What Is CBDA?
CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid) is the acidic precursor to CBD and is found in the stalks, stems, leaves, seeds and flowers of cannabis plants. CBDA is considered the raw form of CBD, and was traditionally thought to be pharmacologically inactive. CBDA is actually one of the most abundant cannabinoids found in hemp seed oil, but it is especially sensitive to heat, light and oxygen which is why it is important to store it in opaque, sealed containers at room temperature.
CBDA is transformed into CBD via a process known as decarboxylation, the removal of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Decarboxylation slightly alters the chemical structure and pharmacological properties of CBDA when forming CBD.
Decarboxylation occurs as a result of exposure to heat, sunlight and air and also occurs naturally over time. New research is highlighting some exciting use cases for CBDA, and it may be more useful than CBD in some specific cases.
CBDA vs CBD
CBDA demonstrates 100-fold greater attraction to the 5-HT1A (serotonin) receptor when compared to CBD (1). This may mean CBDA is more effective for conditions which involve complications with serotonin signalling. The serotonin system is involved with nausea, vomiting, depression and seizures.
In some studies, CBDA has shown antidepressant and anti-anxiety activity in mice (2), although studies in humans are needed to back this up. Bu this makes sense considering the relationship CBDA has with the serotonin system.
CBDA can potently suppress signs of nausea in rats and potently inhibits toxin- and motion-induced vomiting in shrews. Whereas CBD only appears to inhibit toxin induced vomiting. CBDA may be a promising agent for motion sickness, unlike CBD (3).
CBDA (0.1 and 0.5 mg·kg) was able to reduce vomiting at significantly lower doses than CBD (>40 mg·kg) (4).
CBDA may also display greater potency, efficacy or selectivity at reducing signs of stroke, pain, anxiety and depression than CBD (4) (yet to be clinically confirmed).
CBDA was also found to have an anti-epileptic effect, which may be due to its interaction with the serotonin system (1).
CBDA was found to have potent anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects in rats. In comparison to CBDA, an equivalent low dose of CBD did not reduce pain, suggesting that CBDA is more potent than CBD for pain relief (5).
CBD has a notoriously low oral bioavailability. Bioavailability varies based on method of administration (vaping, oral drops or capsules), but tends to be lowest for capsules and oral drops (4-30%). CBDA shows significantly greater bioavailability and absorption compared to CBD. CBDA was shown shown to reach blood levels significantly greater than CBD (55.03 ng/ml vs 3.14 ng/ml) (6).
Despite being contained in a quantity just under double that of CBD in a cannabis oil preparation, CBDA blood levels reached over 18 times that of CBD (4.4mg vs 2.4mg).
What this all means is that from the CBDA taken, a far greater amount of it actually makes it into the body when compared to CBD. This means theres more CBDA (in relation to CBD) for it to exert its beneficial biological effects in the body such as for mood, pain and inflammation.
Much like its derivative CBD, CBDA has the ability to suppress inflammation on many different levels, leading to a potent overall anti-inflammatory effect. Compounds which have a broad anti-inflammatory activity are often helpful for managing inflammation which may underlie a variety of chronic health conditions.
CBDA suppresses inflammation at the genetic level, by dampening the activity of messages that activate inflammatory genes (7). Cannabinoids like CBD and CBDA are unique as they are able to talk to genes through receptors called PPAR’s. These act as something called transcription factors, which regulate the expression of genes.
CBDA also stops inflammation by inhibiting pro-inflammatory enzymes (COX-2), and tells immune cells to cool it on the inflammation through receptors in the TRP family (7). COX-2 is a driver of inflammation related diseases, such as breast cancer, so suppressing too much activity from this enzyme may be beneficial.
Like CBD, CBDA also has anticancer activity. It has been tested on breast cancer cells specifically, and its activity is due to its ability to suppress inflammation (inflammation drives cancer development) through inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme (7).
CBDA also has antimicrobial properties against two strains of bacteria S. aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis, however its potency is two times less that of CBD (8). A full spectrum extract containing both cannabinoids may be useful when taken as capsules to control the bacterial ecosystem of the gut, and overall gut health. Similarly, a topical product may help protect skin against bacterial damage to skin.
Using CBDA may also boost the bioavailability of CBD through beneficially affecting the absorption, metabolism and overall ‘availability’ of CBD and other cannabinoids (9).
CBDA may also enhance the effects of other 5HT1A (serotonin receptor) activators (4), such as CBD which is another compelling reason to combine the two. This may be beneficial for anxiety, depression and other conditions related to serotonin function, such as issues with nausea and vomiting.
Where To Find CBDA oil
Full spectrum extracts are the best way to make sure you are getting a healthy dose of CBDA. In fact, a lot of full spectrum extracts should really be called CBDA oil or raw CBD oil because they actually contain more CBDA than CBD.
Gaia Guru uses full spectrum extracts which are rich in CBDA, in our signature Night and Day caps as well as our entire range of topical cosmetic products. The CBDA content can be seen on each lab report. We are proud to say we offer at least some form of CBDA oil in the UK.