Acid cannabinoids: medicinal benefits of THCa and CBDa – Supply Marijuana Store Mississauga Canada

Herb Approach

As previously explained in several of our articles, cannabinoids are types of chemical compounds that act on specific receptors in the brain and cells of the body, which alter and / or regulate various physiological functions, modulating the signals in the endocannabinoid system. Today we would like to talk about THCa and CBDa, two acid cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are classified as endocannabinoids (produced endogenously in the body of animals), phytocannabinoids (which can be found in the cannabis plant), and synthetic cannabinoids (produced chemically in laboratories). Today, most studies focus on those cannabinoids naturally produced by the plant, as well as THC and CBD, but studies on other lesser-known cannabinoids are increasing.

While CBD and THC are generally considered to be the main medicinal power of the plant, in this article we will summarize the latest discoveries about the benefits of two acid cannabinoids: THCa and CBDa.

Phytocannabinoids during the growth of the cannabis plant

In 1963 a group of researchers[1], led by Dr. R. Mechoulam, isolated and reported the chemical structure of the CBD. A year later, the same group finally managed to isolate the THC and explain its exact structure[2].

Years later, to get a better understanding of the biogenesis of cannabinoids, the group of researchers understood that the isolation and classification of all Acid cannabinoids[3]. With him cannabidiol acid, the cannabinolic and cannabigerolic acids they were identified. They have also been classified two acids Δ⁹-THC, TO[4] and B, as well as the acid Δ⁸-THC and cannabielsoic acid.

Following these discoveries, a possible pathway for the biogenesis of cannabinoids in the plant has been published. The group assumed that it is possible that some of the natural neutral cannabinoids are artifacts formed by different processes: decarboxylation, oxidation (cannabial acid), photochemical cyclisation (cannabicyclol), or isomerization (Δ⁸-THC and Δ⁸-THC acid) of others constituents[5].

Acid cannabinoids: THCa and CBDa

The two main cannabinoids, THC and CBD, do not exist in their neutral form in the cannabis plant. In fact, during the growth of the plant, they appear in their acid form as THCa Y CBDa. Once these acidic cannabinoids are exposed to heat, a chemical reaction called "decarboxylation", More commonly known as activation.

As a result of exposure to heat, these two cannabinoids change shape to become THC and CBD. This heating process can be the result of smoking, vaporizing, heating a mixture of butter and cannabis, but actually starts in a small part of the plant during the drying process, once the plant is ready.

As for THC, the activation of acid THC to obtain the carboxylated form is what gives rise to the THC psychoactivity[6]. Consuming THC acid will not cause any drunkenness, since it acts in different ways that do not cause any psychotropic effect. During the decarboxylation process the molecule changes its structure eliminating a carboxyl group (COOH) from its acid composition. This conversion transforms acidic cannabinoids into a neutral state that interacts with CB-1 and CB-2 receptors and provides psychoactive effects, most commonly associated with smoking or cannabis intake.

While we understand the psychoactive and therapeutic benefits of neutral cannabinoids, how does the original acid molecule interact with the human body?

Medicinal benefits of THCa and CBDa (acid cannabinoids)

When talking about advanced physiopathological concepts, it is better to take a look at how these acidic compounds work in nature.

Once cannabis reaches maturity, THCa accumulates in high concentrations in flowers and leaves. Its goal is to induce cell death, known as necrosis, by creating a pathway through the mitochondrial membrane of cells. This action keeps the mature plant healthy, eliminating already dead cells, those that are about to die or damaged ones.

Humans have a similar mechanism known as programmed cell death[7]. This term is common when talking about cancer as an error in the programming of cell death that allows diseased cells to remain active. The proliferation of these diseased cells can result in cancer. While this is an important finding, it still does not fully answer how these cannabinoids support human health, and more studies on THCa are needed.

