THCA isolate is the latest craze among cannabis concentrate aficionados. From producers to consumers, everyone wants to get their hands on these powdery white crystals that look like snowflakes. Why? THCA isolate is a versatile product with insanely high potency and purity. Our article covers the basics of what is THCA, how it’s made, and how to use it.
What is THCA?
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in raw cannabis flower. In cannabis plants, THCA is an acidic precursor to the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compound. As the cannabis plant ages or undergoes various decarboxylation methods, THCA slowly converts into THC.
In its natural state, the cannabis plant goes through a vegetative and then flowering stage where it produces cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the mother of many therapeutic cannabinoids. Enzymes called synthases convert CBGA into THCA and other cannabinoids such as CBDA or CBCA before being converted to their parent compounds.
THCA can be consumed in the form of the raw cannabis plant or be extracted and made into tinctures, transdermal patches, edibles, capsules, and isolates. Isolates come in a THCA crystalline powder that’s white, odorless, and flavorless. Unlike other broad-spectrum or full-spectrum products, THCA isolate does not contain any other terpenes or cannabinoids.
Does THCA Get You High?
THCA crystalline contains nearly 100 percent THCA cannabinoids. Compare that to most extracts that contain between 50 percent and 80 percent THCA. Despite this high potency, don’t expect to get high from orally consuming this pure crystalline form. In fact, don’t expect any flavor or aroma either, since isolates are free of any aromatic compounds. Normally, consumers convert THCA to THC before consuming it by heating the product. Once THCA is converted to THC, through a vaporizer for example, it does produce psychoactive effects.
Benefits of THCA
While THCA doesn’t usually elicit a high, you can receive numerous wellness benefits from it. While the research is limited, studies suggest that THCA can indirectly act on similar endocannabinoid receptors as THC. One 2012 study found that THCA had neuroprotective effects against neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
A 2013 study found that THCA reduced nausea and vomiting in animal models. As an antiemetic, it could prove useful to stimulate appetites in cancer patients. Another study during the same year found that THCA helped reduce the spread of prostate cancer cells. THCA has also exhibited anti-inflammatory properties, which is helpful for certain conditions such as lupus and arthritis.
THCA’s benefits don’t end there. Other studies have shown that THCA can reduce pain and muscle spasms, which is helpful for people with chronic pain and epilepsy. THCA has also helped patients improve their insomnia to get better sleep. Furthermore, THCA has brought patients stress and anxiety relief, all without the traditional high of THC.
How THCA Isolates Are Made
THCA diamonds are some of the finest hash extracts around and require a unique and lab-grade process to produce them. To begin, extraction companies start off with a cannabis extract containing cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other essential oils. In order to separate the pure THCA isolate, extraction artists perform a number of washes and separation processes.
Hydrocarbon cannabis extraction using butane and other similar solvents is one of the most effective ways to make THCA isolates. In a closed-loop extraction machine, the hydrocarbon solvent removes any cannabis plant matter and impurities leaving behind a resin full of cannabis compounds. The crude oil undergoes a final vacuum purge under low temperatures to remove all the residual solvent.
After the solvent has been evaporated, the resulting resin is put in containers where crystal growth can occur. The separation process takes about two to three weeks during which cannabinoid crystals will begin to form. Technicians watch for crystalline formations on the bottom of the container under a semi-viscous top layer of terpenes. Knowing when to stop the crystal formation takes finesse, but is accessible for most home growers.
After the liquid terpenes have separated from the cannabinoid diamonds, the products are separately purged or purged at a very low temperature if they are too hard to separate. After a long purge, the cannabis products can be recombined or sold individually.
THCA crystalline can be consumed through a variety of ways, but one of the best ways to reap the therapeutic goodness is through vaporization and dabbing. Remember, THCA, by itself, is inactive and won’t elicit a high like THC. When heat is added through vaporization or combustion, however, the crystalline structures go through a decarboxylation process that activates them. The resulting compound is the mind-bending and relaxing THC compound.
Dabbing and vaping THCA is the fastest way to convert those powdery crystals into the intoxicating compounds we all know and love. Taking a THCA dab elicits an ultra-potent and psychoactive effect due to the nearly pure THC content when decarboxylated. When consumed in its raw form orally, THCA is not intoxicating and takes up to a couple of hours to take effect. Effects, however, last for several hours compared to the fast-acting effects of vaporization and dabbing, which can last up to four hours.
How to Use THCA
Apart from dabbing and vaporizing your THCA crystals in a dab rig or an electronic dab nail for precise heating temperatures, you can incorporate your THCA crystals into your smoking routine. Add some of your THCA powder on top of your packed flower bowl or inside your neatly wrapped joint. There’s no wrong way to consume THCA.
If you’re not interested in consuming through heating methods, you can also consume THCA orally, which won’t convert your product into THC. For instance, you can add your THCA crystals into a variety of foods and drinks such as juices and smoothies. Users can also introduce THCA into pills and capsules for daily use. This method allows you to consume pre-rationed doses for a consistent experience.
THCA can also be made into other oral products such as tinctures and droppers. Tinctures can be consumed orally or sublingually. Sublingual application has much quicker effects compared to oral ingestion. Users can apply THCA tinctures under the tongue and leave it there for up to 60 seconds. The THCA is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and the brain. THCA can be cooked into infused edibles, although the heat from cooking will convert the THCA to THC.
THCA is a tremendous new cannabinoid isolate on the concentrate market that can prove useful to both medical and recreational users. One of its main selling points is the need for less product. Studies have shown that THCA can have significant health benefits at very low doses, especially when paired with THC for improved effects. That means consumers can use and pay for less while getting more relief.
Some studies have shown that animal models require about 10 to 100 times lower doses than the required THC dosage. Some preclinical studies have shown that THCA can be up to 10 times more potent when used as a whole-plant extract instead of an isolate. As you can see, THCA research is still in its infancy. Despite the limited research, many doctors and patients are already seeing the considerable health benefits of low doses of THCA.
THCA isolates are a sneak peek into the future of cannabis concentrates. These single compound products are signs of a bright future in cannabinoid isolates and pharmacology. THCA can be used in many ways and allows you to control your high with ease, whether it’s for medical or recreational use. Go for the mega-potent high of THC or stick with a focused and sharp experience without the buzz.