Chances are that you’ve heard of THC and CBD – the most abundant and well-known cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant that interact with the body and may provide potential health benefits ranging from stress to pain relief. There are more than a hundred compounds that can be found in the cannabis plant, with one of them being cannabidiolic acid (CBDa). CBD has especially been well researched for its potential therapeutic properties that may help manage symptoms of anxiety disorders, inflammation, and a host of other conditions. Comparatively, CBDa has received significantly less attention from the media, scientific community, and the public, despite it being the antecedent to the formation of CBD and showing promise in preclinical studies. So, what is CBDa? How does it work? Is CBDa better than CBD? How does CBDa function, and what are its benefits? Here’s everything to know about CBDa, including how it differentiates from CBD.
What Is CBDa?
Before we can compare CBDa vs CBD, we need to have an understanding of what CBDa really is. All major cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis stem from a ‘parent’ cannabinoid referred to as cannabigerolic acid (CBGa). Depending on the plant enzymes activated for each strain, CBGa is converted to three distinct precursor compounds: cannabichromenic acid (CBCa), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa), and cannabidiolic acid (CBDa).
Cannabidiolic acid or CBDa is among the several naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the flowers, stems, and leaves of cannabis varieties like Sativa, Indica, or Hemp. After the formation of CBDa, it is changed into CBD through thermal decarboxylation. The decarboxylation process is where CBDa converts to CBD when passed through a heat source, making the molecule lose the acidic carboxyl group. Decarboxylation refers to when hydrogen and carbon dioxide are eliminated from the CBDa, thereby altering cannabinoid properties. In most cases, the process happens naturally with time or when the plant is exposed to heat and light from the sun or smoked. CBDa can be considered to be the raw form of CBD.
Like CBD, CBDa interacts with the endocannabinoid system as a cannabinoid and may provide a range of health benefits from mood enhancement to pain relief. CBDa is essentially the acid state of CBD and has the same signature as THC and THCa. Despite CBDa being abundant in its ‘raw’ cannabis form, most users aren’t exposed to CBDa, since it is typically converted to CBD by the majority of consumption methods. If you want to consume CBDa, you can consider using topicals, tinctures, and capsules instead. Some may opt to juice raw cannabis to get their daily dosage of CBDa.
CBDa vs CBD
Although CBD and CBDa have a natural connection and are derived from the same cannabis plant, they are distinctly different. Both CBD and CBDa are cannabinoids, natural compounds found in the cannabis plant. It is estimated that there are 113 cannabinoids that are produced by cannabis. Still, the concentration of every cannabinoid varies depending on the plant variety and whether the plant has been decarboxylated.
CBD is found in very small quantities in growing cannabis plants. Actually, much of CBD exists as CBDa, and it’s only when the cannabis plant is dried, cut, and subjected to heat that CBDa converts to CBD. These cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, a regulatory network that changes the release of brain neurotransmitters that ensure body functions are kept in balance. However, CBDa is an acidic cannabinoid that affects the endocannabinoid system differently compared to decarboxylated cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.
CBDa vs CBD – Potential Health Benefits
Though the majority of cannabinoids bind with either CB1 or CB2 receptors directly, CBDa doesn’t function in the same way. Rather, it corresponds with the ECS by impeding the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme. The COX-2 enzyme is affiliated with inflammation after an infection or injury, so by inhibiting COX-2 enzymes, CBDa may have the ability to alleviate inflammation and its associated pain.
In a rodent research study, scientists discovered that CBDa may affect serotonin levels, a chemical that nerve cells produce to assist in neurotransmission between body cells. Serotonin is essential to core human functionalities such as digestion, eating, sleeping, motor skills, and emotions. Having healthy levels of serotonin and an efficient ECS may lead to better health. The ECS promotes homeostasis in the body and keeps various functions in balance, allowing the body to thrive and aid you in feeling better.
Further research on CBD found that people with social anxiety were better able to perform public speaking tasks that have been simulated after consuming the cannabinoid. While research into the effects of CBDa on depression are still at a preclinical stage, studies may suggest that CBDa could evoke antidepressant effects on rodents at a dosage that’s much lower than that of CBD.
