about 95 percent of THCA is converted into THC after curing and smoking, so the fresher the bud the better.
If you don’t have access to cannabis plants, no need to worry. Products like oils, pills, and even transdermal patches, are becoming more and more popular as cannabis legalization gains acceptance.
Check out these brands for some great and trustworthy products:
This cannabinoid has all the medicinal benefits of cannabis without the high. Give it a try or recommend it to your friends and family who are curious about cannabis, but not a fan of intoxication.