What is CBDA? | CBD Origin

What is CBDA? | CBD Origin


Have you ever heard of CBDa? Well, if you know about CBD and THC, then you probably have. But if you don’t, you should. And I’m going to tell you why!

If you are trying to find what CBDa is, it just so happens you have found the most reliable source for this information. 

Here, we’re going to take a deep dive into what CBDa is and how it can be helpful to you.

If you’ve heard of CBD, chances are you know it contains health benefits. It’s been said to help with symptoms of epilepsy and anxiety and be an excellent alternative for pain relief. Cannabidiol is the natural cannabinoid found in the Hemp plant. But what about CBDa? What does this stand for, and what does it do? This article will go into the potential benefits of CBDa and what the research has found so far.

While it is well-known that cannabis contains over 120 cannabinoids, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have gained the most research attention. However, there are 85 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and one of these lesser-known compounds is called cannabidiolic acid (CBDA).

CBDa is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis. Although only recently studied, this cannabinoid has already received much attention for its potential medical value. What makes CBDa unique is the cyclic nature of its chemical structure.

A Little Note on the Backstory…

The cannabis plant has recently gotten a lot of attention due to its unique set of properties.

It’s no surprise that cannabis use has been documented in more cultures than any other plant species. For thousands of years, people have cultivated and harvested it from an almost infinite number of applications. But it wasn’t until recently that we understood the specific chemicals, many cannabinoids, and terpenes that make up this unique and versatile plant.

Research in the 1970s found that a wide variety of molecules, known as cannabinoids, are produced by the cannabis plant. One such molecule is THC, which is known for its psychoactive properties.

Although cannabis contains many substances beyond cannabinoids, such as polyunsaturated fatty acids, proteins, and terpenes, researchers have recently focused on cannabinoids because of their potential to treat certain conditions. 

Researchers have also discovered that instead of these effects being due to cannabinoids alone, the holistic effects – interactions with the terpenes and cannabinoids specifically- are what could be the most beneficial for health and wellbeing).

In a very simplistic way of explaining how these cannabinoids work in our body, scientists have discovered that we all have the endocannabinoid system in our brains to ensure that we feel good, think clearly, and keep moving. When we ingest cannabis, it activates these receptors and makes us feel good.

Since the early days of medical marijuana, two cannabinoids (CBD and THC) have always been present in the plant. It has always been thought that these were the only types available, but it happens that there are many more.

As our knowledge of cannabis grows, it’s become clear that CBD is only one of a whole host of different chemical compounds found in the plant.

CBD and THC are the most thoroughly researched cannabinoids. Both compounds present exciting possibilities for helping people live better lives. However, what about CBDA?

Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is another critical element of marijuana’s chemical composition. Not as familiar to most people as CBD, CBDA nonetheless has several health benefits.

What Is CBDA?

Cannabidiolic acid, or CBDa, is a cannabinoid produced by cannabis and hemp plants. It will convert to CBD (cannabidiol) once exposed to heat over a certain period of time. 

Cannabinoids are the active components found in cannabis that cause specific effects on the body, from pain and stress relief to euphoria. You’ve likely heard of CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)—these are the most widely known cannabinoids—but their origins can be traced back to a cannabinoid called CBGA (cannabigerolic acid).

Cannabidiolic acid, or CBDa, is a chemical compound found in cannabis. And, it just so happens to be the building block for CBD. CBDa is a chemical that can be converted to CBD through decarboxylation. This makes scientists refer to CBDa as a “parent” molecule for the star child CBD.

CBDA is a carboxylic acid, but who knows what that means (or why that matters). a carboxylic acid indicates the chemical structure is made up of a carboxyl group. And while it may seem as though I am talking in riddles, this is an important distinction- because when heated (or decarboxylated), this group breaks apart into COOH- which is one carbon, one hydrogen, two oxygen atoms. When you expose CBDA to high temperatures—an act known as decarboxylation—its carboxyl group breaks apart, forming carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Essentially forming cannabidiol, or, as known to most, CBD.

Although nature does an excellent job of converting the CBDa cannabinoid in cannabis into cannabidiol over time, you can speed up the process by using a vaporizer or baking your cannabis.

Have you ever made cannabis edibles? Whether you baked special brownies or made cookies, you should know just how vital the decarboxylation process is. The primary purpose of the decarboxylation process is to activate the cannabinoids and, as we see in the CBDa case, transform it too. This means that the decarboxylation process is crucial for the effects of the cannabis plant. It is also why the effects can be so varied across the product range. 

What Is the Difference Between CBD and CBDA?

