THCO vs. THCA

A black surface with two bowls - one containing cannabis prerolls, and the other with a marijuana leaf and prerolls

In the ever-expanding world of cannabis and its numerous compounds, a fascinating and curious exploration awaits the inquisitive mind. Two such intriguing components with potential therapeutic benefits are THCO and THCA, each possessing their distinct identities and effects on the human body.

This article will peek beneath the surface of these compounds, delving into their unique properties, potential benefits, similarities, and differences. By the end, you should have a deep and thorough understanding of these two exciting and potentially therapeutic cannabinoids.

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Key Takeaways

  • THCO and THCA are two compounds found in cannabis. They both offer potential therapeutic benefits but differ in their effects and how they interact with the body.
  • THCA is non-psychoactive, making it a popular choice for individuals looking to steer clear of THC’s mind-altering effects. On the other hand, THCO is highly psychoactive and can produce a more pronounced euphoria.
  • The decision between THCO vs. THCA depends on individual needs and preferences. It’s important to make an informed choice about cannabis products to get the most out of your therapeutic experience.

 

What is THCO?

Tetrahydrocannabinol-o-acetate (THCO) is a synthetically created type of THC that has gained popularity in the cannabinoid realm due to its powerful effects.

While its chemical structure is similar to delta 9 THC, an additional acetate group increases its lipophilic nature, allowing it to easily permeate the blood-brain barrier. As a result, THCO exhibits psychoactive properties, with users reporting experiences comparable to THC, although it may exhibit a delay in onset and heightened intensity.

THCO’s chemical structure also makes it resistant to degradation in the human body, making it longer lasting than THC. Moreover, it possesses a greater affinity for CB1 receptors, which contribute to the enjoyable sensations associated with cannabis use.

 

What is THCA?

THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant. It is the precursor to THC. When exposed to heat, it converts into its active form. Under normal conditions, THCA is non-psychoactive due to its acidic nature.

THCA, however, becomes delta 9 THC upon decarboxylation – a process of losing a carboxyl group, often occurring when cannabis is exposed to heat. Consequently, THCA itself is a non-psychoactive compound.

Research has linked its potential benefits to anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and antiemetic effects, highlighting its ability to alleviate pain, protect brain cells, and deter nausea.

The difference between THCA and THC is the presence of a carboxyl group. This means that THCA has an extra COOH attached to it, while THC does not. When heated, this COOH group is released and the resulting compound becomes THC – which has psychoactive properties.

Something worth noting is that THCA and THCV are two different cannabinoids that are often confused. THCA is the precursor to THC, while THCV is a separate compound that has its own unique effects.

 

Does THCO Get You High?

Yes, THCO is one of the psychoactive compounds in marijuana that produces the feeling of being “high.” When THCO binds to CB1 receptors in the brain, it triggers feelings of euphoria from the brain’s reward system.

This cannabinoid activates the brain’s reward system by releasing dopamine at levels higher than natural rewards like food or social interaction. This is why many people find the effects of marijuana to be much more pleasurable than other rewards.

 

Does THCA Get You High?

One of the most common questions in the cannabis world is, does THCA make you high? Well, the answer is no. THCA does not get you high because it is a non-psychoactive compound.

In its raw form, the carboxyl group prevents it from binding to CB1 receptors and producing the same euphoric effects that THC does. However, When THCA is decarboxylated, it breaks down into THC and can then produce psychoactive effects.

 

THCO vs. THCA: Similarities

Chemical Structure and Origins

Both THCO and THCA are naturally occurring cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant. Although their chemical structures are alike, the distinct psychoactive properties result from the presence or absence of a particular chemical bond.

THCA has an additional carboxylic acid chain, which is responsible for its non-psychoactive nature. On the other hand, THCO has an additional hydroxyl group, and this is what makes it highly psychoactive.

Biological Activity

THCO and THCA are both able to interact with the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. This system helps regulate functions such as appetite, pain perception, sleep, mood, and memory.

When either of these cannabinoids is introduced into the body, this system reacts and provides effects such as pain relief, inflammation reduction, and other therapeutic benefits.

Formation Process

Both compounds are formed as the cannabis plant matures, with THCA being produced first from the decarboxylation of its precursor, CBGA. Similarly, THCO is formed through a complex process of chemical synthesis that begins with the conversion of THCA into delta 9 THC, followed by an additional process involving an acetate molecule.

The formation of THCA and THCO is believed to occur in two distinct stages. First, CBGA (the precursor compound) is converted into THCA through a process known as decarboxylation. Decarboxylation involves the removal of an acidic group from CBGA, resulting in the formation of THCA. This process can be accelerated by heat, light, or oxygen exposure.

Once THCA has been formed, it is then converted into delta 9 THC through a process known as isomerization. This process involves the rearrangement of chemical bonds within THCA and results in the formation of delta 9 THC.

Finally, in order to produce THCO, an additional step must be taken involving the combination of delta 9 THC with an acetate molecule. This leads to the creation of THCO.

Non-Toxic and Generally Safe

Both THCO and THCA are generally considered safe and non-toxic for human consumption. Nonetheless, as with other cannabinoids, exercising prudence and adhering to suggested dosage instructions are vital to reduce the likelihood of potential side effects and adverse responses.

However, the safety of both cannabinoids relies on the caliber and potency of the product being consumed. It is essential to purchase your THCA diamonds and other products from reputable manufacturers who utilize reliably sourced ingredients and provide accurate, transparent information about their products.

 

THCO vs. THCA: Differences

Legality

In early 2023, the DEA issued a statement where it classified THCO as a Schedule I substance, thus making it federally illegal in the US. Their main argument was that THCO is not a naturally occurring cannabinoid and can only be made using synthetic processes.

