Have you heard of CBDA? CBDA stands for cannabidiolic acid. It’s one of the over 100 cannabinoids present in cannabis and hemp plants. CBDA is actually the raw form of cannabdiol (CBD), which has exploded in popularity in recent years and is found in the raw cannabis plant. The benefits of this compound are only just beginning to be understood. Here’s everything you need to know about CBDA.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis and hemp plants. These chemicals interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system to produce potential physiological and recreational effects. CBD and THC are two of the most widely known cannabinoids. THC produces the feeling of being “high,” while CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system differently to produce potential benefits.
Both of these cannabinoids – and all of the other cannabinoids present in cannabis and hemp plants – come from the primary cannabinoid, CBGA. CBGA, or cannabigerolic acid, is often referred to as the “mother” of all cannabinoids because without this compound, none of the other cannabinoids would exist. It’s the compound that converts to cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA), which are the three main branches of cannabinoids.
These compounds are eventually converted into CBD, THC, and CBC, respectively, through a process called decarbonization. Decarboxylation occurs by exposing the cannabis plant to heat or drying it out over time. During this process, CBDA converts to CBD. In other words, CBDA is the raw form or predecessor to CBD just as CBGA is the precursor to CBDA.
What Does CBDA Do?
If CBDA is just the precursor to CBD, you might be wondering if taking it has any benefits over taking the more well-known CBD. This compound is typically taken in the form of raw cannabis juice, tinctures, and capsules. Or, some users just eat the raw plants themselves.
The raw compound, CBDA, seems to affect the body’s endocannabinoid system differently than CBD. When you take most cannabinoids, they bind directly with the CB1 or CB2 receptors in your endocannabinoid system. However, CBDA works in a slightly different way. It blocks the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme, which produces prostaglandins that promote inflammation and pain when you’re sick or injured. A certain amount of COX-2 is healthy, as it signals your body to repair itself from injury or illness. However, some people have elevated levels of this enzyme, resulting in chronic inflammation. Blocking this enzyme may result in the body experiencing less inflammation and associated symptoms, such as pain and fatigue.
What Does Research Say About CBDA?
Quality research on CBDA is scarce. Most current studies focus on the effects of CBD, not the raw form of the compound. However, some researchers are beginning to look into the potential benefits of CBDA, in particular. Here’s what some of the early research has to say about CBDA:
- Nausea and vomiting. A 2012 study looked at the potential anti-nausea and vomiting effects of CBDA in rodents. The study found that CBDA may be more effective than CBD at easing symptoms in the rodents. CBDA appeared to activate the 5-HT1A receptor in the rodents’ brains. This receptor is responsible for the neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is well-known for its role in depression, but it also has an impact on nausea and vomiting.
- A 2008 study found that CBDA appears to work similarly to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). NSAIDS, which include common over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen, are taken to treat pain and inflammation. Researchers found that CBDA blocks an enzyme called COX-2. This enzyme is responsible for producing prostaglandins that promote inflammation and pain in the body and is the same enzyme NSAIDS target. Interestingly, researchers found that CBDA interacted with this enzyme while THCA did not.
- A 2014 study found that CBDA may show anti-cancer potential. Researchers found that it may suppress the metastasis of cancer cells, which is when cancer cells travel to another part of the body. Researchers believe this effect had to do with the suppression of the COX-2 enzyme, which is elevated in cancer cells.
- A 2019 study found that CBDA acted as an anticonvulsant in rodent models. CBDA significantly increased the temperature threshold at which the mice had a tonic-clonic seizure.
CBDA is the raw form of CBD. Like CBD, it may hold potential health benefits. However, more research – especially in human clinical trials – needs to be performed.
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