THCA: The Customized High
Products such as “THCA diamonds” and “THCA powder” are essentially ultra-pure (usually upwards of 90%+) concentrations of THCA. Cannabis plants carry a wide variety of terpenes and other cannabinoids that, in their unique combinations, give different strains of weed different sensations and effects.
Pure THCA contains none of that, and is essentially a concentrated amount of THC-in-waiting. When a THCA crystal is smoked (most likely dabbed or vaporized) the resulting inhale is going to be almost pure, 100% THC.
While this may sound great in theory, many who have tried smoking nothing but THCA concentrates on their own report them somewhat lacking, providing a strong but somewhat “featureless” high. To alleviate this, many companies who produce THCA concentrates also sell accompanying jars of terpenes and other cannabinoids (referred to as “sauce”).
This separation of THCA from sauce enables the end smoker to create a custom-tailored smoking experience, allowing them to play with the ratio of THCA-to-terpenes and even mix and match as they see fit. For someone interested in the ultimate weed smoking experience, custom designed THCA+sauce mixtures may be the pinnacle of the art.
But does THCA have to be smoked? Well, outside of decarbing it in an oven at home and adding it to an edible, if you want it to get you high? Yes. Until the carboxylic acid chain is removed from THCA it will not get you blazed. End of story. But if you’re not interested in getting high, and instead you’re looking to THCA as a potential (and potentially potent) medical aid, then THCA doesn’t have to be smoked at all.
The Medical Use of THCA
Again, THCA is found naturally in the raw, unheated cannabis plant, so if you’re looking to take THCA as a medical treatment… well, you can chew down on a fresh bud of marijuana if you’d like but we recommend investing in a batch of toothpicks and breath mints first.
Instead, other products such as the aforementioned powder or even THCA tinctures and THCA oil can be used for oral dosing. But be aware: THCA can be broken down into THC in the digestive system, essentially providing the same potential for getting someone high as if they’d eaten a cannabis edible.
To mitigate this, it’s often recommended to take THCA either by holding it in the mouth (against the gum line or under the tongue), or as a suppository; while the amount of THCA converted over to THC when ingested is likely negligible, for some any chance is too much, leaving non-oral administration as the only 100% safe route.
THCA’s Promising Medical Effects
So why take THCA if it’s non-psychoactive? Though studies and scientific research into THCA’s effects and direct mechanisms are still somewhat slim, early reports show many of the same therapeutic benefits as CBD and regular THC. Studies have shown THCA to have great anti-inflammatory properties (potentially even higher than CBD), as well as having promise as a remedy for nausea and appetite loss.
Equally as important, THCA has been shown to have strong neuroprotective properties, offering potential benefits in treating a wide variety of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases by aiding against memory loss, seizures, and other common symptoms. THCA even works in inhibiting the growth rate of cancer cells, showing significant promise as a treatment in studies of prostate cancer.