Meanwhile, THCA remains federally legal as it is naturally occurring in both marijuana and hemp plants.

Psychoactive Properties

The critical difference between THCO and THCA lies in their psychoactive properties. THCO is known to have a significantly higher potency than delta 9 THC, thus producing intense psychoactive effects.

In contrast, THCA is non-psychoactive and does not produce euphoric or intoxicating effects when consumed.

Bioavailability

THCO is known to have a higher bioavailability and faster absorption rate than THCA in the human body. Owing to its capacity to swiftly permeate the blood-brain barrier, it results in a more rapid onset and heightened potency.

Depending on the method of ingestion, the bioavailability of THCO or THCA will also differ. For instance, when consuming cannabis edibles, it’s estimated that a mere 5-10% of THC enters the bloodstream, owing to its poor water solubility and sluggish digestion rate.

Conversely, inhalation boasts a substantially increased absorption rate of up to 30%, with the potential for even higher rates when vaporizing.

THCA, on the other hand, is not psychoactive and has very low bioavailability due to its water insolubility and slow digestion rate. Therefore, it can be concluded that THCO is more bioavailable than THCA and this will ultimately affect the magnitude and speed of its effects.

Stability and Shelf-Life

THCA is inherently unstable and can rapidly convert to THC through heat, light, or prolonged storage. In contrast, THCO exhibits greater stability and is less prone to convert into other cannabinoids when stored properly.

The shelf-life of THCO is much longer than that of THCA. When stored correctly, THCO can maintain its cannabinoid content and potency for up to two years. On the other hand, THCA typically has a shelf-life of around six months before it starts to convert into THC.

Addiction Potential

Addiction occurs when a person develops a physical or psychological dependence on something. Similar to numerous psychoactive substances, THC-O can foster addiction when consumed excessively or over prolonged durations.

THCA, however, is non-psychoactive and therefore carries a much lower risk of THCA addiction compared to THCO. The long-term use of THCA generally does not result in any physical or psychological dependence.

 

THCA vs. THCO: Potential Benefits

Both THCA and THCO have potential medical benefits, but they each work differently within the body.

THCA possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties that may aid in alleviating inflammation, combating free radicals, and safeguarding neurons from harm. It is currently being studied for its potential benefits to help rescue the symptoms of several conditions.

THCA operates by binding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors within the endocannabinoid system, exhibiting a greater predilection for the CB2 receptor. This binding plays a crucial role in regulating numerous physiological functions and serves as a potential treatment for various medical conditions.

THC-O possesses pain-relieving, anti-nausea, and anxiety-reducing attributes that may effectively alleviate pain, nausea, and calm an overactive mind.

THCO functions by attaching to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors within the endocannabinoid system. Upon activation of these receptors, various physiological responses may be initiated, contingent on the specific receptor type involved.

It’s worth mentioning that, unlike THCA, THCO has a greater affinity for the CB1 receptor, which may explain why it is more psychoactive than THCA. This means that it can have a greater impact on mood and cognitive functioning.

 

THCA vs. THCO: Potential Side Effects

Just like other cannabinoids, THCA and THCO have their own set of potential side effects. Although most people utilize these substances to alleviate medical ailments, it is vital to remain cognisant of the potential hazards they pose.

THCA has been known to cause dry mouth in some users, as well as increased heart rate and appetite changes. Additionally, it may cause minor side effects like headaches, dizziness, tiredness, and confusion.

THCO has similar potential side effects to THCA. Nonetheless, owing to its potent psychoactive properties, it may induce more intense consequences, such as apprehension, extreme distrust, and psychotic episodes. It can also lead to addiction in some users.

When you consume THCO, you may experience heightened sensations, enhanced creativity, and improved focus. However, these effects can be accompanied by potential risks such as impaired coordination, slowed reaction time, and confusion.

For both THCA and THCO, it is important to start with a low dose and increase gradually to assess your body’s tolerance levels. It is also prudent to remain vigilant when consuming these compounds and to be aware of any unexpected reactions. If the side effects become severe or prolonged, seek professional medical advice immediately.

 

THCO or THCA, Which One is Better?

Frankly, there is no universal solution to this question. Both THCO and THCA offer potential therapeutic benefits and should be approached with an understanding of their unique properties.

THCA is non-psychoactive, so it may be the best choice for those wanting to avoid the intoxicating effects of THC. It can help alleviate inflammation, reduce nausea, and provide pain relief without producing any psychoactive effects.

On the other hand, THCO is highly psychoactive and can provide a more pronounced mood elevation and euphoria. Moreover, it exhibits anti-inflammatory, nausea-reducing, and pain-relieving characteristics.

The choice between THCO and THCA depends on the individual’s goals and preferences. Generally, those looking for therapeutic effects without the intoxicating effects of THC should reach for THCA, while those who want to experience a more pronounced psychoactive effect should opt for THCO.

It is also worth mentioning that, considering the new DEA rulings, which made THCO illegal, you should avoid consuming it as you can get in legal trouble.

 

Conclusion — THCO vs. THCA

Now that we have explored the differences between THCO and THCA, it is clear that both compounds hold great potential for medicinal purposes. Although there are still many unknowns about the exact effects of either compound, both have been shown to provide therapeutic benefits.

As research continues to progress, the medical advantages of these two compounds will become even more apparent.

Ultimately, when it comes to THCO vs. THCA, the decision of which compound to use will depend on an individual’s specific needs and preferences. The key is to treat this article as a helpful guide, consult a healthcare professional if needed, and select the product that suits you best.

By making a well-informed decision on cannabis products, you can guarantee a more rewarding therapeutic experience.

 

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