Everything You Need to Know About CBDA
Surely you’ve heard of CBD. You’ve likely seen products on shelves in stores near you. CBD is everywhere. Now, CBDA and other cannabinoids are emerging on the health supplement scene.
No, CBDA is not a typo. Also no: CBDA is not interchangeable with CBD. They’re different compounds, although they do indeed have a close relationship.
In this post, we’re going to take a deep dive into CBDA and tell you everything you need to know about this cannabinoid before you purchase a bottle.
But before we talk about what CBDA is, let’s give a quick overview of the more popular cannabinoids, THC, and CBD.
A Quick Overview Of Cannabinoids
To get to CBDA, we must first discuss the most well-known cannabinoids on the health and wellness scene: THC and CBD. Actually, let’s back it up even a step further — what is a cannabinoid?
A cannabinoid is a naturally-occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. There are currently over 110 known cannabinoids, with more likely to be discovered as studies continue. Cannabis really is a remarkable plant!
These cannabinoids are what cause the effects of marijuana (THC), CBD, CBDA, and other cannabinoid product users have come to enjoy. But how?
Cannabinoids interact with the human body through receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is actually a fairly recently-discovered system that regulates our homeostasis and health functions like mood, anxiety, stress, sleep, inflammation, pain, and more.
Within this ECS, there are two primary receptors: CB1 and CB2. While CB1 primarily binds to the brain and nervous system, the CB2 receptor mainly interacts with our immune system. Our body naturally produces its own endocannabinoids, but when they are out of balance, we feel things like anxiety, stress, other mood disorders, and may even have trouble sleeping.
Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant like THC, CBD, CBDA, and others, can mimic our body’s natural endocannabinoids. They bind to our CB1 and CB2 receptors to produce their many potential health benefits.
The various cannabinoids produce different benefits because they each have unique characteristics and bind to our receptors differently. Often, cannabinoids work even better in tandem with other cannabinoids and compounds, a phenomenon known as the entourage effect.
Why Are THC & CBD More Popular Than CBDA?
Mainly because more is known about them. Research on CBDA is still in its very early stages, and it is more difficult to extract CBDA than THC or CBD (more on that later).
THC has been used medicinally and recreationally for centuries, while CBD has burst onto the scene in recent years.
Despite its recent boom and popularity, a stigma still exists about CBD. This is due to its relationship with THC and marijuana. But despite sharing an origin, CBD and THC perform different functions.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound found in Cannabis Sativa. In short, THC is the compound that gets you high. THC is most often consumed by smoking strains of marijuana that are rich in THC, but it can also be found in oils, tinctures, capsules, and edibles.
Meanwhile, CBD, or cannabidiol, is found in the same plant, but is actually non-psychoactive, meaning CBD will not get you high while producing its therapeutic benefits. For this reason, it has become popular. CBD is often extracted from CBD-rich strains of cannabis, like hemp. It is typically seen in oils, tinctures, supplements, extracts, food and beverage products, gummies, and seemingly everything.
CBD products that have high THC content come from marijuana plants, while the majority of CBD products you see on the market (and the only ones technically allowed by the FDA) are those that have a THC content of 0.3% or less.
So what about CBDA? Where does it fit into the crowded cannabinoid market?
What Is CBDA?
All cannabinoids in cannabis and hemp come from cannabigerolic acid (CBGa), known as the mother of all cannabinoids.
Plant enzymes then convert the CBGa into a combination of the three major cannabinoid precursor compounds: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabichromenic acid (CBCA), and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). The combination will depend on the unique cannabis strain they are derived from.
CBDA is a non-psychoactive compound that serves as a precursor to CBD. More specifically, CBDA is decarboxylated to create CBD, meaning it is heated. This can happen instantly if it is smoked or vaped, or slowly if the plant material is left to dry in the sun or even at room temperature.
CBDA can, therefore, be thought of as raw CBD. CBDA is most often found in the live or raw hemp plants that are bred for high CBD levels.
