Should Senior Citizens Try THCA?

Published September 27, 2023
Should Senior Citizens Try THCA? - Secret Nature

Any age gap that once existed between those who enjoy cannabis and those who do not has all-but disappeared. Nowadays, it’s not just college kids who like to smoke weed — starting with nursing homes in Israel, use of cannabis has spread among senior citizens like wildfire, marking one of the most interesting turns in the long history of cannabis.

Is it a good idea for senior citizens to try the cannabinoid THCA, however, which converts into THC under most circumstances? How might this cannabinoid be of particular use to seniors, and are there any dangers associated with cannabis use that apply specifically to the elderly? Learn everything you need to know about using THCA as a senior in this guide.

What is THCA?

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is the direct chemical precursor to delta-9 THC, commonly shortened as “THC.” During the maturation cycle of cannabis, THCA occurs first, and it can then be converted into THC via a variety of different catalysts either before or after harvest.

The vast majority of the cannabinoid content present in so-called “THC-rich” strains of cannabis actually consists of THCA. This is irrelevant to most users since THCA is commonly smoked or vaporized, both of which are methods of use that convert THCA into THC.

Cannabis users have long warned that, if you don’t heat or “decarboxylate” your weed before use, it won’t get high. That’s because THCA, the primary component in cannabis before it’s heated, doesn’t have any psychoactive properties. Unless converted into THC via the application of heat or other means, the precursor cannabinoid THCA will not get you high.

Is THCA the same thing as weed?

For most purposes, it’s fine to view THCA as the same thing as conventional cannabis, but there are a few distinctions between the two that are worth teasing out. No matter how much THCA they contain, for instance, THCA products must contain less than 0.3% THC to remain compliant with federal law, an issue that does not apply to normal weed since it’s illegal by federal law anyway.

The fact that THCA flower and other THCA products contain less than 0.3% converted THC shouldn’t make any difference whatsoever to the average user. Just like you would with normal weed, you smoke THCA flower or heat it in another way if you want to get high. So, in the end, the only way that THCA and THC are different is how they are regulated at the federal level.

What are the effects of THCA for the elderly?

With the exception of needing to watch out for certain age-related side effects, THCA generally affects the elderly in the exact same way as it affects younger people. When used with a method that doesn’t cause it to convert into THC, THCA will provide relaxing, non-intoxicating effects that seniors might liken to the effects of CBD.

When heated above 232°F, however, THCA becomes THC, offering all the characteristic effects of “pot” that seniors might remember from their younger years. At low doses (under 10mg), heated THCA is likely to provide seniors with mental uplift and minor perceptual changes.

At higher doses (50mg+), converted THCA will provide seniors with a full alteration to their frame of mind, spurring creativity or even unleashing pent-up emotions. Elderly individuals should use converted THCA together or under supervision when taking high doses due to the unpredictable cognitive nature of the THC experience.

Benefits of THCA for seniors

Why might a senior citizen decide to try THCA in addition to or instead of CBD? Discover the five most-compelling benefits of THCA for seniors below:

  1. Relief from pain

Both THCA and its converted form, THC, have been used for pain for decades. It’s well-understood that individuals who use THCA for pain commonly report positive results, but scientists still aren’t sure how much of THC’s usefulness for pain might be chalked up to the placebo effect.

Whatever the science may be regarding the phenomenon, it’s a fact that most people who use THC for pain report relief. Even though it’s non intoxicating, THCA may even be worth exploring as a pain treatment in its unconverted form. 

  1. Help sleeping

Recent research confirms the general belief that using cannabis often helps you sleep. Scientists still aren’t sure whether THC or THCA has the most significant impact on sleep quality, but a clinical study from 2022 found that 71% of medical cannabis patients experienced improved sleep after beginning cannabis use and that 39% were able to discontinue use of other sleep medications.

It should be borne in mind that older research suggests THC use might disrupt REM sleep. While potentially problematic for long-term cognitive health, this “side effect” may inadvertently help seniors suffering from nightmares or night terrors.

  1. Mental relief and relaxation

Since the early days of medical cannabis treatment in Israeli nursing homes, it has been carefully noted that seniors often express considerable mental relief when they use cannabis. Some elderly individuals relate that they feel like they’re “flying” or that a great weight has been taken off their shoulders.

It’s even common for older, inflexible individuals to start stretching or going out for walks. A relief from pain coupled with a brightened perspective on life seems to help cannabis-using seniors recapture some of their lost vitality.

