What is CBDA?

CBDA is essentially the raw form of CBD. What are its uses, benefits, and effects?

Written by

Mell Green

Mell is a cannabis connoisseur who has been published in Cannabis Industry Association, Analytical Cannabis, Terpenes and Testing Magazine, Plant People, Byrdie, and many others over the last several years....

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The cannabis world is full of confusing acronyms that are hard to keep up with. Just as you got comfortable with CBD and THC, we have a new one for you: CBDA.

CBDA is short for cannabidiolic acid, and this cannabinoid is essentially the “raw” form of CBD. When exposed to heat or aged, or if CBDA becomes decarboxylated, the CBDA form transforms into CBD, leaving you with the soothing, medicinal cannabinoid you’re familiar with. 

But, what about CBDA itself?

Before turning into CBD, CBDA contains various properties that are worth discussing in and of itself, especially in regard to potential medical benefits.

So, if this is yet another acronym that you’re unfamiliar with, we have you covered. Here’s practically everything you’ll need to know about CBDA and its future.

What is CBDA?

  • CBDA is short for cannabidiolic acid and is the precursor to CBD.
  • CBDA from a store would be most likely found in a full spectrum CBD oil.
  • Compared to CBD, CBDA has higher bioavailability and potency creating a stronger cannabinoid.
  • Animal studies have shown that CBDA may be ideal for pain management, anxiety, depression, and nausea/vomiting. 
  • Studies published in 2012 and 2014 showed CBDA could halt the migration of and inhibit breast cancer cells
  • CBDA is generally legal in the US, but state laws vary.
  • Few companies sell CBDA products currently, but ones like Endoca and Awakened Topicals have embraced the cannabinoid.

What is CBDA (Cannabidiolic Acid)?

Cannabidiolic Acid molecular structure

As was mentioned, CBDA is essentially the precursor to CBD; though, the two present quite different experiences.

Both of these cannabinoids work with your body in extremely unique ways; instead of binding directly with your cannabinoid receptors, these cannabinoids work directly with the endocannabinoid system itself.

CBDA, however, works to hinder the absorption of the cyclooxygenase-2, or COX-2, enzyme, a molecule mainly associated with pain and inflammation. While this is a function of CBD as well, CBDA tends to produce much more potent effects. 

CBDA rich cannabis plant

For example, a Canadian study done in 2013 found that CBDA is actually a thousand times more powerful than CBD when it comes to producing anti-nausea and anti-anxiety properties.

CBDA more effectively binds to serotonin receptors, particularly in low doses, leading scientists to believe that CBDA may be significantly more powerful of nausea and anxiety treatment than that of typical CBD. This potency, they believe, comes from CBDA’s bioavailability. 

In fact, CBDA appears to be about 18x more bioavailable than CBD.

This means that this cannabinoid, in particular, breaks down within your body with significantly less effort than other cannabinoids, resulting in a potent, powerful experience that’s still non-intoxicating. 

CBDA Could Benefit You in Many Ways

Though research is currently limited on this cannabinoid, cannabis scientists are beginning to truly see its potential medical benefits.

Inflammation Reduction 

As was mentioned above, CBDA appears to work incredibly effectively with the COX-2 enzyme, suggesting its potential towards inflammation and pain disorders. Just as your typical NSAID works to combat pain and discomfort, CBDA does the same. 

Symptoms of Chemotherapy and Nausea

Along with pain, CBDA shows serious potential in helping relieve nausea and preventing vomiting. 

For those undergoing chemotherapy, while vomiting can easily be controlled through proper medication, the feelings of nausea aren’t so easily controlled. However, CBDA has shown its relationship with serotonin receptors being potentially quite beneficial towards nausea and other digestive issues. By working directly with the body’s serotonin receptors, you’re experiencing much more potent, uninterrupted relief. 

