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Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)

Ethan Parker

Written by: Ethan Parker

Updated on December 24, 2023

Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)

Cannabis plants produce naturally occurring chemicals called cannabinoids. These interact with our body, causing various effects like pain relief, relaxation, or even excitement. You’ve probably heard of the big names: CBD and THC. But did you know they both come from a “parent” molecule called CBGA?

CBDA itself is often found in raw cannabis products like capsules, liquids, and even juices. People are excited about its potential benefits, but what are CBDA, and are there any downsides?

What Is CBDA?

Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA) is a naturally occurring non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant and serves as the acidic precursor to Cannabidiol (CBD). CBDA is abundant in the buds of female cannabis plants, especially in CBD-rich varieties. It is synthesized through the combination of olivetolic acid and cannabidiolic acid by the action of cannabidiolic acid synthase in the living plant.

In CBD-rich varieties of cannabis, CBDA is present in high concentrations in the living plant before decarboxylation occurs. Cannabidiol, in its acidic form known as CBDA, exists before cannabis undergoes decarboxylation. Over time and exposure to heat, a process known as “decarboxylation,” CBDA loses its acidic nature, and through the release of carbon dioxide (CO2), it transforms into the chemically neutral and more widely recognized cannabinoid, CBD (Cannabidiol). Simultaneously, as CBDA converts to CBD, it produces a potent therapeutic compound with healing potential. In this sense, CBD is not “neutral” but rather remarkably potent, capable of treating a variety of conditions ranging from mild anxiety to chronic pain.

Potential Uses and Benefits

While research on CBDA is still in its early stages, there is growing interest in the potential uses and benefits of CBDA. Some potential uses and benefits include:

  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties – CBDA has been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is associated with various health conditions, and compounds with anti-inflammatory properties may have therapeutic applications.
  • Preliminary research suggests that CBDA may have anti-nausea and anti-emetic properties, making it a potential option for managing symptoms related to nausea and vomiting.
  • There is some evidence to suggest that CBDA may have anxiolytic effects, meaning it could potentially help in reducing anxiety. This could be particularly relevant for individuals dealing with anxiety disorders.
  • Some studies have explored the potential of CBDA in inhibiting the migration of breast cancer cells. However, more research is needed to fully understand its role in cancer therapy.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

Similar to CBD, CBDA has minimal side effects. Most potential side effects of CBDA are mild because, compared to CBD, the biological activity of cannabinoids in the body is not very high. Here are some possible side effects when using CBDA:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth (cottonmouth)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Slight changes in mood

These side effects are more likely to occur if you take high doses of CBDA or use cannabinoids frequently throughout the day. If you experience any bothersome or persistent side effects, consult with your doctor. There’s a long list of medications, from antihistamines to antidepressants, that may interact with both CBDA and CBD. For safety reasons, before taking CBDA with any prescription or over-the-counter medications, consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

CBDA, CBD, CBG, CBC and THC

To better understand the unique character of CBDA, let’s compare it to other cannabinoids:

CBDA vs. CBD

Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and cannabidiol (CBD) are related compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBDA is the acidic precursor to CBD, existing in raw, unheated cannabis. Through a process called decarboxylation, CBDA converts to CBD when exposed to heat. While CBDA has been less studied than CBD, both compounds share similarities in their potential health benefits. CBD is known for its various therapeutic properties, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic effects. CBDA, in its natural state, is considered less biologically active than CBD, but research suggests it may have anti-nausea and antiemetic properties. The relationship between CBDA and CBD highlights the dynamic nature of cannabinoids and their potential contributions to the overall therapeutic effects of cannabis.

CBDA vs. CBG

Both CBDA and CBG are young cannabinoids with exciting potential, but their relationship is more akin to that of “uncle and nephew.”! CBDA is the acidic precursor to CBD, while CBG branches off earlier as its own distinct molecule. Think of CBGA (cannabigerolic acid) as the family tree root, splitting into two pathways: one leading to CBDA and then CBD, and the other directly to CBG. Both offer unique benefits – CBDA for potential pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties, and CBG for potential in energy boost, inflammation reduction, and even eye health. So, while they share a youthful cannabinoid vibe, they each bring their own flavor to the table!

CBDA vs. CBC

Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and cannabichromene (CBC) are two distinct cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBDA is the acidic precursor to CBD and can be understood as the “offspring” of CBGA, with its concentration decreasing as the plant matures and undergoes decarboxylation. CBC is formed through CBGA, initially producing CBCA under the catalysis of CBCA synthase, and then further transformed through decarboxylation. It can be considered as the “offspring” of CBGA and the “nephew” of CBDA. While CBDA has garnered attention for its potential anti-inflammatory and antiemetic properties, CBC is renowned for its unique potential, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and neuroprotective effects. Together, these two cannabinoids contribute to the complex spectrum of cannabis compounds, each with its own potential therapeutic benefits.

CBDA vs. THC

Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two distinct cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and their relationship is more akin to that of “uncle and nephew.” CBDA is the acidic precursor to cannabidiol (CBD), exhibiting non-psychoactive properties. It is formed from the precursor molecule cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) and is often associated with potential anti-inflammatory and antiemetic properties. On the other hand, THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, responsible for the plant’s intoxicating effects. Similar to CBDA, THC also originates from CBGA, but it requires the catalysis of THCA synthase in trichomes to first produce THCA and then undergo decarboxylation to generate the psychoactive THC. While CBDA is not known for producing a “high,” THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, particularly the CB1 receptors, resulting in its well-known psychoactive effects.

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Ethan Parker
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