CBD and CBDA share many of the same properties—the most significant difference between the two being that CBDA contains a carboxyl group, which is removed when CBD is heated.

The only difference between CBD and CBDA is the presence of a COOH group in the CBDA cannabinoid’s structure, which is eliminated when CBDA goes through decarboxylation.

While CBD has garnered much attention in the scientific research community, CBDA has mainly been neglected. But this cannabinoid deserves some serious attention.

It is undeniable that CBD is more popular for health products and supplements. However, CBDA is certainly not inert. Research regarding the compound is still lacking and far behind its cannabinoid counterpart.

Still, there are several studies on the effects of CBDA and its potential as a treatment for various ailments.

So, is CBDA less important than its more famous counterpart, CBD? Let’s look at what the research says and consider how we might use this cannabinoid for our health.

Here we will be looking at CBD vs CBDA in the context of the human body, discussing why they occur together and separately and how both substances can help with our health.

CBDA Benefits

Unfortunately, few studies exist on CBDA compared to CBD and THC, mainly because of the legal landscape and the difficulty scientists have had to obtain enough plants to run experiments on.

As such, scientists know little about cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) effects compared to other cannabinoids. The few studies on CBDA may be sparse, but they show it might help with certain conditions.

What are the Potential Medical Benefits of CBDA?

Most endocannabinoids interact with your body by binding to the CB1 or CB2 receptors. These pathways play a role in the natural regulation of neurotransmitter release, immune system functions, and more.

Although most cannabinoids bind directly with the CB1 or CB2 receptors, CBDA does not.

Instead, CBDA communicates with the endocannabinoid system by inhibiting the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme responsible for inflammation. Inflammation is responsible for pain and other associated symptoms, so blocking COX-2 enzymes can relieve these symptoms.

Inhibiting the production of COX-2 enzymes can help relieve inflammation and pain, so many companies are working on creating a synthetic version of CBDA that can be inserted into topical ointments, tinctures, and other types of natural medicine.

Animal studies found that exposure to CBDA affected levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical produced by nerve cells. It helps with signaling between cells, vital to core human functions like motor skills, sleeping, eating, digestion, and emotions.

Researchers found that a rodent test subject given CBDA had higher levels of serotonin — a chemical to help with messaging between cells — than their counterparts who did not.

Nausea—which comes about as the body’s reaction to triggers such as radiation and chemotherapy—poses a considerable challenge for cancer patients, who say it is much harder to deal with than vomiting. Many patients say nausea has a more substantial effect than vomiting does. Some even go so far as to threaten to discontinue treatment rather than experience the debilitating effects of nausea.

Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting is distressing symptom of some cancer treatment plans. Although the research has yet to be completed, recent experiments by scientists have demonstrated that CBDA, the acid precursor to CBD, can affect 5-HT serotonin receptors. This suggests a potential use for CBDA as a medication for chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting (CINV) and perhaps other conditions that induce these symptoms.

Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting are distressing, even debilitating symptoms of some cancer treatment plans. Recent experiments by scientists have demonstrated the anti-emetic properties of the acid precursor to CBD, which may mean that this compound can be used to treat nausea and vomiting and perhaps other conditions that induce these symptoms.

CBDA for Cancer

Cannabidiol (CBD) has been tested as a potential anti-cancer treatment in clinical trials. In multiple studies conducted by Takeda et al., this compound has reduced the viability of breast cancer cells in a laboratory setting, slowed their spread to other parts of the body, and decreased their ability to stimulate blood vessel growth. CBDA was found to inhibit breast cancer cell growth without adversely affecting normal cells.

Many breast cancer patients are prescribed high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs such as celecoxib (Celebrex) to reduce pain and swelling. But new research suggests that the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol may profoundly affect the disease.

In a promising new development, researchers found that exposing cancer cells to cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) for just 48 hours downregulated the expression of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which is part of the inflammatory process.

Innovative research may have found a promising way to prevent breast cancer. 

Researchers found that exposing cancer cells to CBDA for just 48 hours downregulates an enzyme-linked to inflammatory processes and as many as 40 % of breast cancer cases.

According to experts, breast cancer metastasis—the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body—is responsible for up to 90% of deaths related to breast cancer. The finding that the CBDa gene could stop breast cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body could prove vital in improving the prognosis for women diagnosed with this life-threatening condition. These findings might prove vital to improving their prognosis by preventing the spread of cancerous cells.

CBDA for Inflammatory Conditions

CBDA appears to have the same anti-inflammatory effects as CBD, a cannabinoid better known for its perceived pain-alleviating qualities. Many conventional drugs for inflammation work by inhibiting COX-2, which also has inflammatory effects.

