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What is CBDa?

CBD, CBG, CBN, CBDa…it seems like there’s a new cannabinoid discovered almost every day! With increased research, the list of beneficial cannabinoids found in hemp only continues to grow and it’s easy to lose track. Today, we’re going to talk about one of our favorite cannabinoids CBDa– where CBDa comes from, what the benefits of CBDa are, and how you can experience the benefits.

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What is CBDa?

CBDa or cannabidiolic acid is one of the many chemical compounds found in the hemp plant. These compounds are called cannabinoids and are able to interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system to produce unique effects. For example, THC is the cannabinoid known for producing a “high” feeling while CBD may actually counteract the “high” effects. And while we’re on the topic of intoxicating compounds, CBDa is non-intoxicating, meaning it will not make you feel “high.”

CBDa is most abundantly found in living hemp plants. This is because CBDa is the precursor to CBD, which is formed when CBDa is exposed to heat, light, or oxygen. This process, called decarboxylation, occurs naturally during the growing and curing process but can also be simulated by applying heat, like fire, to plant matter. Basically, CBDa is the raw form of CBD.  So now that you know where CBD comes from, you might be wondering where does CBDa come from?

Cannabinoid Acids

All cannabinoids start in their acidic form. However, all cannabinoids are derived from CBGa, hence the name “mother of all cannabinoids.” Depending on the strain, the plant’s cannabis synthesis enzymes will have varying levels of activity.  For example, marijuana strains typically have overactive THCa synthesis enzymes, meaning the plant will produce more THCa. Whereas, hemp typically has overactive CBDa enzymes. These enzymes essentially control what CBGa breaks down into. CBDa is formed when CBGa interacts with one of the synthesis enzymes and converts to CBDa. Besides CBDa, CBGa is also the precursor to THCa as well as CBCa.

What are the benefits of CBDa?

Most common consumption methods convert CBDa to CBD so it’s a bit more difficult to harness the therapeutic effects of the raw cannabinoid. Because of this, the majority of research has focused on cannabinoids like CBD and THC. That being said, CBDa has its own growing list of benefits and may even be more powerful than CBD.

A 2008 study found CBDa to be more effective at preventing inflammation than THCa. CBDa works by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme, which is responsible for inflammation and pain. On top of that, its molecular structure is actually quite similar to that of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are often used to manage conditions that cause pain like arthritis or osteoporosis. Unlike CBDa, NSAIDs may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even skin reactions.

Besides inflammation, COX-2 enzymes are also responsible for spreading cancer cells and are found in almost half of all breast cancer cases. Because of CBDa’s ability to inhibit this enzyme, it may be able to slow or even stop the spread of breast cancer cells.  Another study found that CBDa also has an affinity for 5-HT receptors. In fact, it’s about 1000 times stronger than CBD’s affinity for the same receptors. These receptors play an important role in regulating mood, seizure activity, and nausea.

British pharmaceutical company, GW Pharmaceutical, which makes the first FDA-approved cannabinoid-based product, has filed for two medical-use patents involving CBDa. One of the patents is for CBDa as a cancer treatment, while the other is for CBDa as a treatment for inflammatory skin diseases like dermatitis caused by infections or allergic reactions.

Where to find CBDa?

CBDa is most prevalent in raw cannabis plants. Because of this, many consumers juice raw cannabis leaves to experience the benefits of CBDa. However, with increased interest in CBDa and growing extraction experience, hemp companies have started producing CBDa products. At Blue Forest Farms, our 07 In the Raw Blend, features CBDa as well as some of the other acidic cannabinoids. Currently, In the Raw is available in soft gel and oil drop form.

As cannabis research continues to grow, we expect CBDa to step into the spotlight in both wellness and medical communities. Especially, when you consider the compound’s potential benefits and minimal risk, compared to traditional treatment methods.