So far, we know that acid cannabinoids do not seem to interact with cannabinoid receptors. THCa and CBDa (both acid cannabinoids) are committed to the human endocannabinoid system by altering the efficiency of four primary functions: release of COX-1, inhibition of COX-2, inhibition of TNF-alpha and release of interleukin-10[8]. Finally, this means that these cannabinoids actively support our body's ability to reduce inflammation, stimulate the performance of the immune system and, in general, significantly reduce pain levels. Although substantial research regarding CBDa is scarce, preliminary laboratory evidence suggests that CBDa could help in four different therapeutic areas:

  • Inflammation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Epilepsy
  • Anxiety

CBD against inflammation

The investigation in vitro in the laboratory has shown that the CBDa has powerful anti-inflammatory properties due to the inhibition of COX-2 (cyclo-oxygenase) activity[9]. COX-2 is expressed by cells that are involved in inflammation and has emerged as the main isoform responsible for the synthesis of prostanoids (PG – a complex group of fatty acids), which participate in acute and chronic inflammatory states of the processes pathological[10].

Classical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have shown inhibition of the activity of both COX-1 and COX-2. The inhibition of PG-COX-2-dependent synthesis explains the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of NSAIDs, while the suppression of COX-1 could cause several undesired side effects.

Therefore, it has been deduced that specific inhibitors for the COX-2 enzyme could have ideal therapeutic actions, similar to those of classical NSAIDs, without producing any adverse effect, caused by the inhibition of COX-1 activities.

CBDa against nausea and vomiting

Several studies have also demonstrated the effects of CBD in reducing nausea and vomiting, through indirect agonism of the 5-HT1A receptors located in the brainstem[11]. CBDa inhibits induced behavior by nausea in rats by somehow improving the activation of 5-HT1A receptors, interestingly at a much lower concentration than CBD.

It will also be necessary to look for the mechanisms by which CBDA induces the improvement of the activation of 5-HT1A receptors. This could be investigated by carrying out experiments in vitro with 5-HT1A transfused cells that do not express other types of receptors. On the other hand, CBDa has also demonstrated its ability to suppress both vomiting induced by toxins and movements in shrews.

CBDa as an antiepileptic drug

In a patent registered in 2015 by GW Pharma[12], the antiepileptic effect of CBDa It was studied and explained. Already having a drug based on CBD to treat rare types of epilepsy, as well as Dravet Syndrome, the company observed some limitations, such as the low bioavailability of the product and the need to be administered in high doses.

GW Pharma has discovered that by adding low amounts of CBDa, the therapeutic effect of the drug was more potent, with a faster action and a more potent effect, and is less likely to cause side effects. In addition, this would have a greater bioavailability, what they suggested could mean a faster onset of the effects. In fact, the company plans to combine both cannabinoids in an antiepileptic drug, since CBDa could be useful in providing a rapid onset of effect, while CBD could be useful in providing an extended effect.

The CBDa could help with Anxiety and Depression

The anxiolytic effects of CBD have been highlighted by several studies in humans with social anxiety and depression. Like CBD, CBDA activates the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor, also known as Modulate feelings of well-being and anxiety. In a study carried out in rats and published in European Neuropsychopharmacology[13], it was shown that CBDa provides antidepressant effects in doses 10 to 100 times smaller than CBD, but more research is needed in humans.

Acid cannabinoids in the treatment of cancer

The CBDa has shown possibilities to inhibit the growth of cancer. The connection between cancer and the acid form of CBD was demonstrated in a 2012 study on breast cancer cells[14]. In this study it was explained that CBDa could be involved in some way in cancer growth by suppressing the COX-2 enzyme, an important instigator of breast cancer metastasis, as well as other forms of tumors[15].

Similarly, both THCa and like CBDA (acid cannabinoids) have shown their anti-inflammatory effects, which makes them a powerful cancer killer. A Swedish study of 2011 on the evaluation of six different cannabinoids[16], including its acidic forms, found that the six substances together provide a strong effect on the anti-inflammatory processes in colon cancer cell lines in the laboratory. They have shown that, by interfering with the anti-inflammatory process, they could inhibit the proliferation of cancer.

While the effectiveness of THCa and CBDA (acid cannabinoids) is still under investigation, the use of these acid cannabinoids within the modern cannabis industry is very promising and worthwhile research conducted by researchers and cannabis experts.

Existing research on the benefits of both CBDA and THCa, especially in terms of inflammation and cancer, already leaves high hopes for those who want to undergo cannabis treatments, without experiencing any psychoactive effects. Fortunately, with more research on the whole cannabis plant, and not just about CBD and THC in its neutral form, a better understanding of each cannabinoid in nature will allow more approaches and different methodologies based on medicinal cannabis.

