The Definitive Secret Nature CBDa Guide

Published July 31, 2020
The Definitive Secret Nature CBDa Guide - Secret Nature

You’ve heard of CBD, and you’re familiar with the amazing benefits this non-intoxicating cannabinoid provides. What if we were to tell you, however, there is another Cannabis sativa compound that’s almost exactly the same as CBD while potentially offering further benefits?

Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) is one of the most fascinating cannabis compounds currently on the market, and while this substance is very similar to CBD, there are significant differences between these two hemp constituents. In this guide, learn what CBDa is and how it compares to CBD, and brush up on the potential benefits of CBDa that science has identified.

What is CBDa?

Hemp buds are home to more than 1,000 compounds, and only a few of these natural chemicals are cannabinoids. In addition to terpenes, flavonoids, and waxes, cannabis also contains a variety of carboxylic acids, which are compounds that contain carboxyl groups consisting of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms.

These acids are the precursors of cannabinoids, which means that they transform into cannabinoids when exposed to certain stimuli. THCa is, for instance, the chemical precursor of THC, and CBGa is the chemical precursor of cannabigerol (CBG). CBDa is, in turn, the chemical precursor of CBD, and it transforms into CBD via the process of decarboxylation.

CBDa decarboxylates into CBD when oxidation removes this cannabinoid’s carboxyl groups. This process is triggered when CBDa is exposed to temperatures of 230° F or higher, which makes removing CBDa from Cannabis sativa flower a very tricky process.

Since it appears CBDa has benefits above and beyond those offered by CBD, however, putting in the extra work to extract this acid is worth it. For instance, a 2013 Canadian study suggested CBDa may be 1,000 times more active at the brain’s 5-HT1A receptors than CBD, indicating the acid form of this cannabinoid could be significantly more effective than CBD in treating conditions associated with this critical serotonin neuroreceptor.

Despite its molecular instability, CBDa has no chance of converting into THC. This carboxylic acid can only convert to CBD, so even if it is exposed to enough heat to trigger the decarboxylation process, CBDa will not get you high or cause any effects CBD does not also offer.

CBDa vs. CBD

CBDa and CBD are more similar than they are different both chemically and in terms of their effects. Chemically, the only difference between CBDa and CBD is the fact that CBDa has an additional carboxyl group.

One of the most notable differences between CBD and CBDa is the lack of research into CBDa that has been conducted so far. While hundreds of both clinical and preclinical studies have been conducted into the effects and potential benefits of CBD, hardly any research has been performed to determine the effects of CBDa.

For instance, there do not appear to be any clinical studies on the effects of CBDa on human subjects, so all of our conjecture on this cannabinoid is based on lab studies. Since CBD and CBDa are so similar, however, it’s likely that much of the research into cannabidiol also applies to cannabidiolic acid. 

CBD and CBDa are both non-intoxicating, and neither cannabinoid appears to have any significant affinity for your brain’s CB1 and CB2 receptors, the primary components of the endocannabinoid system. Instead, both CBD and CBDa appear to primarily interact with your brain’s 5-HT and TRP receptors.

How does CBDa work in the body?

CBDa seems to operate very similarly to CBD within the human body. This cannabinoid displays high affinity for the 5-HT1A receptors, and it most likely interacts with other neurochemical mechanisms involved in the metabolism of CBD. The effects of CBDa vary widely, however, depending on the method you use to ingest this carboxylic acid.

When ingested orally, CBDa has low bioavailability since it is processed by your liver. While applying CBDa topically using a water-based formula offers high bioavailability, the effects of most topicals remain localized to the site of administration.

CBDa can also be inhaled, but most methods used to inhale cannabis involve applying temperatures that would cause CBDa to decarboxylate into CBD. As long as you don’t mind CBDa converting into CBD in the process, vaping or smoking this cannabinoid precursor still provides the most potent effects.

CBDa benefits

Significantly less research has been conducted into CBDa compared to CBD. There are a few facts, however, we can glean about this carboxylic acid from the limited studies that have been conducted into CBDa to date:

1. Potential anti-nausea benefits

CBDa has been researched extensively for its potential anti-nausea and anti-emetic properties. While all of the studies conducted so far have involved animals instead of humans, scientists continue to investigate CBDa’s potential to reduce nausea and prevent vomiting by activating the brain’s 5-HT1A receptors.

2. Potential anti-cancer benefits

Multiple studies have been conducted into CBDa’s potential to fight breast cancer. While preliminary results are promising, more research needs to be done to determine if cannabidiolic acid truly has anti-carcinogenic properties.

