What is CBD? What is CBDA? Learn CBDA benefits, CBD benefits and how to look for the best CBDA oil before you buy. Learn the difference between CBD vs CBDA. Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa), chemical precursor to cannabidiol (CBD) can interact with systems in our bodies and produce benefits of its own.
Everything You Need to Know about CBDA.
CBD vs CBDA: Surely you’ve heard of CBD. But now we have CBDA? What is CBDA? CBDA benefits, are there any? Also, what is the best CBDA oil out there? You’ve likely seen CBD 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 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 CBDA and even CBD before you buy a bottle. We will go over CBDA benefits as well as CBD benefits and more.
But before we talk about what CBDA is, let’s give a quick overview of the more popular cannabinoids, THC, and CBD.
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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 causes the effects of marijuana (THC), CBD, CBDA, and other cannabinoid products users have come to enjoy.
Cannabinoids interact with the human body through receptors in the endocannabinoid system or 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:
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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 is known as the entourage effect.
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Why Are THC & CBD More Popular?
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 recently burst onto the scene.
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 you can also find it in oils, tinctures, capsules or softgels, and edibles like a CBD gummy.
On to CBD.
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), 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 smoked or vaped, or slowly if the plant material is left to dry in the sun or even at room temperature.
Cannabidiolic acid can, therefore, be thought of as raw CBD. CBDA is most often found in the live or raw hemp plants bred for high CBD levels.
Cannabidiolic acid is often 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. People are wondering about the differences between CBD and CBDA and if CBDA is better than CBD.
So is it?
Let’s take a look.
The Differences Between CBDA & CBD
The major difference between CBDA and CBD is actually the amount of heat applied to the substance.
As we mentioned, the main difference is that CBDA is a precursor to CBD. You create CBD by heating CBDA or raw CBD.
While research in CBDA is in much earlier stages than even CBD, we know that they share some similarities.
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.
CBD and CBDA are 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 closely involved in regulating our mood, sleep, anxiety, and even nausea.
CBD is noted to help with things like anxiety, depression, inflammation, and even a rare form of childhood epilepsy. You see CBD in such a wide variety of health supplements because of its versatility and because it has been studied much more than CBDA.
Meanwhile, CBDA is in the 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 further researched as an anti-nausea drug, with one study finding CBDA more effective at reducing nausea than CBD.
UPDATE 1/12/2022: An article was written on Forbes.com “Study Finds Cannabis Compounds Prevent Infection By Covid-19 Virus” shares some new, interesting findings of CBDA and mentions – “…researchers found that two cannabinoid acids commonly found in hemp varietals of cannabis, cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, also known as researchers found that two cannabinoid acids commonly found in hemp varietals of cannabis, cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, also known as CBDA, can bind to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. By binding to the spike protein, the compounds can prevent the virus from entering cells and causing infection, potentially offering new avenues to prevent and treat the disease.” The article goes on to say – “Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2,” the researchers wrote in an abstract of the study.”
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What Are The Potential Benefits?
The reason that cannabinoids like THC and CBD have been studied so much more than CBDA is because 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.
Recent CBDA Research
But recent research shows that raw CBDA oil has its own unique potential. One study showed that CBDA could act as an effective anti-inflammatory agent.
In this study, CBDA was found to be more proficient than THC at blocking COX-2, an enzyme 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 displayed “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, enough evidence gives scientists and avid supplement users great optimism.
For those of you who are just dipping your toes into the CBD/health supplement waters, CBDA may indeed offer another good option to add to your health and wellness routine. CBDA is thought to be risk-free and comes without any high or potential risks related to THC (such as if your company drug tests).
Raw CBDA might be what you need to optimize your wellness routine!
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CBDA vs CBD: Major Differences You Should Know
When you first think about cannabis derivatives, you probably think of two different components: THC and CBD. Most people are familiar with how both of these substances work. THC produces the “high” associated with cannabis use, although it also has some therapeutic applications. CBD, on the other hand, produces no “high” and has its own separate benefits.
You might not be aware that there are more than a hundred other compounds in the cannabis plant. One of these is Cannabidiolic acid, also known as CBDA. So, what’s the difference between CBDA vs. CBD? Like CBD, CBDA is found naturally in the cannabis plant, both in its hemp and marijuana variations. In fact, CBDA is the precursor chemical that produces CBD.
