The cannabis plant actually synthesizes cannabinoids in the acid form. So instead of THC, the plant makes THCA. This is also true for the other cannabinoids, such as CBDA, CBGA, CBCA, etc.
A series of enzymatic steps take place in the plant in order to make these acidic compounds. First, olivitolic acid is converted to cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). From there, the plant converts CBGA to either tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) or cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). Researchers have found that the cannabinoid acids have their own unique pharmacological profile, which distinctly differs from their decarboxylated counterparts.
It’s only when you apply heat to the cannabinoid acids that the acidic carboxyl group is removed and they convert to the forms commonly used in the cannabis world. This practice is commonly referred to as decarboxylation. The most common source of heat is supplied by burning the flower, but decarboxylation can also be accomplished by baking or extracting. It’s only after the carboxyl group is removed, that the non-psychoactive THCA becomes psychoactive d9-THC. This is why eating raw flowers does not produce the desired effect!
In order to detect accurate potency numbers, testing labs must account for the conversion of cannabinoid acids to cannabinoids. Because testing labs use raw flower for potency testing, their instruments actually detect the cannabinoid acids. They multiply the cannabinoid acid figures by .887 to calculate the total cannabinoid potential of the sample. (https://www.conflabs.com/why-0-877/).
Researchers have found that the cannabinoid acids have their own unique pharmacological profile, which distinctly differs from their decarboxylated counterparts. For example, preliminary data demonstrates potential applications for THCA as an immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory antineoplastic, and neuroprotective agent. And because THCA has no psychoactive effects, patients can take large doses without compromising their cognitive abilities.
Cannabinoid acid forms are receiving increased attention in the medical community, providing yet another exciting avenue for cannabinoid therapeutics. CannMed 2019 will include presentations about potentially using cannabinoid acids to treat inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), skin disorders, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic disorders! Read more about these presentations and buy your tickets at cannmedevents.com.