Serotonin and Mental Health Boost

Not only do these serotonin receptors affect nausea and vomiting, but they affect anxiety and depression as well. Though not enough studies have been conducted, this leads the community to believe that CBDA may be ideal support for mental illnesses as such, due to its ability to bind to these specific receptors. 

But, again, all of the current evidence that’s been gathered is scarce and is largely from animal studies, not human. So, while benefits are exciting, they are still only potential benefits. 

Breast Cancer

Toxicological Sciences discovered CBDA inhibited the inflammatory enzyme in breast cancer that spreads cancer cells. This COX-2 enzyme is found in up to 50% of all breast cancer cases. 

Science still continues and while it can’t definitively be said that CBD works as a treatment for breast cancer, it seems to have some potential for slowing its progression. 

Anticonvulsant Properties

In its report, the authors noted that CBDa exhibited a 100-fold greater affinity for 5-HT (1A) receptors than CBD.

Scientific Studies Done Aren’t Conclusive, But Promising 

Studies on CBDA may be scarce, but they give huge insight into what to expect from this cannabinoid, as well as its potential uses. You can find some here:

Cannabidiolic acid prevents vomiting in Suncus murinus and nausea-induced behavior in rats by enhancing 5-HT1A receptor activation.

  • Study evaluated the CBDA’s effect on nausea and vomiting in animal models. 
  • Using rats, researchers induced nausea, activating their 5-HT receptors.
  • Then, CBDA combined with ethanol was administered to the rats in low doses. 
  • Results found that CBDA was significantly more successful in reducing nausea and vomiting than that of CBD.
  • CBDA shows promise for potential nausea/vomiting treatment.

Cannabidiolic Acid as a Selective cyclooxygenase-2 Inhibitory Component in Cannabis

  • This study evaluated whether or not CBDA inhibits the COX-2 enzyme as is suggested.
  • Researchers studied the structural elements of both CBDA and THC.
  • Evidence showed that CBDA and THC have completely different structures, suggesting CBDA’s ability to inhibit certain enzymes, unlike THC
  • Results found that cannabis containing primarily CBDA had selective inhibitory effects on the COX-2 enzyme. 

Acute Oral Cannabidiolic Acid Methyl Ester Reduces Depression-Like Behavior in Two Genetic Animal Models of Depression

  • This study aimed to examine the effect that cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) methyl ester had on rates with depression.
  • To determine the effects, the study associated CBDA with swim tests to see results. 
  • After administered, the study found that the mixture resulted in increased mobility and swimming in male rats.
  • When CBDA is taken with methyl ester, the stability created shows potential as an anti-depressive agent in animal models. 

Some (Credible) Companies Where You Can Buy CBDA

Hemp derived CBDA-rich tincture. Photo: Rare Cannabinoid Company

With CBDA being so new to the cannabis community, finding reputable companies that sell it can be tough. We’ve compiled a list of a few of our favorite companies to help you find this special cannabinoid yourself. 

Endoca is a CBD oil-based cannabis company that infuses almost all of their tinctures with heavy doses of CBDA alongside their quality CBD. Though slightly pricey, these tinctures include both strong and medium doses of their CBD, CBDA mix to provide ultimate results. 

Awakened Topicals is a California-based topical company that specializes in their “raw” hemp products. Utilizing only CBDA and THCA in their products, you’re able to fully experience what these cannabinoids can offer in their most natural form. 

Myriam’s Premium Hemp offers potent blends of CBD and CBDA in their tinctures, as well as pure CBDA options. As a reputable company that’s been featured in the LA Weekly and even on Netflix, they’re one you can trust to try. 

Final Thoughts

Though somewhat new to the cannabis world, CBDA is a cannabinoid that you, and everyone else in the community, deserve to know about. As a cannabinoid that you’ll likely come across in raw cannabis, understanding exactly what it can do is beneficial for every person who enjoys the plant. 

As more studies are conducted and more information is understood, CBDA will become more familiar, too. Until then, you can dabble in trying some for yourself and experience a (supposed) extra layer of total support through this crude form of CBD.

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