If you’re new to the world of medical cannabis, you might just have got your head around what CBD is. But did you know that CBD has a precursor called CBDa, which research suggests also has some pretty interesting effects on the body? In the past it was considered to be inactive, but in the medical cannabis world there is a quiet buzz surrounding this much underappreciated compound.
So let’s take a look at nine amazing facts about CBDa that may make you reconsider which CBD product you buy in the future.
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1. If You Picked Hemp Straight from the Plant, You’d Find Mostly CBDa and Very Little CBD
That’s right, when you see pictures of hemp and cannabis plants growing in a field, they actually contain very little of the cannabinoids they are most known for. That’s because both CBD and THC require continued heat and/or ageing to be transformed from their acidic precursors.
This heat process, otherwise known as decarboxylation, leads to the removal of the carboxyl group, and so CBDa becomes CBD (and THCA, THC). Most CBD products on the market are decarboxylated and therefore contain very little CBDa.
2. CBDa Doesn’t Interact with the Endocannabinoid System
If you’re familiar with cannabinoids, the compounds found in cannabis like THC and CBD, you will also probably be aware of the endocannabinoid system - the body’s complex network of receptor sites and cannabis-like chemicals called endocannabinoids. It acts like a kind of dimmer switch, ensuring that there is homeostasis, or balance, in the body. While it is thought that CBD indirectly stimulates the endocannabinoid system by increasing the levels of the feel-good endocannabinoid anandamide in the body, so far studies suggest that CBDa doesn’t interact with the endocannabinoid system. Instead, CBDa affects other non-endocannabinoid receptors and enzymes.
3. All Scientific Research on CBDa Has Been in Preclinical Trials and Not on Humans
Compared to CBD there has been far less research carried out on CBDa, with all studies so far being at the preclinical stage, meaning they are carried out on cell cultures or animal models. However, GW Pharma has taken out a number of patents on CBDa, as they believe there is sufficient evidence to warrant further exploration as a pharmaceutical drug, based on preclinical results.
4. CBDa May be an Anti-Epilepsy Drug of the Future
One such patent is on CBDa for seizures. Despite GW Pharma having a CBD-based drug about to be approved by the FDA for treating rare types of epilepsy such as Dravet Syndrome, the compound does have some limitations, such as its poor bioavailability and the it required high dosing. GW Pharma have found that far lower amounts of CBDa are needed to get a therapeutic effect, making it potentially more cost effective and less likely to cause side effects. Not only that, it has a superior bioavailability, which they suggest could mean a quicker onset of the effects. In fact, the company envisage combining both cannabinoids as an epilepsy drug of the future as “CBDa may be useful in providing a rapid onset effect whereas the CBD may be useful in providing a sustained effect.”
5. CBDA May Combat Feelings of Nausea
In states and countries where medical cannabis is legal, THC is commonly prescribed for nausea and vomiting. However, apart from there being a geographical restriction to its use, many people find the psychoactive effect of THC hard to bare. This could be where CBDa comes in.
A number of studies into CBDa have examined its anti-nausea effect. Like CBD, CBDa activates the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor. More commonly associated with regulating mood and anxiety, this receptor also plays a part in controlling feelings of nausea and vomiting. A study carried out on rodents found that CBDa was more effective at reducing vomiting compared to CBD, concluding that “CBDa shows promise as a treatment for nausea and vomiting, including anticipatory nausea for which no specific therapy is currently available.”
6. CBDa is Anti-inflammatory and Might Inhibit Pain
CBDa has also been found to show anti-inflammatory potential. So far, research hasn’t made it beyond the preclinical stage, but scientists have found that CBDa inhibits key inflammatory mediators called the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. COX-2, in particular, is responsible for a wide variety of inflammation responses in the body, and its inhibition is one of the key mechanisms of common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Research is very much in its infancy regarding CBDa’s role as a potential pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory drug. The next stage would be to test the cannabinoid on animal models and eventually humans.
7. CBDa Could Stop Cancer Cells Spreading in Breast Cancer
Again, research is in its initial stages when it comes to investigating CBDa and cancer, but so far, the results are promising. One study conducted on cell cultures found that CBDa prevented the migration of certain human breast cancer cells, suggesting potential to limit metastasis in aggressive forms of the cancer. Another subsequent study found that CBDa’s COX-2 inhibition also had particular significance in breast cancer, where the enzyme, a mediator of breast cancer metastasis, was reduced along with other genes involved in the spread of breast cancer cells.
8. CBDa May Help Depression
CBD’s anti-anxiety effect has been much remarked upon and has even been studied on humans with social anxiety. But it looks like CBDa might also show mood-enhancing potential. Like CBD, CBDa activates the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor, known to modulate feelings of well-being and anxiety. In a recent study conducted on rats, published in the European Neuropsychopharmacology, CBDa was found to have antidepressant effects at doses 10-100 times smaller than CBD. Again, these findings have yet to be replicated in humans and further research is needed.
9. CBDa And CBD Work Well Together
As more research is carried out into CBDa, it is becoming apparent that less of the cannabinoid is needed to get a therapeutic effect compared to its decarboxylated cousin. The suggestion being that by combining the two compounds, patients can take a smaller dose and may also benefit from a more rapid onset of effects.
Right now, the market is flooded with CBD-only preparations. Not surprising, considering it is the subject of far greater research. But could the future actually lie in extractions that combine CBD and CBDa together, just like our Endoca Raw Hemp Oil range?