The cannabis plant is full of interesting chemicals, but few have captured the public imagination, like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC gets you high and has numerous medical benefits, making it one of the most popular cannabinoids in cannabis. But did you know that four different types of THC are present in the cannabis plant? THCA, THCV, Delta-8 THC, and Delta-9 THC—Each type has its unique properties and potential medical benefits. Let’s take a look at them and see what each type offers.
THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid)
THCA, short for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), is a non-psychoactive compound found in raw or live cannabis plants. It’s the precursor to Delta-9 THC (the one we usually associate with the “high” feeling), but it doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects until it is heated. When heated through decarboxylation or smoking/vaping, THCA transforms into active THC. Research suggests that THCA may offer anti-inflammatory and analgesic benefits without any intoxicating effects—making it a potentially desirable option for users who don’t want to get high but still want to experience some of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
- Nausea and loss of appetite due to chemotherapy and other cancer treatments
- Inflammation (swelling of muscles or other tissues)
- Chronic pain
- Other conditions resulting in muscle spasms, such as MS and ALS
THCV, short for tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), this compound is similar to THCA in that it doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects until it is heated through decarboxylation or smoking/vaping. However, unlike THCA and Delta-9 THC, which are both intoxicating when activated, research suggests that activated THCV may actually counteract some of the intoxicating effects associated with other forms of THC—which could make it an attractive option for those who want to experience some of the therapeutic benefits without getting too high. Research suggests that this compound may have appetite-suppressant properties and potential anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits. It’s thought to be less potent than THC Delta-9 but still offers some psychoactive effects. Also referred to as “the alertness cannabinoid,” THCV can provide mental clarity and energy while reducing anxiety and hunger. Research has also suggested that THCV may help manage diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
- Diabetes, primarily type II glucose intolerance related to obesity
- Pain and swelling (inflammation)
- Tremors from Parkinson’s and ALS
- Brain lesions from late-stage Parkinson’s
- Because it stimulates bone growth, it may be helpful for people with osteoporosis and related conditions
Strains high in THCV include Pineapple Purps, Ace of Spades, Doug’s Varin, Durban Poison, Power Plant, Willie Nelson, Jack the Ripper, and other African Sativa strains.
Delta-8 THC (Delta 8 Tetrahydrocannabinol)
Delta-8 THC, this form of cannabinoid, occurs naturally in only small amounts in most strains of cannabis but can be artificially produced from hemp extractions using advanced techniques such as chromatography and distillation processes. Delta-8 has a similar chemical composition as Delta-9 with a few minor differences which make its effects slightly different than those associated with traditional Delta-9 products; Many users report slightly less intense psychotropic effects while still experiencing notable euphoric sensations when consuming Delta-8 products such as waxes or edibles. In addition to these milder euphoric sensations, many users claim that Delta-8 helps them achieve an overall sense of calmness and relaxation without feeling sedated like they might when consuming traditional Delta-9 products. The difference between Delta 8 and 9 is just one double bond making it legal even though they are molecularly very close together; however, this tiny difference allows consumers to experience a milder yet still enjoyable high “legally” at a federal level.
Delta-8 is gaining popularity among medical marijuana patients because it allows them to experience fewer side effects than Delta-9 while still getting the desired therapeutic benefits.
- Decreases nausea and vomiting
- Helps protect brain cells (a neuroprotectant)
- Reduces anxiety
- Stimulates appetite
- Helps relieve pain (analgesic)
- Can reduce the size of tumors
- Helps cause the release of acetylcholine, which is involved in memory and learning
Delta-9 THC (Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol)
Delta 9 THC, this form of cannabinoid, is arguably the most popular due to its strong psychoactive properties, which produce strong feelings of euphoria, relaxation, creativity, focus, energy, etc., depending on the strain consumed. Often referred to simply as “THC,” this form produces full body highs, lasting anywhere from 1 – 3 hours, depending on the dosage consumed. Most recreational users prefer this form due to its powerful mood-enhancing qualities; however, Delta 9 also offers powerful therapeutic benefits such as reducing inflammation & pain, aiding sleep cycles & anxiety relief.
- Pain relief
- Appetite stimulation
- Anti-nausea effects
- Help reduce inflammation
- Improve sleep quality
- Reduce stress levels
- Boost creativity and focus
- Relieve muscle spasms
- Stimulate appetite
- Improve mood disorders such as depression and anxiety
- Alleviate symptoms associated with cancer treatments (chemotherapy or radiation therapy)
- Reduce seizures caused by epilepsy or other neurological disorders
- Treating PTSD
As you can see from our brief overview above, there are four significant types of THC found in the cannabis plant—THCA, THCV, Delta-8 THC, and Delta-9 THC. All four types have unique properties and medical benefits, making them useful for different purposes depending on your individual needs. If you’re looking for something that provides mild psychoactive effects without being too intense, Delta-8 might be worth exploring further. At the same time, those seeking relief from chronic pain or inflammation could find great success with THCA or Delta-9, depending on their preference and tolerance level. Ultimately it comes down to personal experimentation in order to find what works best for you! No matter what your reasons for consuming marijuana are – recreational or medical – understanding the different types of THC found within the plant can help you make better decisions about what kind of product will work best for you and your needs. Understanding how each type works differently can also give you insight into how they interact with each other so you can find combinations that work best for you! So if you want to get the most out of your marijuana experience, start by researching these four major types of THC so you can make an educated decision on which one will be right for you!