THCA vs THCV: What’s The Difference?
It is known that humans have been using cannabis medicinally for at least 5,000 years. It has been used for its therapeutic properties to alleviate pain, stimulate appetite, and promote muscle relaxation since then. In the United States alone, there is an estimated 3.6 million state-legal medical cannabis patients.
Due to this, it is no secret that many cannabinoids are emerging in the market today. You heard about the famous THC, how about THCA and THCV? We’re about to tell you everything there is to know about THCA and THCV.
What are Cannabinoids?
Before we dig into the differences between THCA, and THCV, let's ask a simpler question: what are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are the naturally occurring chemical compounds found within the cannabis or hemp plants. It is first identified by Israeli scientists in the 1960s, and there are more than 110 cannabinoids have been discovered to date.
Cannabinoids are the compounds which are known for the various medicinal applications of cannabis and hemp-derived products, which have been extensively studied for the treatment of inflammation, nausea, epileptic seizures, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, chronic pain, cancer, and much more.
How Does The Body Use Cannabinoids?
To understand how the body interact with cannabinoids, we first need to understand a key internal system: the endocannabinoid system. This complex, built-in mechanism allows us to respond to cannabinoids using a network of receptors scattered throughout the body. Found in almost every major organ system, from the brain and spinal cord to the gastrointestinal tract. These cannabinoid receptors help the body regulate its health and achieve homeostasis.
The endocannabinoid system contains two major types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are predominantly linked to the brain and nervous system, while CB2 receptors primarily influence the immune system. Along with enzymes, these receptors aid in the cleanup after the endocannabinoid system processes take place, which help our bodies maintain a stable internal environment.
When activated by exposure to cannabinoids, the receptors of the endocannabinoid system become reactive. They are able to affect key body processes, ranging from mood and memory to appetite and pain. The specific effects of cannabis-derived products depend on two factors: the cannabinoid or blend of cannabinoids being used, and where you find the receptors that bind with those compounds.
What is THCA?
THCA is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, a cannabinoid that’s closely related to THC. Technically, THCA is the precursor to THC. In the raw cannabis plant, THCA is produced before any THC is present. THCA is transformed into THC through a process called decarboxylation. The process occurs when THCA is exposed to heat, sunlight, or a curing process over a prolonged period of time. This process removes carboxylic acid (hence the “A” in THCA), leaving only THC behind.
Psychoactive effects are the key difference between the cannabinoids THC and THCA. THCA is non-intoxicating because its molecular structure doesn’t allow it to interact with the CB1 receptors that cause the high from THC. Because THCA molecules don’t fit with the CB1 receptors, they don’t trigger the same type of activity within the endocannabinoid system.
Are there health benefits of THCA?
THC has been extensively studied over the years, unlike THCA. This may be the reason why THCA is not so well-known, but this cannabinoid offers benefits to the body. As mentioned, THCA doesn't appear to interact with CB1 receptors the same as THC does because it is not intoxicating.
THCA is found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and neuroprotective properties. Another interesting fact about THCA is it seems to work better when used in conjunction with other cannabinoids terpenes; a phenomenon often referred to as the entourage effect. As interest grows about how non-intoxicating cannabinoids could prove valuable to general wellness and for disease treatment, there will no surprise that THCA would get even more attention.
For patients seeking relief from a variety of conditions without the psychoactive effects of THC, THCA may provide a valuable alternative. As a nutritional supplement, THCA may benefit users who suffer from inflammatory conditions like arthritis and lupus, neurodegenerative diseases, inflammatory bowel diseases, nausea and appetite loss, some forms of cancer, and more.
What is THCV, and what are the benefits of this cannabinoid?
THCV, short for tetrahydrocannabivarin is a compound in cannabis that offers a unique array of effects and medical benefits that sets it apart from other cannabinoids like THC and CBD. THCV is known as the weight loss cannabinoid, which attracts consumers aiming to maintain or lose weight.
Albeit less popular than other cannabinoids, THCV offers psychoactive effects depending on the dosage and the strain. In low doses, it doesn’t give off the “high” feeling, but it does take effect on significantly high doses. THCV is mostly found in low concentrations and not yet available in isolated concentrates on its own. However, many strains that have higher THCV concentrations may also have high THC content, hence offering psychoactive effects as well.
Learn more about THCV here.
THCA vs THCV: What’s the Difference?
THCA and THCV both have relationships to THC. For a review, THCA is a precursor of THC which means that a process called decarboxylation uses heat and removes a carboxylic acid group from THCA, altering the THC chemical structure.
THCV is also closely similar to THCV in terms of structure, but it's actually derived from an entirely different precursor or source. While most cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, are the by-products of CBGA (cannabigerolic acid) synthesis, THCV is the final by-product of CBGVA (cannabigerovarin acid). CBGV converts to THCVA, which becomes THCV when exposed to heat or light.
Overall, both cannabinoids THCA and THCV are non-intoxicating and equally offer amazing health benefits for cannabis connoisseurs to enjoy. One is different from the other in terms of how they are formed, and the wide array of potential effects offered.