Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA): Understanding this Cannabinoid

cannabidiolic acid

In your relentless search on all things CBD-related, you might have come across a cannabinoid known as CBDA. These four letters stand for cannabidiolic acid. Like CBD, this is a type of non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid. However, it has unique differences in comparison with both CBD and THC. 

There aren’t really any sellers of CBDA oil that we’re aware of. More commonly, you will find CBD oil containing CBDA. Some say the cannabinoid makes a tincture more powerful, and ultimately better for you. Is this true?

To be honest, there is very little specific research on CBDA. For that reason, no one can say just how “good” it is or what kind of speccific benefits it adds to a full-spectrum tincture.

However, there is some information on CBDA available. Today, we will take a look at cannabidiolic acid and discuss what exactly it does. We will also discuss research relating to CBDA, so read on to find out all you need to know. First, though, let’s talk a little about cannabinoids in general.


Cannabinoids: What Are They?

CBD users will probably already know what cannabinoids are. If you’re unsure, then we’ll explain here. Cannabinoids are the active compounds found in cannabis – including both industrial hemp and marijuana.

Cannabinoids are unique to the cannabis species, hence the name. Scientists believe that cannabinoids evolved to help the plant during growth and survival. Some even say they function to provide chemical protection for the plant.

THC is perhaps the most well-known cannabinoid. It is psychoactive and is responsible for the high associated with cannabis consumption. Again, this probably had an evolutionary purpose. When an animal came along to snack on the plant, it became disorientated from the intoxicating effects of THC. It would know never to eat cannabis again.


But how does THC do this?


Cannabinoids have a unique ability to interact with the human body (and indeed all mammals). This is because mammals have an endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The ECS is full of receptors that respond to the phytocannabinoids in cannabis (‘phyto’ means plant-based). 

Interestingly enough, the human body makes its own cannabinoids (called endocannabinoids). “Endo” means internal, so you can think of them as internal cannabinoids.

Plant-based phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD bind with receptors in the ECS to produce an astonishing range of health benefits. Since THC binds with CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system, it produces psychoactive effects that make you high.

Other cannabinoids (like CBD and CBDA) do not produce these psychoactive effects. In fact, each cannabinoid in cannabis may interact with the ECS in their own unique way. Hundreds of different cannabinoids exist, but very little research exists on any of them. Hopefully this will begin to change as we witness an increase in cannabis legalization.

Anyway, let’s take a look at CBDA and see what kinds of specific functions and properties it has relative to the ECS.


What is CBDA?

Cannabidiolic acid is a sort of precursor to CBD. The cannabis plant produces all its cannabinoids in acid form. In fact, some say that all cannabinoids start out as CBGA (cannabigerolic acid). When a particular enzyme becomes available, CBGA converts into CBDA.


Raw cannabis plant material must be heated, or decarboxylated, for acids to convert into active cannabinoids. Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction which removes a carboxyl group. This is the specific process that turns CBDA into CBD.


Decarboxylation is often said to activate cannabinoids, but the word ‘activate’ isn’t entirely accurate. Cannabinoid acids like CBDA and THCA do influence the body by themselves, so they don’t necessarily need to be activated to work. However, upon decarboxylation, cannabinoid acids alter their chemical structure, changing the effects they have on the ECS.

So what kind of effects does CBDA have on the body by itself as a supplement? Believe it or not, there are suggestions that CBDA has a wealth of its own specific properties. Let’s find out what the research is saying.


The Latest Research into CBDA

In 2008, a study was published in Drug Metabolism and Disposition: The Biological Fate of Chemicals. Researchers found that CBDA has a remarkably similar structure to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In other words, CBDA may have the potential to act as an anti-inflammatory.

Rather than working directly with cannabinoid receptors, CBDA appears to work by inhibiting the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme. This is an enzyme associated with inflammation. Research suggests that when CBDA blocks COX-2 enzymes, inflammation can lessen.

Another important area of research involves CBDA and the 5-HT serotonin system. This system links with mood (serotonin is a known mood enhancer).

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are common antidepressants. These prevent the reabsorption of serotonin, increasing its quantity in the body. An animal study from 2018 shows that CBDA also inhibits the reabsorption of serotonin.

The serotonin system influences many physiological processes. Excess serotonin can cause nausea and vomiting, for example. Surges in the hormone can also result from a variety of stressors.

Aside from these specific avenues of research, there is also the burning question of how effective CBDA is. In comparison with CBD, the academic journal Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience claims that CBDA has 100 times greater affinity for 5-HT receptors. CBDA also has a higher bioavailability than CBD, meaning the body can absorb better more of it.

How Hopeful Should We Be About CBDA Research?

At the moment, there is only a limited amount of research on CBDA. Simply put, there are not enough studies to claim that CBDA has specific uses.

It is also crucial to remember that the above studies were conducted on animal models. While studies like this are essential in the initial stages of research, human studies are necessary to determine the exact effect of CBDA on users.

Of course, this is not to say that one should disregard all existing research on CBDA. The results are promising, and will hopefully lead to more reliable information in the future. Until then, we remain optimistic in terms of what CBDA can do.


Should You Be on the Lookout for a CBDA Supplement?

There are plenty of hemp oil supplements around that contain CBDA. While there aren’t any that we’re aware of that contain pure CBDA, many contain a full-spectrum mixture of CBDA and CBD. You can get these full-spectrum products in oil form, capsules, or even as topical salves.


It’s up to you whether you invest in a CBDA product. Research up to now is minimal, so we can’t say for sure what the specific benefits are. However, some early research suggests that it could be even more effective than CBD! At this point, we’ll just have to watch this space. There’s no telling where CBDA research might take us, but the future looks very promising.

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