Cannabis has been cultivated and used by ancient civilizations since history has been recorded. Since approximately 2500 BC, China has used cannabis preparations to treat rheumatic pain, constipation, malaria and gynecological disorders. India also used the plant for its medicinal qualities, and this spread to Egypt, Rome and Greece. Even with its long history of use, new research on the benefits of cannabis is being released regularly.
Research on cannabinoids had been stymied in the United States since 1930 when The Federal Bureau of Narcotics warned of increasing abuse of cannabis with high levels of THC, and states started criminalizing possession of cannabis . When the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 categorized marijuana as a Schedule I substance, research on cannabis stopped in the US. It made procurement of cannabis for even academic purposes very limited. However, the passing of the USDA 2018 Farm Bill enabled cannabis with low THC (<0.3%) to be federally legal to grow, and research on cannabinoids easier to conduct. Now, research is accelerating on the benefits of cannabinoids such as CBD and CBDA and their contribution to health and wellness.
What Is CBDA and How Does It Differ from CBD?
While CBD, or cannabidiol, has gotten a lot of press in recent years, there’s a similar component present in the cannabis plant that interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA, is also a non-intoxicating compound linked to anti-inflammatory support and improvements in mood and anxiety*.
First discovered in 1955, CBDA is the raw precursor to CBD before it is decarboxylated—a process which occurs when CBDA is heated and converted into CBD. Decarboxylation eliminates most of the CBDA in the plant, leaving only trace amounts.
You may not have noticed, but most CBD products still contain a slight amount of CBDA. This occurs since some CBD gets left in its raw form during decarboxylation when it is not completely heated.
The Advantages of CBDA
To put it in a familiar context, think about raw fruits, vegetables or milk. They’re cooked and highly processed counterparts (such as spinach, beans, cocoa, cow milk) have a different make-up and nutrient density. It is the same with CBDA and CBD. CBD is typically extracted from cannabis using solvents that must be removed or remediated. This remediation strips the CBD of other valuable compounds.
Studies have shown CBDA to potentially have similar effects as CBD, help the absorption of CBD, and be more bioavailable or up to 1000 times stronger than CBD in certain applications.
How CBDA Works
Unlike CBD, which has a high affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, CBDA is thought to reduce inflammation* via inhibiting the Cox-2 enzyme similarly to ibuprofen. CBDA also interacts with CNS-5HT, a receptor linked with nausea, serotonin and depression. This makes CBD and CBDA a great combination as they may produce the same benefits in different ways.
The Benefits of CBDA
Studies on CBDA’s possible health benefits are ongoing, but a growing body of evidence supports its anti-inflammatory properties. Specifically, CBDA’s inhibition of Cox-2 enzyme has been shown to correspond with anti-inflammatory responses. Another interesting finding was that CBDA has better anti-inflammatory properties than THCA, the precursor to THC.
In addition, research has shown it could provide a number of benefits, including relieving nausea and vomiting, through the serotonin (5-HT1a) receptor. Serotonin is involved in important physiological responses such as sleep, arousal, appetite, temperature comfort, pain, emotion and clear thinking/focus. This receptor is the target for the pharmaceutical industry antidepressant medication research and product offerings.
Can COVID-19 Variants Be Blocked by CBDA?
In January 2022, a sensationalized story reached the front pages. Headlines were claiming that CBD may help the immune system prepare for a stronger response against COVID-19. The reports followed the publication of a modest lab study.
More recently, CBDA and CBGA were found to be effective at preventing COVID-19 from entering healthy cells, in a more extensive 2022 study. According to the researchers, the findings are preliminary and must be verified in closely controlled human clinical trials. CBDA anti-COVID-19 advantages are, however, exceedingly speculative and tentative. Cannabinoid medication is not a substitute for contemporary coronavirus prevention or treatment.
CBDA is a very potent precursor to the more familiar CBD form, and they work well together. It is very bioavailable, thus facilitating greater impact with a lower amount than CBD. It definitely interacts with the endocannabinoid system, and unlike the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors that CBD uses, it responds to the serotonin (5-HT1a) receptor and the Cox-2 systems (related to inflammation). While there is ongoing research to further substantiate the benefits, it is clear that the future is very promising for the potential role that CBDA plays in one’s health and wellness.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. Our products and the information on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.*