There are several stressors, including chemotherapy and radiation, that activate the body to produce excess serotonin, which causes vomiting and nausea. Nausea is typically harder to control compared to vomiting, which can be kept under control with medication. Many cancer patients undergoing treatment claim that nausea causes more distress compared to vomiting, given how nausea is more of a continuous sensation.
Research by scientists has shown that CBDa may influence the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) receptors related to serotonin. This suggests a potential application for CBDa as a means to help manage chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting and any other conditions inducing these types of symptoms. CBDa may also provide anti-proliferative, anti-tumor, antibacterial, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory effects. It may also show to have a positive effect on seizures, but more research is needed.
While CBDa research isn’t as robust as CBD, early studies may show that the compound could promote health and wellness similar to that of CBD.
Current Research on CBDa vs CBD
CBDa has been on the radar for researchers for around a decade now. A study conducted in 2008 focused on the inhibitor qualities of COX-2 and CBDa’s potential as an anti-inflammatory agent. The study team compared the molecular structure of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are used for treating inflammation with the molecular structure of CBDa. They discovered their chemical structure was similar, known to impede COX-2 receptors. This study indicated that CBDa may show some promise as an anti-inflammatory agent.
In the same manner that it may be used for controlling nausea, CBDa may act as an anticonvulsant. Studies show that CBDa may have more potential at binding to the 5-HT receptors than CBD. Among the underlying reasons for this is that CBDa has a higher bioavailability than CBD, allowing the body to metabolize the compound in less time and with less effort. The receptor affinity also means that CBDa has the potential of fighting depression. This is because CBDa might interact with the 5-HT receptors the same way as SSRI antidepressants work. It was also found that to achieve a greater therapeutic effect, less CBDa may be needed than CBD.
To date, there’s little evidence about the medical benefits of CBDa in humans since most of the studies are non-human preclinical studies. More research needs to be conducted, but it doesn’t change the fact that CBDa may show promise similar to that of CBD when it comes to its potential to help manage inflammation, vomiting, and nausea, and potentially reduce tumors and seizures in animals.
Future of CBDa
Scientists have only been studying the benefits of CBDa for a brief period, so when it comes to its future, many variables are still unknown. For this reason, the compound may not be acknowledged by many. It may be a more unstable compound when compared to CBD due to decarboxylation. More research needs to be conducted to have a comprehensive understanding of CBDa, but scientists are pitting CBDa to have a pretty bright future when it comes to its potential benefits.
Smoking cannabis or hemp will transform CBDa to CBD naturally. So if you want to consume CBDa directly, you can consider ingestible oils, creams, tinctures, and other cannabis topicals. You can also experience it in homemade beverages and food. Regardless of how you decide to consume the CBDa, make sure to talk with your physician before adding it to your regimen.
At Tanasi, our academic research has shown that when combined, CBDA helps enhance the absorption of CBD and increases the potency and duration of its effects. This is why we use a 1:1 ratio of CBDa to CBD to help maximize the benefits that CBD has to offer.
Where Can I Buy CBDa?
After understanding CBDa vs CBD’s distinction, it is evident that CBDa may offer a few different benefits than CBD. You may find CBDa mainly in its ‘raw’ form in CBD products. These include raw CBD oils, CBD flowers, raw hemp extracts, or whole plant juices. Pastes, oils, and tinctures with a mixture of CBDa and CBD are increasingly becoming popular. So if you are looking to add CBDa to your wellness routine, be sure to check out our full spectrum CBD products here at Tanasi.
While more CBDa research is still needed, it appears that CBDa may offer benefits of its own. Both CBDa and CBD have a relationship that may need further exploration, but so far it’s evident that they work together to provide many potential benefits. As cannabinoid research continues, it’s integral to distinguish each one’s individual traits. CBDa has shown that it may be just as important as CBD and could help with its range of potentially beneficial properties.