By Cameron Hattan and Shannon Hattan, founders of Fiddler’s Greens
Almost everyone is familiar with THC, the cannabinoid that gets people ‘high’, and CBD, the cannabinoid that is in the news almost daily, but the cannabis plant is made up over 113 unique cannabinoids. This series will focus on some of the ‘other’ cannabinoids and what we know about them. This week, we will focus on THCA.
THCA is the non-psychoactive, acid-based precursor to THC found in raw cannabis. THCA converts to THC when it is decarboxylated (heated) or smoked. It has been shown to have very different properties from THC and to be effective at much smaller doses than THC.
The research is still in its infancy due to the fact that cannabis is still classified as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance by the Federal Government, meaning that it is considered a plant with ‘no known medical benefits’ in the US, and making research nearly impossible. But with the global decriminalization occurring, and countries like Israel and Canada leading the way, we can expect much more thorough and reliable data in the next few years. In the meantime, we have information from a handful of studies that have occurred in the last decade showing that there is a lot of promise in using THCA for a variety of ailments and with very little in the way of side effects.
Below is a summary of some of the conditions that THCA has been found to effective in treating:
- Anti-Emetic – A study in 2013 by The British Pharmacological Society found that THCA was more effective than THC in reducing vomiting and nausea.
- Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic – It is believed that THCA may be a COX-1 and COX-2 enzyme inhibitor (similar to NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin) which makes it effective in relieving pain and reducing inflammation as evidenced in a 2011 study. And, a 2017 study found that the anti-inflammatory properties of THCA were more effective at treating autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
- Anti-Proliferative – Preliminary studies are showing that THCA may be helpful in treating breast cancer as a COX-2 inhibitor and at treating prostate cancer through its actions on the TRPM8 receptor.
- Anti-spasmodic – Suppresses muscle spasms.
- Modulates Immune System – THCA has been shown to both improve and potentially suppress the immune system functions. It is believed that THCA boosts levels of the endogenous cannabinoid, 2AG which modulates several health functions. Additionally, it has been found to inhibit TNF-alpha levels. TNF-alpha dysfunction can contribute to Alzheimer’s, cancer, depression, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Neuroprotective – A 2012 study found that THCA may be effective in treating diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease by protecting the dopamine-producing neurons from death, which is what causes the disorders movement. THCA’s potential for treating Huntington’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders, was the subject of a December 2017 study.
As with any cannabis therapy, it is recommended that you consult with a medical professional with knowledge and experience recommending cannabis, and if you do intend to start a cannabis regime on your own, start low, and go slow!