Did you like this post? Make an assessment. This post has been made based on existing research until the date of publication of the article. Due to the increase of studies around medical cannabis, the information exposed may vary over time and we will inform in subsequent writings.

[1] Mechoulam R, Gaoni Y. The isolation and structure of cannabinolic, cannabidiolic and cannabigerolic acids. Tetrahedron. 1965; 21: 1223-1229. [PubMed]

[2] Gaoni Y., Mechoulam R. (1964) Isolation, structure and partial synthesis of an active constituent of hashish. J Am Chem Soc 86: 1646-1647 [Ref list]

[3] ElSohly, M.A., and Slade, D. (2005). Chemical constituents of marijuana: the complex mixture of natural cannabinoids. Life Sci. 78, 539-548. doi: 10.1016 / j.lfs.2005.09.011 [PubMed Abstract]

[4] Guillermo Moreno-Sanz (2016). Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. Volume 1, issue 1

[5] Sirikantaramas, S., Taura, F., Morimoto, S., and Shoyama, Y. (2007). Recent advances in Cannabis sativa research: biosynthetic studies and its potential in biotechnology. Curr. Pharm. Biotechnol. 8, 237-243. doi: 10.2174 / 138920107781387456 [PubMed Abstract]

[6] Kerstin Iffland, Michael Carus and Dr. med. Franjo Grotenhermen (2016). Decarboxylation of Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) to active THC. European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA).

[7] Guillermo Moreno-Sanz (2016). Can You Pass the Acid Test? Critical Review and Novel Therapeutic Perspectives of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid A. Cannabis and Cannabinoids Research, Volume 1 issue 1

[8] Angelo A. Izzo, Francesca Borrelli, Raffaele Capasso, Vincenzo Di Marzo and Raphael Mechoulam. Non-psychotropic plant cannabinoids: new therapeutic opportunities from an ancient herb. https: // doi: 10.1016 /

[9] Shuso Takeda, Koichiro Misawa, Ikuo Yamamoto, and Kazuhito Watanabe (2008). Cannabidiolic Acid as a Selective Cyclooxygenase-2 Inhibitory Component in Cannabis. Vol. 36, No. 9 The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 20909/3374428. DMD 36: 1917-1921, 2008

[10] Smith WL, DeWitt DL, Garavito RM. Cyclooxygenases: Structural, cellular, and molecular biology. Annu Rev Biochem. 2000; 69: 145-182. [PubMed]

[11] Cluny NL, Naylor RJ, Whittle BA, Javid FA. The effects of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol on motion-induced emesis in Suncus murinus. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2008; 103: 150-156.[PubMed]

[12] Colin Stott, Nicholas Jones, Robin Williams, Benjamin Whalley (2017). Use of cannabinoids in the treatment of epilepsy. International Publication Number: WO 2017/025712

[13] L. Shbiro, D. Hen-Shoval, N. Hazut, G. Zalsman, R. Mechoulam, A. Weller, G. Shoval (2017). Anti-depressant-like effects of cannabidiol and cannabidiolic acid in genetic rat models of depression. European Neuropsychopharmacology, Volume 27, Supplement 4, pages S783-S784, DOI:

[14] Takeda S, Okajima S, Miyoshi H, Yoshida K, et alt. (2012). Cannabidiolic acid, a major cannabinoid in fiber-type cannabis, is an inhibitor of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell migration. Toxicology Letters, 214 (3): 314-9. DOI: 10.1016 / j.toxlet.2012.08.029

[15] Takeda S, Okajima S, Miyoshi H, Yoshida K, Okamoto Y (2012). Cannabidiolic acid, a major cannabinoid in fiber-type cannabis, is an inhibitor of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell migration. DOI: 10.1016 / j.toxlet.2012.08.029.

[16] Ruhaak LR, Felth J, Karlsson PC, Rafter JJ, Verpoorte R, Bohlin L. (2011). Evaluation of the cyclooxygenase inhibiting effects of six major cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis sativa. Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin, 34 (5): 774-8


Acid cannabinoids: medicinal benefits of THCa and CBDa


Acid cannabinoids: medicinal benefits of THCa and CBDa


The cannabinoids acids THCa and CBDa are showing several medicinal benefits in treatments for inflammation, epilepsy, nausea and vomiting


Mario Romano

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