Decarboxylation of THCA Enhances the Effects of Cannabis
Posted on August 6th, 2021
If you want to understand why decarboxylation of THCA matters, consider this. If you consume a whole bag of raw cannabis, you’ll hardly experience any psychoactive effects. How could that be?
Well, here’s the story. Raw cannabis is mostly made up of THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). While THCA seems to have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory qualities, it’s not intoxicating like THC. So, to get that effect, raw cannabis must go through the process of decarboxylation of THCA. When that happens, THCA converts into THC. (And you’ll get the highs that cannabis is famous for.)
But what is decarboxylation? And who can run this process that activates cannabis’ cannabinoids? Read on to find out!
What is THCA?
Before we talk decarboxylation, let’s explore THCA in detail. This compound is available in cannabis, and it has potential therapeutic qualities.
Also, it’s non-intoxicating, and you can find it in both raw and live cannabis. But that’s not the case with THC. Because that cannabinoid only forms with the plant material starts drying out.
Now, this process may occur naturally over time. But heating can expedite this conversion. And that act of heating is what we call decarboxylation. Which you can do by smoking, vaporizing, or using other means to heat the raw plant material.
Benefits of THCA
Keep in mind, THCA has its own potential benefits. We’re already noticing its anti-inflammatory properties. So, with more research, THCA may help manage lupus, since with this condition, your body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.
People suffering from arthritis may also find relief with THCA, since the disease causes inflammation and swelling in one or more joints. Plus, THCA may have neuroprotective properties, which is why one day it may help treat neurodegenerative diseases.
You may also find that THCA helps with loss of appetite and nausea. Studies suggest it may even help people with prostate cancer, since THCA seems to have properties that keep cells from proliferating through your body. Finally, many people turn to THCA when suffering from insomnia, pain, and muscle spasms.
Now you’ve understood some of the ways people use this product. But you may wonder, how can you get THCA? And, as it turns out, that is a bit more complicated than you might imagine.
Sourcing Cannabolic Acids
You can get your THCA juicing raw cannabis. Fresh green juice is the liquid extracted from solid vegetables and fruits, and rarely contains any sugar, preservatives or chemicals. The nutrients that are there in fresh juice are readily absorbed by the body through its quick digestion. They can also contain a lot of antioxidants, phytochemicals , minerals and vitamins, each of which is good for bodily health. Fresh cannabis leaves can be added to these green juices and will further add to the beneficial effects of taking green juices, because of the THCA present in them. Organically grown cannabis plants are the best for green juice
and you should use 15 to 20 fresh fan leaves, or 30 to 40 fresh sugar leaves of the plant, or 2 large fresh buds. Blend it with the freshy juiced greens or vegetables.
How Can we Perform Decarboxylation of THCA?
Let us get back now to decarboxylation of THCA. For decarboxylation to occur you need both heat and time. The initial process of extracting the cannabis plant material starts with drying and curing. These processes will cause a partial decarboxylation to occur. That is why, if you test the flowers at this time , you will notice the presence of small quantities of THC, along with the high quantities of THCA. If you use these cured and dried flowers for smoking or vaporizing there is instant decarboxylation of the cannabinoids, which make THC immediately available for inhaling and absorbing. These decarboxylated cannabinoids are in vapor form and are easily absorbed into the lungs.
When you decarboxylate THCA at lower temperatures, you preserve the integrity of cannabinoids. And, as a result, you can consume the decarboxylated cannabis in any form, even in edibles.
The decarboxylation of the THCA into THC and other compounds starts at a temperature of 220 degrees Fahrenheit, and requires the cannabis to be exposed to this temperature for at least 30 to 45 minutes. To preserve the terpenes it is better if lower temperatures are used for longer periods of time. High temperatures cause the volatile mono and sesquiterpenes to evaporate, and what is left behind is flavors and aromas that may not be desirable. Temperatures of over 300 degrees F affect the integrity of terpenoids and cannabinoids, and that is the reason temperatures used are best if they are in the 200’s. CBN or cannabinol is less directly psychoactive and acts like a sedative, and is also a by-product of the heat and time that raw cannabis is subjected to.
At Home Options
You can always decarb raw cannabis at home. But you will need to find your starting materials. (That means sourcing dried and cured cannabis plant products.) You also need an oven that you can set to temperatures of 220 to 235 degrees F.
You will need to finely grind the raw cannabis and spread it on parchment paper and placed in a baking tray. Bake for at least 45 minutes.
Another options? Dissolve the cannabis in cooking oils or lecithin. Then, you’ll have a solution to work with. Simply put it in a slow cooker, and you can create infusions for anything from cookies to cannabis capsules.
Decarboxylation of THCA: What are the Benefits?
Some times, there’s no need to decarb THCA. Because you may do it naturally, through the most common forms of marijuana consumption. After all, if you smoke or vape weed, you’ll naturally go through this process.
Still, decarboxylation does make marijuana more potent. But dried marijuana material produces harsher smoke once baked in your oven. To prevent that problem, seal your coarse ground weed in a plastic bag, and try sous vide cooking. (We usually use this method to cook meat and fish.)
Even with cannabis, you can still sous vide the same way. Just seal your plant material in air-tight bags, then immerse them in warm water. Basically, this is a slow cooking method that can last for hours. If you don’t have bags, you can also use glass jars. You can also use a vacuum sealer for better quality, or a professional sous vide device that lets you control the temperature.
Not up for a gourmet experiment? Even microwaves can work in a pinch. But we don’t recommend microwaving since it may destroy the terpenes or even cannabinoids. Still, if you do go this route, know that the process is fast. In fact, you’ll just need three minutes for three grams of material.
Decarboxylation of cannabis in any form has a major effect on the way that the marijuana will work. It also makes its use more versatile whether you are using it for recreational purposes or for its medical effects. For making edibles it is a process that cannot be avoided.