Cannabinoids occur naturally in the plant Cannabis sativa. Currently there are over 110 cannabinoids known. The commonly known among these compounds is the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), which is the main psychoactive ingredient. Scientists and other researchers are discovering more about the cannabis plant with every passing year. As they learn more about the plant, its components and their properties are becoming increasingly evident. THC is possibly the most popular cannabinoid. It is one of a handful of chemicals in the cannabis plant that has therapeutic effects in addition to the “high” often associated with ingesting all or part of it through one of many methods. There are 4 major types of THC present in the cannabis plant. They are THCA, THCV, Delta-8 THC, and Delta-9 THC. They all have somewhat different properties and medical benefits.
Firstly, what is THCA? THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid naturally found in the species Cannabis sativa. Simply, Cannabis doesn’t produce Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic or THC, but rather produces the acid form called THCA. THCA becomes THC following heating, as the acid form is de-carboxylated. At your local dispensary, you can find THCA isolates in the form of a powder or tincture on dispensary shelves that have been shown to have many health benefits. We will explore a few of these benefits in great detail in this article.
Another interesting cannabinoid is called Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). For all the chemists, the molecular structure is very similar to THC, with its two benzene rings and a hydrocarbon tail. But, THCV is much smaller in size due to its smaller hydrocarbon tail than THC. In science, THCV is an “analog” to THC but the main question still remain as to whether THCV has similar psychoactive properties as THC. If not, is it more like CBD?
As Delta-9 THC ages and is exposed to oxidation, it is converted to Delta-8 THC. This conversion process makes the resulting cannabinoid stable when exposed to air, which could increase its potential applications. Delta-8 THC is not as potent as its sister cannabinoid, but it does still produce a high. The euphoric feeling produced tends to be less intense than what might be experienced with Delta-9 THC, and you may experience a more clear-headed and energetic result. Utilizing CBD with Delta-8 THC will further decrease any mind-altering effects experienced by the user.
Benefits of THCA
THCA can work to reduce inflammation pain and is an ideal cannabinoid for treating symptoms for arthritis, seizures, for diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Here are 4 benefits of THCA below:
A 2013 study has shown that THCA has a protective property against an oxidative neurotoxin that is used to model Parkinson’s disease (a condition contributing to disordered movement). THCA and THC showed protective properties by preventing dopamine-producing neurons from dying off. In addition, there are many other studies that show THCA’s potential for treating neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s disease and epilepsy as well. The National Epilepsy Foundation has even stated that from laboratory tests and clinical studies cannabinoids that are non-psychoactive from cannabis could be helpful in controlling seizures.
THCA has been shown recently to have a big effect on the symptoms of Tourette syndrome. Not THC, not CBD, but THCA! Without any psychoactive effects it has been shown to diminish the tics and outbursts that are present in people with Tourette syndrome.
A 2013 mouse study showed THCA has antiemetic properties. THCA has been shown to reduce nausea behaviors in rats and vomiting in shrews. The authors of this paper concluded that this cannabis compound might be more effective than THC in controlling these conditions.
There have been some first-hand experiences from people that have been consuming raw weed in the form of a salad or fruit smoothies. They claimed that THCA from the unheated cannabis treated their chronic and severe digestive problems. Other ways that THCA can be consumed is either in the powder or diamond form that will be discussed in depth further in this article, but simply put, consuming the cannabis plant raw, can also do the trick. There are many benefits of consuming the plant raw as one cannabis user states: first, it does not get you high and thus you can drive to places, second it improves quality of life as you view the world differently and positively. More than 50% to 75% decrease in pain within 8 to 12 hours was experienced following THCA consumption. Another person claimed, cannabis helped him more than anything than what he’s ever been prescribed to treat his chronic and severe digestive problems.
One patient with advanced arthritis saw improvement and reduced pain just following using medical marijuana within a span of few hours. This patient had undergone 5 surgeries on both back and neck and even used prescribed medication such as Vicodin to reduce the pain, but it did not do the trick. This shows that cannabis can have many therapeutic benefits and pain relief. In 2017, THCA was found to be an effective anti-inflammatory. THCA was shown to inhibit two enzymes that have a role in contributing to pain, fever and swelling.
Benefits of THCV
Since scientists haven’t studied much about THCV as it is considered a “minor cannabinoid”, it is unknown whether this cannabinoid has psychoactive properties like THC. Minor cannabinoids such as THC-V are only present at low levels in cannabis and can be found only in a few strains such as the ones of African descent. When you look at the molecular structure, you might assume that it is psychedelic like THC, but until there are a few more scientific evidences, most of the assumption is constructed around anecdotal experiences.
Based on the medicinal effects that people claim they experienced with this cannabinoid, it might be behaving more like CBD than THC.
Weight Loss and its Potential Health Benefits
Many people who have tried THCV have stated they experienced health benefits. To name a few, THCV in its pure form, can act as an appetite suppressant, which is different from the usual THC effects. This might be useful information for those who want to lose weight. One study on mice has shown that THCV can affect appetite and results in weight loss. This cannabinoid inhibits a receptor called CB1 within the endocannabinoid system, acts as a neutral antagonist, and suppresses appetite.
Whether THCV consumption can be directly associated with weight loss is still of question. Since there is still very limited scientific evidence to back this, it is hard to conclude its direct association.
THCV has also been shown to control blood sugar levels, alleviate panic attacks, help patients with Alzheimer’s and stimulate bone growth. Research is still on going in this area. But as of now, anecdotal narratives and some recent scientific papers have shown the potential health benefits of THCV unlike THC.
Benefits of delta8-THC
Delta8-THC is considered a minor cannabinoid because there are very low levels found in the plant. In fact, it is rather negligible to the point where we can assume that the cannabis plant does not directly produce it. Delta8-THC is mostly found in old THC products due to the degradation of THC over time on the shelf.
In 1974, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam said delta8-THC is an enormously powerful immune system activator. Some therapeutic potential that delta8-THC can provide are as follows:
1) Pain and Anti-inflammatory Effects
3) Anti-nauseant effect
4) Appetite Stimulant
THC is one of the most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. It is one of a handful of chemicals in the cannabis plant that has therapeutic effects in addition to the “high” often associated with ingesting all or part of it through one of many methods. Whether cannabis is smoked, eaten, vaped, or juiced raw, understanding the plant’s properties and how they interact with our bodies is crucial in achieving the desired effects and avoiding adverse side effects. Cannabis molecules each have their own benefits and much more research is needed to understand the full scope of what they may offer.