Most often, CBDA is consumed as CBD, but it can also be beneficial in its raw form. CBDA oil can be consumed or absorbed via tinctures, raw cannabis juice, topical creams, and raw CBDA oil.
To date, CBDA has attracted much less public attention and is seen less on the market. However, the raw juicing cannabis trend is bringing CBDA into the spotlight, and people are wondering about the differences between CBD and CBDA as well as if CBDA is potentially better than CBD.
So is it? Let’s take a look.
The Differences Between CBDA & CBD
As we mentioned, the main difference is that CBDA is a precursor to CBD. You create CBD by heating up CBDA, or raw CBD.
While research in CBDA is in much earlier stages than even CBD, we know that they share some similarities.
First, they are both non-psychoactive, meaning users won’t get high or stoned. This is because CBD and CBDA both do not directly interact with our endocannabinoid receptors.
Second, CBD and CBDA are both thought to cause their signature effects by activating our 5-HT1A serotonin receptors. You’ve likely heard of serotonin, as it is a vital neurotransmitter in our brains that is intimately involved in regulating our mood, sleep, anxiety, and even nausea.
CBD is noted for its ability to help with things like anxiety, depression, inflammation, and even a rare form of childhood epilepsy. The reason you see CBD in such a wide variety of health supplements is because of its versatility, but also because it has been studied much more than CBDA.
Meanwhile, CBDA is in very early stages of research, but shows just as much, if not more promise than CBD. For example, one study found that CBDA produces antidepressant effects on rats at doses 10 to 100 times lower than CBD.
This is due to CBDA’s relationship with serotonin receptors. For this same reason, CBDA is being further researched as an anti-nausea drug, with one study finding CBDA more effective at reducing nausea than CBD.
What Are The Potential Benefits of CBDA?
The reason that cannabinoids like THC and CBD have been studied so much more than CBDA is that CBDA and other acidic forms of cannabinoids are not considered to be pharmacologically active. This means that they don’t affect the ECS in the same way that their decarboxylated forms do. Therefore, most research has focused on CBD, instead of CBDA.
But recent research shows that raw CBDA oil has its own unique potential. One study showed that CBDA can act as an effective anti-inflammatory agent.
In this study, CBDA was found to even be more proficient than THC at blocking COX-2, which is an enzyme that is produced when inflammation is present. The same study found that the acidic component of CBDA plays a vital role in its ability to inhibit COX-2.
Another study found that CBDA was a thousand times more powerful than CBD for anti-nausea and anti-anxiety effects. In this study on animal models, CBDA was shown to display “significantly greater potency at inhibiting vomiting in shrews and nausea in rats” when compared to CBD.
Part of the issue with CBDA when it comes to potential medical use is that it is an unstable compound. This is evident when you consider that it gradually decarboxylates even just at room temperature. However, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the cannabis scientist who first synthesized THC and CBD, said at the 2019 CannMed conference that his research team discovered a way to transform unstable CBDA into a more stable compound.
Additionally, CBDA appears to share most of the benefits CBD users seek, such as anti-anxiety properties and more.
Is CBDA Better Than CBD?
Well, until we have concrete evidence from human testing, it’s too early to say! However, early research suggests that raw CBD oil can be just as, if not more effective at treating things like depression, nausea, and inflammation. It may also have special properties that CBD does not, making it an option for different treatments.
CBDA shows promise as an anticonvulsant, and may even have antibacterial, antioxidant, and cancer-preventing potential (specifically breast cancer). So while “better” is a hard judgment to come by, there is enough early evidence to suggest that CBDA has its own distinct qualities that may set it apart from CBD in certain areas.
As you can see, CBDA does indeed have its own unique potential in the growing cannabinoid industry. While research into much of CBDA’s potential is still in the early stages, there is enough evidence to give scientists and avid supplement users great optimism.
For those of you who are just dipping their toes into the CBD/health supplement waters, CBDA may indeed offer another good option to add to your health and wellness routine. CBDA is risk-free and comes without any of the high or potential risks related to THC (such as if your company drug tests).
Raw CBDA just might be what you need to optimize!