Although no studies have been done on CBDA for joint pain or arthritis, it is reasonable to assume based on preliminary findings that it may help.

CBDA for Nausea and Vomiting

Scientists suggest that cannabidiolic acid maybe even more effective than CBD in reducing nausea and vomiting, as depicted in this study conducted on rats and shrews. Scientists studying the effects of CBDA on nausea and vomiting in rodents believe this compound could be a great alternative to CBD when treating symptoms of nausea and vomiting.

Research has found that the link to CBDa and nausea may be hidden in plain sight, in the digestive system! These potent effects result from CBDA enhancing the activation of serotonin1 receptors, proteins activated by the brain chemical serotonin. These receptors are prevalent in the digestive system.

These results suggest that CBD has the potential to modulate serotonin signaling. The effects are particularly apparent in the digestive system, which contains the highest density of serotonin receptors.

Not enough research has been conducted on humans to establish the effects of CBDA on nausea and vomiting if research is proven to be effective as a treatment for cancer patients experiencing nausea. Then, the cannabinoid could offer relief to people who suffer from nausea related to many other conditions.

CBDA for Mental Wellbeing

There’s a suggestion that CBDA may help reduce stress and anxiety. However, more research needs to yield evidence to support such claims. However, in the meantime, we are seeing an increasing amount of anecdotal cases where CBDa is assisting people suffering from anxiety and stress-related disorders. 

Is CBDA Legal?

CBDa that comes from hemp with less than 0.3% THC is legal in many places worldwide.

Because CBDA lacks medical research, it is classified as a food supplement instead of medicine. While this in itself is perfectly fine, it is the lack of regulations that I am always concerned about. Is this a bad thing? Of course not! As long as you understand the ins and outs of what makes a good quality product.

It is natural to be wary when considering a supplement product, especially one that you are ingesting. However, given the lack of research on the product, there is a chance you might get it from an unverified source. If you decide to try CBDA, make sure that you pick a brand that has been verified as using third-party lab testing for its ingredients. That way, you will know what you are putting in your system.

Which Cannabis Strains Are High in CBDA? 

In any strain high in cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) is present until heat converts it.

Here are some of the most well-known strains with high levels of CBD (and, as such, CBDA):

Charlotte’s Web
Ringo’s Gift
Sour Tsunami

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is CBDA Stronger Than CBD?

Answer: While CBD is the more famous cannabinoid, some studies indicate that the CBDA cannabinoid has a higher potency than CBD. Even one study suggests CBDA is more than 1000 times more potent than CBD in activating the proper serotonin receptor that could minimize anxiety and nausea and provide welcome relief for those suffering from conditions that induce nausea. 

Question: What is CBDA Used For?

Answer: Preliminary studies show that CBDa treatment could effectively prevent breast cancer cells from migrating, potentially stopping the disease from spreading. CBDA is also used for reducing inflammation, anxiety, stress, and nausea. 

Question: What are the Differences Between CBD and CBDA?

Answer: CBD is found in the cannabis plant, but CBDA occurs in plants that are still alive. When raw cannabis containing CBDA is heated, it becomes CBD through a process called decarboxylation.

Question: Is CBDA Good for Pain?

Answer: Because it is as powerful as CBD, Dr. Linda Parker at the University of Guelph tested whether it could reduce inflammation-induced pain in rats. Researchers at the University of Guelph found that CBDA could reduce inflammation-induced pain and swelling when given to rats.

Question: Is CBDA an Anti-inflammatory?

Answer: Studies indicate that CBDA is an anti-inflammatory- since it can inhibit the COX-2 inhibitor. Many non-steroidal (NSAIDS) anti-inflammatories are formulated to have the same function; to inhibit the COX-2 receptors. 

The Bottom Line: Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)

Although it is not as famous as CBD, CBDA could have many beneficial effects on our health. There are a lot of promising studies being done to understand the potential of CBDA. As a result, we are just beginning to understand the potential of this compound, especially for breast cancer and nausea/vomiting. It is also possible that CBDA has many other benefits just waiting for us to discover them.

If you’re looking to give your health a boost with CBDA from raw cannabis, keep in mind that heating the plant will convert CBDA to CBD. The best way to get CBDA is by adding the raw plant to green smoothies or by juicing the plant. Another option is to use a tincture formulated with the CBDA cannabinoid to ensure you get the cannabinoid in its raw form into your system. Always be mindful of the source of your cannabis-based products by checking the third-party reports


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