THCA is a precursor of the most famous cannabinoid out there, THC. It is produced by CBGA (cannabigerolic acid) during the lifetime of the plant, by an enzyme called THCA-synthase. In fact, THCA is one of the three major cannabinoids produced by CBGA, with the other two being CBDA and CBG. In turn, THCA is converted into THC through a process called decarboxylation.
The mechanism is simple. During the lifetime of the plant, heat and oxygen will gradually remove carboxyl groups from THCA, slowly transforming it to THC. But the amounts of THC that are already formed on the plant when it is harvested are very low.
In order to transform the vast majority of THCA to THC, the plant needs to be fully decarboxylated. This happens through the application of heat; lighting up a joint, vaporizing cannabis, heating it in the oven, or activating it inside the lab.
An interesting thing that comes out of this relationship between THCA and THC is the way that maximum THC is calculated. THCA contains an extra carboxyl group, thus making it heavier than THC. In order to calculate total THC, this needs to be factored in. So, instead of just adding THCA and THC content, the proper way to do it is:
Total THC = (%THCA) x 0.877 + (%THC)
Potential benefits of THCA
It is important to remember that THCA has only had a limited amount of research so far. While research is still in its beginning stages, there is evidence that THCA has been beneficial in alleviating certain symptoms and has the following properties:
Inhibits tumor growth in prostate cancer
Anti-emetic for nausea treatment
Effective pain management
There is still so much to learn about cannabis and all of its components that make it valuable. We are excited to see what research has in store for us and for the world to become aware of the benefits of all cannabinoids