Even though these are two very similar compounds, important differences between them need to be discussed. Here, we’ll explain why you might want to use CBDA vs. CBD, as well as what benefits you can gain from both compounds. Let’s take a closer look!
What is Cannabidiolic acid?
Cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA for short, is a natural compound that the cannabis plant produces. CBDA is a relatively recent discovery and was not even isolated until 1996. It’s primarily found in raw, unprocessed cannabis plants.
The main difference between CBDA and CBD is that CBDA is a precursor chemical to Cannabidiol (CBD), similar but not acidic. What that means is that it’s a natural compound found in the raw plant. As with many other cannabinoids, CBDA undergoes a transformation when cannabis is processed. When the plant is heated, cured, or dried, acidic compounds break down into new chemicals. This is the process that produces large amounts of CBD from CBDA.
In raw cannabis, by contrast, you’ll find a large quantity of CBDA. You can also find it in most raw hemp, unprocessed cannabis products. For instance, raw hemp oil is rich in CBDA. This is also true for regular CBD oils that haven’t been filtered or otherwise processed.
Is it the Same as CBD?
CBD and CBDA are both cannabinoids. This is a class of chemicals that are found in the cannabis plant. In fact, they’re also found in the human body and are used by the endocannabinoid system to regulate normal bodily functions. This is why cannabinoids are often considered healthy dietary supplements. In total, the cannabis plant contains at least 113 cannabinoids. However, the exact concentration will depend on the type of plant and whether or not the plant has been decarboxylated.
What is Decarboxylation?
Decarboxylation sounds like a complex process, so let’s break it down as simply as possible. As we mentioned, a major difference between CBDA vs. CBD is that CBDA is an acid. This is because there’s a chemical chain called “carboxyl” attached to the molecule. When the cannabis is left to cure, the carboxyl chain will slowly break down. When this happens, CBDA and other acidic cannabinoids lose their acidity. They also become more active. Decarboxylation can be accelerated by other processes, like heating in particular.
In live, growing cannabis plants, CBD is only found in relatively small quantities. By drying or heating the plant, producers can convert the CBDA into CBD. However, one thing is the same between these two compounds: both of them are non-intoxicating. Neither one will get you “high,” which means they’re safe to take before work or even before driving.
The Endocannabinoid System
Cannabinoids all affect your body through your natural endocannabinoid system. This system activates neurotransmitters, which can help moderate your brain function. It also helps regulate many other bodily systems. However, the effects of CBDA vs. CBD are different since CBD is active and CBDA is not.
What Benefits Does CBDA Offer?
Okay, we’ve talked a bit about the science of how CBDA works. But what does it actually do when you ingest it? The short answer is that we know a lot less about the effects of CBDA compared to the effects of CBD. The reason is that CBD has been studied for many years, while scientists are only just beginning to study the effects of CBDA.
Why the lack of study? The simple answer is that scientists didn’t think that cannabinoids had any effect in their acidic, non-active form until very recently. As a result, they didn’t bother to run many studies on CBDA and other inactive cannabinoids.
Back to 2008
All of this started to change in 2008. That year, some researchers noticed that CBDA had a very similar structure to commonly-used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This class of drugs includes everyday painkillers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These researchers followed up on their discoveries by investigating whether CBDA actually worked the same way as common NSAIDs. Amazingly, they found that CBDA inhibits COX-2, the same body chemical that’s inhibited by NSAIDs.
Can Help with Inflammation and More
However, CBDA isn’t just used to reduce inflammation. You can also use it to treat nausea and anxiety. In this case, there’s a strong similarity between CBDA vs. CBD. In fact, CBDA is actually more effective. It’s more than a thousand times more effective than CBD in activating a serotonin receptor that reduces nausea and anxiety. This effect is even more pronounced in chemotherapy patients using ondansetron (OND) to treat nausea.
Furthermore, CBDA doesn’t act directly on the endocannabinoid system. Instead, by inhibiting COX-2 activity, it has an indirect effect. It also acts on 5-HT receptors, which influence serotonin production. Serotonin production is essential to overall health, including reduced anxiety and general well-being.
CBDa vs CBD
Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) is the chemical precursor to cannabidiol (CBD) in cannabis plants. For decades it’s been seen as an inactive stepping stone in the process to create CBD, but now scientists have found that it can interact with systems in our bodies and produce benefits of its own. Studies show that it may interact with serotonin receptors and prostaglandin releasing enzymes.