  1. Mood and attitude

Getting old is full of painful indignities, and only the most graceful among us bear it well. Even the most cantankerous seniors, however, usually cheer up at least a little bit when they use some THCA or THC cannabis. Whether it’s a simple matter of changing the sheets or convincing an elder to visit with their estranged family members, THCA might be just the thing to help seniors be somewhat more agreeable.

  1. Hospice care

Every life, no matter how long, eventually comes to an end. The pain relief and mental uplift provided by cannabis can help senior citizens smoothly exit the world in comfort and dignity. THCA or THC won’t provide the all-encompassing metanoia sometimes offered by psychedelics like psilocybin or LSD when used at the end of life, but it will make the process of dying less painful and overwhelming.

Is THCA safe for seniors?

There is no reason to believe that THCA is particularly unsafe for seniors, but older THCA users may be exposed to risks that do not exist for younger users of the cannabinoid. For those among us who have been alive the longest, after all, the general aches and pains of life become more severe, and new conditions arise that don’t affect younger people.

As a result, it is important to take a cautious choice when using THCA as an older person. When used in a way that causes THCA to convert into THC, products containing THCA will provide all the characteristic effects of the THC experience — both the desirable and the undesirable.

What are the side effects of THCA for elderly people?

Some of the side effects of using converted THCA (THC) that may affect senior citizens specifically include:

  • Exacerbation of any memory or cognitive issues
  • Difficulty paying attention to driving
  • Difficulty remembering everyday things and taking care of basic tasks
  • Dangerous interactions with blood thinners and other drugs

In all users, THC use can lead to absentmindedness, changes in mood, or an inability to concentrate. It’s not that these issues become more apparent when older people use THCA or THC but rather that the elderly live in different circumstances than younger cannabis users.

For instance, the older a person is, the more medications they are generally prescribed, and quite a few medications can interact negatively with THC. The blood-thinning medication warfarin, for instance, has been shown to have sometimes-fatal interactions with THC, underlining the fact that seniors must take extra care when using cannabis products.

The bottom line: Should seniors try THCA?

Yes, senior citizens are just as likely to benefit from the effects of THCA as anyone in any other age group. Given the circumstances life often places us in during our latter years, the pain-fighting and mentally relieving benefits of this intoxicating cannabinoid may be all-the-more useful.

That’s not to say elderly people can use THCA completely risk-free. It’s a fact, for instance, that THCA might interact with certain medications, and it can also negatively impact motor coordination and mental focus, issues that older individuals already struggle with.

With a full understanding of the risks involved, it’s clear that seniors have a lot to benefit from when it comes to THCA. One of the greatest benefits of THCA compared to THC is that you can buy it online — there’s no need to go to a dispensary and potentially contract a virus from other patrons.

Whether seniors live at home or in a retirement center, it’s easy to have THCA shipped straight to your door. Most seniors will be able to accomplish the task themselves on a smartphone, or assistance may be desired with individuals who aren’t particularly tech-savvy.

THCA for seniors FAQ

Brush up on more age-related THCA topics in the following FAQ section: 

Should senior citizens try THCA for anxiety?

If a elderly person is having issues with chronic anxiety, THCA is certainly worth a shot — either in its converted or unconverted forms. While still in the form of the carboxylic acid THCA, this cannabinoid might provide mild but non-intoxicating relief from anxiety. When converted into THC, on the other hand, the cannabinoid will offer a potent change in mentality that may entirely dissipate anxious symptoms for hours or even longer.

At what age is it safe to take THCA?

Experts generally suggest that it’s safe for individuals to start making their own choices regarding THCA between the ages of 18 and 21. The inherent safety of THCA and THC do not change over the course of a human lifespan, with many users enjoying the benefits of these cannabinoids for their entire lives.

Are THCA edibles safe for seniors?

Yes, THCA edibles are, generally speaking, just as safe for seniors as they are for individuals in any other age group. Always check to see if THCA or THC might interfere with any medications you may be taking, however,

Are THCA edibles safe for heart patients?

Taking THCA edibles may be unsafe for individuals, including seniors, who have cardiovascular issues. This cannabinoid can compete for the same enzymes used to digest certain prescription drugs used for heart conditions, so always check in with your doctor before you start taking THCA or THC if you are currently taking medication for a cardiovascular condition.

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