3. Potential pain benefits

Studies have been conducted to determine the effects of CBDa on both neuropathic and inflammatory pain, which are the two major forms of experienced pain. So far, the results of these pilot studies have not been corroborated by further research, so we’ll need to wait before we can say for certain that CBDa helps with pain.

4. Potential anticonvulsant benefits

In the process of securing approval for their cannabidiol-based epilepsy drug, Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals also investigated the antiepileptic effects of CBDa. According to the patent filed for Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals found that CBDa showed promise as an anticonvulsant drug both alone and when combined with CBD.

5. Other potential benefits

Interestingly, a single study from 1976 found that CBDa may exert sporostatic effects, which means this carboxylic has been investigated for its ability to prevent fungal infections and preserve food. In a recent animal study, CBDa has also been investigated for its ability to reduce anxiety via activation of the 5-HT receptors.

Can CBDa get you high?

No, CBDa will not get you high. While the effects of CBDa might be more intense than those offered by CBD, neither Cannabis sativa compound will cause intoxication.

Is CBDa legal?

Naturally occurring cannabinoids aside from delta-9 THC are generally classified as “industrial hemp” under the 2018 Farm Bill. Most authorities consider CBDa to have the same legal status as CBD. Since this carboxylic acid is just as non-intoxicating and non-toxic as CBD, it’s unlikely that CBDa will become any less legal anytime soon.

What types of CBDa products are available?

A few different types of CBDa products, including topicals, capsules, and tinctures, are now available on the market. For maximum bioavailability and the best effects, however, you might choose to enjoy CBDa in a more natural form like CBDa rich hemp flower. Let’s cover some information on the best CBDa products:

CBDa flower

Most types of CBD-rich hemp flower also contain lots of CBDa. Unless CBD-rich hemp flower has been decarboxylated, in fact, it should contain significantly more CBDa than CBD. Most methods of using CBDa flower involve heating it until it decarboxylates, but the benefits CBDa provides compared to CBD appear to be only minimally different.

CBDa vape cartridges

Vape cartridges are among the most convenient and effective hemp products on the market regardless of the cannabinoids they contain. The cannabidiolic acid present in CBDa vape carts decarboxylates into CBD during the vaping process, but this method of using CBDa still provides high bioavailability and remarkably potent effects.

Other CBDa products

As we mentioned earlier, it’s also possible to put CBDa in capsules, tinctures, creams, or other types of orally or topically administered product types. None of these product types provide the degree of bioavailability offered by inhaled products, however, making them less useful if you want to enjoy CBDa and CBD to the fullest.

CBDa cannabinoid FAQ

What else can we tell you about CBDa?

1. What is the difference between CBDa and THCa?

CBDa is the chemical precursor of CBD, and THCa is the chemical precursor of THC. Both carboxylic acids transform into their final forms when exposed to heat even if their decarboxylation temperatures are different. Don’t worry—there’s no chance of your CBD turning into THC or vice versa.

2. Is CBDa good for dogs?

Despite a persistent lack of evidence on the subject, plenty of dog owners have given CBD to their pooches. Most dog owners dose their pups with CBD to help with pain or anxiety, which dovetails nicely with the increased serotonin receptor activity scientists have noted after administering CBDa. There aren’t a lot of CBDa pet products out there yet, but this cannabinoid could be just what your dog needs.

3. Is CBDa good for pain?

Scientists have noted that CBDa appears to be significantly more active at your brain’s 5-HT receptors than CBD. Since these are the neuroreceptors that control neuropathic pain, CBDa might be just the hemp substance to reach for when you’re in pain.

No evidence has yet shown CBDa to be more active at your TRP receptors, though. These neuroreceptors control the other type of pain: inflammatory pain.

4. Is CBDa better for pain than CBD?

There isn’t enough concrete evidence yet to conclude even CBD is good for pain. Based on its observed activity within the brain, CBDa might be more active at certain pain-related neuroreceptors than CBD, which may one day lead scientists to conclude CBDa is better for pain than its decarboxylated form.

Even though the science is still out on the subject, countless thousands of people have reported excellent results after using CBD for pain. They should all be made aware of the potentially improved benefits CBDa may offer.

5. Is CBDa anti-inflammatory?

If CBDa is ever proven to demonstrate improved benefits compared to CBD, existing evidence suggests it won’t be in the arena of inflammation relief. In the human body, inflammation is mainly governed by your TRP receptors. While CBDa might be remarkably buddy-buddy with your 5-HT receptors, there’s no indication this carboxylic acid is any more active at your TRP receptors than CBD.

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