Cannabinoids and Their Bioavailability

Inside the cannabis plant, cannabinoids such as THC occur in the form of acids. Take THCA for example. Cannabinoid acids are not easily absorbed by the human body. The ability of a drug being absorbed is called bioavailability. Once a Cannabinoid acid is heated up, however, they give up a carbon dioxide molecule and are transformed into a neutral state. This process is called decarboxylation and makes cannabinoids in their neutral state-more bioavailable. Cannabinoid acids are very fragile. Cannabinoid acids even at room temperature are slowly converted to their bioavailable neutral forms. Many Cannabinoid acids can even be converted to their neutral forms simply with steady and moderate heat (with a temperature below boiling or combustion points of the cannabis constituents). 

Conversion of THCA to THC 

Converting the Cannabinoid acid THCA to its neutral state, THC-can be accomplished fairly quickly. Maintaining a temperature of 310 degrees Fahrenheit (154 degrees Celsius) for a period of seven minutes will accomplish the conversion of THCA to THC. Decarboxylated cannabis and cannabis concentrates should be handled with great care due to their high bioavailabilities. Mishandling Decarboxylated cannabis and cannabis concentrates could easily result in accidental overdosing by ingestion (such as “cookie casualty”).  

Can cannabinoid Acids Be Effective Medicine? 

Is it a possibility that Cannabinoid acids can be effective medicine? In other words, can raw cannabis and its associated Cannabinoid acids be more effective medicinally (can they be better absorbed), than neutral cannabinoids produced by heat application? While this controversy still remains unproven, a small-scale study that was recently published states that Decarboxylated THC was more bioavailable than THC acid and CBD acid was more bioavailable than Decarboxylated CBD. This study was executed by a Dutch scientist named Arno Hazekamp. This study involved cannabis tea. The cannabis tea was composed of hot water. The water was not hot enough to decarboxylate the THC, however, patients were still feeling some medicinal effects after drinking the cannabis tea. These medicinal effects were very low key, therefore-patients did not get very “high”. 

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