What is CBDa and how is it different to CBD?
Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) and cannabidiol (CBD) are both cannabinoids found in plants of the Cannabis Sativa L. species. They contain over a hundred cannabinoids which they produce during their lifetime through a series of chemical reactions. Most cannabinoids come in two main forms: the acid form and the ‘active’ form. The acid forms of cannabinoids are unstable and over time, or if exposed to heat, they decarboxylate (remove the acid molecule) to become active.
However, during the lifecycle of the plants other reactions occur that transform cannabinoids into different types. For example, Cannabigerolic acid (CBGa) is among the first to be present in the plant and is often referred to as ‘the mother of all cannabinoids’. As the young plants develop, CBGa is changed to produce the main three acidic cannabinoids, one of which is CBDa. If the plant matter is heated, an acidic carboxyl group of atoms is lost from the CBDa molecule and it becomes CBD.
Most raw cannabis plant material contains very little CBD unless it’s been left for a long time or exposed to heat. As a result, in most commercial CBD oil production processes, the raw material is heated to convert the CBDa into CBD. The process is rarely 100% successful, so most CBD products contain a large amount of CBD and a smaller amount of CBDa.
As scientists have published their findings about CBDa, brands who produce hemp products have seen its potential as a food supplement. Consequently, now you’re more likely to see CBDa mentioned on the label of CBD products. You may see ‘CBD + CBDa’ or even ‘raw’ hemp oils that contain more CBDa and less CBD.
Does CBDa provide different benefits to CBD?
Yes, CBDa produces different benefits to CBD because it interacts with systems in your body in different ways:
Cyclooxygenase enzymes – CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system by blocking the enzymes that breakdown the endocannabinoid anandamide. Anandamide is an essential signalling molecule that regulates and balances many body systems. By blocking these enzymes, CBD raises the levels of anandamide, allowing your ECS to restore any imbalances in your body more quickly.
CBDa doesn’t bind with the same enzymes; instead, it interacts with the cyclooxygenase enzyme known as COX-2. These enzymes are responsible for producing the chemical prostaglandins.
Recent theories suggest that if CBD is blocking the first set of anandamide-metabolising enzymes, COX-2 provides an alternate pathway to break down anandamide. If both CBD and CBDa are present, both pathways are blocked and your anandamide levels are even more likely to increase, adding to the amount that can build up for use elsewhere in your body.
Serotonin receptors – Some studies have also found that CBDa is more effective than CBD at activating the 5-HT1A receptors that interact with serotonin. When activated, these receptors bind with serotonin and produce effects that support your general wellbeing.
While both CBD and CBDa can do this, studies have shown that in this area, the effect of CBDa is much more significant.
Taking CBDa and CBD together
While CBDa should be viewed as a useful cannabinoid in its own right, most of the effects it produces appear to work well alongside those of CBD. There are several ways you can consume both:
- Raw hemp oils – These are oils that have been made without the use of heat. Because no decarboxylation takes place, they usually contain higher levels of other cannabinoids including CBDa and slightly less CBD.
- Full-spectrum products – These contain all the cannabinoids present in the hemp plant, including CBD, CBDa and THC. Usually, they’re CBD-rich with only traces of everything else.
- Broad-spectrum products – These contain all the cannabinoids from the hemp plant except for THC. As with full-spectrum products, the most abundant cannabinoid is CBD.
- Taking hemp tea alongside CBD products – Hemp tea is made from raw hemp flowers, leaves, stems and seeds. It’s usually dried and milled so it can be easily infused with hot water to make a tasty brew. Because it’s had minimal processing and no decarboxylation it’s rich in CBDa and contains no CBD. Most teas range between 1% CBDa and 4% CBDa. If you already take CBD products regularly, adding hemp tea to your routine provides an excellent additional source of CBDa.
Despite recent research expanding our understanding of the potential benefits of CBDa, CBD still remains the best option in terms of overall general effects. However, CBDa has a lot to offer and works particularly well when used as a companion cannabinoid and taken with CBD. Many products, like those made with full or broad-spectrum extracts, already have a useful blend of the two but if you want to top up on CBDa adding a cup of hemp tea to your day is a great way to start.
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Tom Russell writes extensively about CBD oil and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.