What is CBDA / Cannabidiolic Acid?

    It is being said that CBDA is “a little-known cannabinoid with major therapeutic potential”. Let’s dive in a bit deeper!

    There are over 140 cannabinoids in cannabis, CBD being just one of them. Many of these are only activated when the plant is heated (a process called decarboxylation), but there are some that are only present in raw plant material – precursors to cannabinoids – and these also have very interesting interactions with the body. Today, we’ll be taking a look at CBDA – an impressive compound in its own right and the ‘mother’ of the CBD molecule we know and love.

    Does my CBD oil contain CBDA?

    First of all, you may be wondering ‘is CBDA in CBD oil’? Sometimes, but not always. Even products that are broad spectrum, or even claim to be full spectrum, won’t necessarily include this molecule. It’s perfectly legal, so that’s not the issue. It doesn’t get you high. It’s just that most CBD oil has been decarboxylated to activate all the other cannabinoids, like CBD. However, there are oils that are made with a whole plant extract, or even ‘raw’ which do boast decent levels of CBDA.

    What do we know about CBDA?

    As the cannabis plant is now so well studied, and the potential therapeutic benefits of CBDA in particular have been explored for over ten years, we’ve seen some pretty amazing results coming out of CBDA research – albeit mostly in non-human studies.

    Like CBD, CBDA doesn’t directly activate the Endocannabinoid System (a complex physiological system in the body which works in synergy with cannabis and acts as our ‘homeostatic regulator’, keeping our bodily processes in balance). Instead, it has been shown to inhibit COX-2 – an enzyme expressed by inflammatory cells, usually after an infection or injury. 

    This is huge news on a number of levels as, while further research specifically into the actions of CBDA may be needed to fully confirm its potential, we do know quite a lot about what the inhibition of COX-2 can do. Pharmaceutical COX-2 inhibitors (like NSAIDs) are commonly used to target inflammation, pain and conditions such as arthritis and back pain. There’s also evidence to suggest that COX-2 inhibition can alter the progression of cancer cells and enhance radiosensitization of tumour tissue. 

    Furthermore, this opens up exciting possibilities for research into endometriosis – an extremely painful and relatively common condition which currently has no treatment or cure. Although a cause is not known, the scientific community is aware that overexpression of the COX-2 enzyme plays a massive role in the progression of endometriosis. Regulating this presents a potential pathway for relief.
    In 2008, one team of researchers even compared the molecular structure of CBDA with NSAID drugs and found them to be very similar, suggesting CBDA could hold potential as a natural alternative. Perhaps unsurprisingly, GW Pharmaceuticals (the company that makes prescription cannabis medication Epidiolex) has already filed CBDA patents for treatment of cancer, nausea, and inflammatory skin diseases, as well as anti-psychotic medication. The same company has also conducted their own research into CBDA and found it to be significantly more effective than CBD for seizures.

    CBDA research

    Of course, what we know about COX-2 inhibition doesn’t equate to actual CBDA research – but there’s plenty of that too, particularly focusing on its bioactivity, as an anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, anti-convulsant, and anti-cancerogenic drug.

    As well as the knowledge that CBDA acts as a COX-2 inhibitor, we also know that it boosts serotonin levels, like CBD, but potentially much more so. In fact, through this action, one study found CBDA to be 1000 times more effective at combating nausea and anxiety than CBD!

    Given this potent interaction with serotonin receptors, it’s worth considering the other abundance of processes serotonin affects, such as digestion, inflammation, sexual function, bone density, sleep, appetite and more.

    CBDA Bioavailability 

    Bioavailability is the amount of something that actually gets to work in your body. The bioavailability of CBD products varies a lot, depending on which type of product you use (a sublingual oil, a vape pen, patches, or edibles for example) and also the product formulation itself. Bioavailability is generally quite low, as we lose a lot of the product during absorption and/or digestion, so anything you can do to boost it is a bonus. It just so happens that CBDA is water soluble, so it has a vastly superior bioavailability to CBD, and a faster onset.

    CBDA: The Cannabinoid of the future

    Humans have ingested cannabis medicinally, recreationally and spiritually for many thousands of years. We’ve known about many of the things this amazing plant has to offer, but it’s only recently that we’ve started to understand the mechanisms behind it. 

    Given what pre-clinical trials have already unveiled about CBDA and the launch of a patented CBDA “ester” (a stable, synthetic version) – that will hopefully make further research easier to approach – the future looks seriously bright for this raw cannabis gem!

    You can find CBDA in the following Ardoa Organics products:

    Find out more about cannabinoids: Read everything you need to know about CBG, CBC and CBDV.

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