How CBDa Products Are Gaining Popularity in the Cannabis World
Posted on December 13th, 2020
Many people have come across or heard of CBD (Cannabidiol) and the many potential health benefits it can offer. However, most of them do not know there is a similar compound that potentially offers further benefits. Cannabidiolic acid or CBDa is one of the more interesting compounds of the cannabis plant in the market today. While it’s quite similar to cannabidiol, there are substantial differences between the two hemp constituents. This read will cover what cannabidiolic acid is and how it compares to cannabidiol. We will also cover the many potential benefits of CBDa products, and the research behind them.
What is CBDa?
A mature Cannabis sativa plant contains over 1000 chemical compounds. About 10% of them are cannabinoids. In addition to flavonoids, waxes, and terpenes, cannabis contains an array of carboxylic acids. These are compounds that contain carboxyl groups— oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon atoms.
Carboxylic acids are precursors of common cannabinoids. They change into cannabinoids when exposed to particular stimuli. For instance, CBGA is the chemical precursor to CBG (cannabigerol), and THCA is for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Similarly, CBDa is the precursor to cannabidiol. It transforms into CBD through a process called decarboxylation.
CBDa decarboxylation happens when heat removes carboxyl groups from the compound. This causes CBDa to change into CBD. The decarboxylation process happens when CBDa is exposed to temperatures of 110 degrees Celcius or higher. This means extracting CBDa from the cannabis plant is a tricky process.
Some think that the chemical precursor to CBD has more benefits. So putting in the extra work to extract the acid may be worth it. A 2013 Canadian study, for instance, suggested that CBDa is 1000x more active than CBD in the brain’s 5-HT1A receptors. This shows that CBDa could be substantially more effective in treating conditions like depression.
Even when CBDa is present in products that will cause it to change into CBD during use, this acid is an indicator of a premium extract. Most forms of extraction cause CBDa to change to cannabidiol. So this acid can only be extracted through processes that are heat-free, like cryogenic live resin extraction. Generally, cryogenic extraction processes are superior as they preserve the plant’s flavonoids and terpenes. Live resin extraction is currently the most advanced form of cryogenic cannabis extraction. Tanasi uses light hydrocarbon extraction to remove pure CBDa from the hemp plant while retaining the natural plant matter.
Even though CBDa is unstable, it does not turn into an intoxicating substance. It can only transform into CBD. So even if heat initiates the decarboxylation process, it will not make you high like THC can.
CBDa vs CBD
As mentioned earlier, CBDa is the chemical precursor to CBD. It transforms when exposed to temperatures over 110 degrees celsius. These two constituents of the cannabis plant have more similarities than differences in terms of their chemical structure and effects.
Chemically, the only difference between CBD and CBDa products is that the latter contains an extra carboxyl group. The effects of CBD and CBDa are also very similar. Many scientists believe CBDa has a higher affinity of the 5-HT1A receptors in the brain than CBD.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is the amount of research on CBDa. There are hundreds of preclinical and clinical studies on the potential benefits and effects of CBD. But there is hardly any research to determine the effects of CBDa.
For example, there don’t seem to be any clinical studies on CBDa’s effects on human beings. So all of our opinions on the compound are based on lab studies on animals. However, given how similar CBDa and CBD are, it is likely that much of the research on CBD applies to CBDa.
CBDa and CBD are non-intoxicating. Neither appear to have any substantial affinity to the brain’s CB1 and CB2 receptors (the main components of the ECS). Research has determined that CBDa has an affinity for the 5-HT1A receptors. It is likely that it interacts with the TRP receptors of the nervous system as well. These are also the main targets of cannabidiol.
How CBDa Products Work in the Body
Cannabidiolic acid seems to work within the same channels in the human body as CBD. As mentioned above, CBDa has a high affinity for the 5-HT1A receptors and likely interacts with other mechanisms that involve CBD metabolism. The effects of this cannabinoid vary widely, mostly depending on how you ingest it.
If you consume it orally, cannabidiolic acid has low bioavailability as it’s processed by the liver. When applied topically using a water-based formula, it has a high bioavailability and the effects stay localized to the administration site.
Cannabidiolic acid can also be inhaled. However, this involves heating the cannabinoid to temperatures that cause it to decarboxylate into cannabidiol. Theoretically, it’s possible to administer the cannabinoid using an oral spray. It would be like the mechanism in asthma inhalers. However, there are no such products in the market today. Smoking or vaping CBDa offers the most potent effects, but it transforms into CBD during the process.
The Potential Benefits of CBDa Products
Research on CBDa is limited and still in its infancy. But it is still possible to learn about this cannabinoid from the studies published to date. Here is some of the most compelling research on cannabidiolic acid so far. In addition to the potential health benefits, the studies imply:
Scientists have studied CBDa extensively for its potential antiemetic and anti-nausea properties. So far, all of the studies involve animal subjects. Researchers believe there’s reason to suspect that the cannabinoid can alleviate nausea and prevent nausea. Activating the brain’s 5-HT1A receptors could be the reason. However, they still need to conduct human studies to confirm this.
Epidiolex is the only cannabidiol-based epilepsy drug that the FDA has approved. GW Pharmaceuticals looked into the antiepileptic effects of CBDa when creating the product. According to the Epidiolex patent, the company found that cannabidiolic acid showed promise as an anticonvulsant. This was true whether on its own or along with CBD.
Potential Pain Benefits
Research has determined the effects of cannabidiolic acid on both inflammatory and neuropathic pain. These are the two primary forms of pain that humans experience. So far, the results of these studies are too few to guarantee results. So we will have to wait for more studies before concluding that CBDa helps alleviate pain.
Types of CBDa Products
Currently, there are a few forms of CBDs products on the market. However, most of them don’t provide substantial bioavailability, and this takes a toll on their potency. Generally, it is best to inhale the compound, so let’s discuss vaping.
Vape cartridges are perhaps the most effective and convenient hemp products. Keep in mind, CBDa in vape cartridges tends to become CBD during the heating/vaping process. However, this form of consuming CBDa still offers the highest bioavailability. And remember that vaping has been associated with serious lung injuries. So you should always exercise caution.
Most CBD-rich hemp flowers contain some degree of cannabidiolic acid. Unless the CBD-rich flower has undergone decarboxylation, it should contain more CBDa than CBD. Most CBDa flower consumption methods entail heating it until it undergoes decarboxylation. But again, the differences in the benefits of CBD in comparison to CBDa seem to be minimal.
Other CBDa Products
It is also possible to put CBDa into creams, tinctures, capsules and other forms. These products are emerging as the most popular as they don’t require any kind of smoking. For example, Tanasi’s hemp products focus specifically on including substantial amounts of CBDa. Tanasi’s latest GOLD tincture is a result of redoubling efforts to extract the most pure and complete compounds possible.
Should You Try CBDa Products?
CBDa, the chemical precursor to CBD, is the highest level of purity in the cannabidiol industry. While most extraction methods fail to avoid decarboxylation, some companies like Tanasi manage to do so. That is why CBDa is indicative of high-level tech methods and pure hemp extracts.
As we learn more, we begin to understand that THC/CBD aren’t the only beneficial compounds in the cannabis plant. A better understanding of CBDa and its benefits is vital to unlocking the mysteries of the cannabis plant. So if you are interested in making the most of the hemp/cannabis plant’s possibilities, try CBDa. But be sure to discuss it with your doctor first. In some cases, CBD products could interact unexpectedly with certain medications.
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