What Is THCA and What Are the Benefits of This Cannabinoid

The fact that doctors and patients are reporting significant health-positive effects from THCA at very low concentrations underscores that there is much more to understand about THCA. The bottom line is: raw cannabis can have essential healing properties.
Jul 24, 2017
Cannabis 101

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA, is a naturally occurring acid-based cannabinoid found in raw and live cannabis plants, and it’s the pre-cursor to THC. As the plant dries, a heating process known as “decarboxylation” turns the THCA into THC. All THC-rich cannabis strains that have not yet undergone the decarboxylation process contains the cannabinoid THCA. In other words, to turn THCA into psychoactive THC, it must first be heated (for example, by baking edibles, vaping or smoking). When smoking cannabis, it is estimated that more than 95% of the THCA is converted to THC.  Levels of THCA are particularly high in living or freshly harvested plants.

According to several doctors, THCA shows great promise in the treatment of epilepsy. Preclinical research indicates that THCA may be anti-inflammatory and may reduce nausea. One of the most significant features of THCA is its apparent ability to work at very low doses.

Less is more

In a recent publication, Sulak, Goldstein, and Dr. Russel Saneto describe four case reports of patients using THCA along with other treatments (conventional antiepileptic drugs as well as cannabis). Among these patients, small doses—around 0.1-1 mg/kg/day THCA—were used, corresponding to 0.01 to 0.1% of the patient’s body weight in THCA. For a child weighing 22.5kg, this entails between 2-23 milligrams of THCA in a day.

By contrast, studies with Epidiolex, a pure (99.5 percent) CBD sublingual spray, start at a dose of 5 mg/kg/day and usually increase to 25 mg/kg/day. The aforementioned doses of THCA are 10-100 times lower. Sulak’s article indicates that higher doses of THCA did not generally improve the response. Dr. Goldstein further explained that daily consumption of 10-20 mg of THCA was effective in reducing pain in some of her patients with arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome. For one patient with Alzheimer’s disease, THCA improved cognitive symptoms and allowed the patient to reduce the use of other drugs.

Dr. Sulak also explained that a higher dose of 2 mg/kg of THCA combined with THC is sometimes effective for seizures, pain, and arthritis. For neurological issues, about 1 mg of THCA and THC used 2-3 times a day has helped some of his adult patients. In one teenager, a very low dose of THCA prevented severe refractory migraines.

Anecdotal reports from other sources indicate that a 10:1 CBD:THCA ratio can be effective for some epileptic children when a high CBD/low THC cannabis oil preparation does not deliver satisfactory results. One seven-year-old patient, weighing 19 Kg, has been seizure free for the past two-and-a-half years since he’s been on a dosage regimen of 50 mg/day of CBD and 10 mg/day of THCA.

TIP: The plant itself contains numerous vitamins and essential oils. In its raw form, the average person is able to handle much higher amounts of THCA, but before you grab a blender, keep in mind that removing your weed from your pipe and tossing it into your blender, is not a wise idea. Packaged and prepared cannabis is designed for smoking. Instead, use marijuana fresh to experience the THCA benefits.

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All information on this page is subject to MCDSA’s disclaimer.


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