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What Is CBDA? Understanding the Acidic Cannabinoid

marijuana plant, cannabidiolic acid

Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant and the acidic precursor to cannabidiol (CBD). While there has been much buzz surrounding the benefits of CBD, its acidic counterpart, CBDA, has received less press.

Discover the unique therapeutic properties of CBDA, though they might not be quite as potent as those attributed to CBD. Learn about how you can experience the benefits of CBDA and discover cannabis strains high in this potent acidic cannabinoid. 

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How CBDA Works

Before cannabis goes through decarboxylation, the cannabinoid CBD exists in an acidic form called CBDA. After being heated and “decarbed,” cannabis is no longer in raw form, and the compounds in the plant naturally undergo a series of chemical changes. 

During this transition, CBDA is no longer acidic. Instead, as carbon dioxide (CO2) is released, CBDA becomes the chemically neutral cannabinoid CBD. At the same time, when CBDA becomes CBD, the result is an intensely therapeutic compound with the potential to heal. In this sense, CBD is not “neutral” but very strong and capable of treating conditions ranging from mild anxiety to chronic pain. 

CBDA may work best in combination with other cannabinoids and terpenes. This synergy of action is known as the entourage effect. So, CBDA could enhance the therapeutic potential of CBD and vice-versa. CBDA may also make terpenes like limonene and pinene even more powerful. 

In isolation, CBDA is probably not as potent as it has the potential to be in the entourage effect of “chemical teamwork.” To experience the entourage effect, look for products that are labeled as “full-spectrum” or “broad spectrum” if you have a sensitivity to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

Benefits and Uses

CBDA has multiple potential health benefits and medical uses. Here are some common ways that this acidic cannabinoid may be used, according to scientific research:

  • Anti-inflammatory – which is how NSAIDs like ibuprofen work to beat inflammation and assist with pain management
  • Anti-tumor with the potential to shrink both benign and cancerous tumors as well as possibly inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells
  • CBDA works on the serotonin receptors, making it potentially very useful for beating anxiety and nausea

Extensive research has been conducted on CBD and comparatively little research on CBDA. As research is limited on the potential health benefits of CBDA and most studies come from animal models, clinical trials involving people are essential. 

Possible Side Effects and Interactions

Similar to CBD, there are few adverse side effects associated with CBDA. Most of the potential side effects of CBDA are mild, as the cannabinoid is not very active in the body (bioactive) compared to CBD. Here are some side effects that you may experience when using CBDA:

  • Dry mouth (cottonmouth)
  • Drowsiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Mild mood changes

These side effects are more likely to occur if you take heavy doses of CBDA or use the cannabinoid frequently throughout the day. Consult with your physician if you experience any side effect that is bothersome or persistent. 

From antihistamines to antidepressants, there is a long list of medications that could interact with CBDA and CBD. To be safe, consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking CBDA with any prescription drug or over-the-counter medication. 

How to Use

Look for products with the words “raw CBD oil.” This labeling indicates that decarboxylation has not occurred, meaning that the product includes CBDA rather than CBD. Other good sources of CBDA include tinctures, creams, and gels. 

To fight localized inflammation from a muscle sprain or other minor injury, apply a drop or two of CBDA oil to the affected area. If you’re experiencing nausea, a dab of CBDA tincture placed directly under the tongue could offer relief. 

Speak with your doctor if you would like to use CBDA as a supplemental cancer treatment. While CBDA may have anti-tumor properties, your doctor will best be able to advise you about whether the cannabinoid is an appropriate adjunctive treatment. 

Cannabis Strains High in CBDA

Look for raw cannabis strains high in CBD to unlock the benefits of CBDA, which become even more potent when juiced with fruits and vegetables. THC-rich strains that have not yet been decarboxylated are likely to contain exceptional levels of CBDA. 

Here are some cannabis strains that have high CBD concentrations and, therefore, high CBDA content before decarbing:

  • Harlequin
  • Cannatonic
  • Ringo’s Gift
  • Pennywise
  • Sour Tsunami
  • Sweet and Sour Widow
  • Stephen Hawking Kush
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Remedy
  • Cherry Wine
  • Suzy Q
  • Sour Space Candy
  • Hawaiian Haze
  • Northern Lights

This list is just a sampling of high CBDA strains. Any marijuana strain that clocks in at more than 15% CBD content should be equally rich in CBDA before decarboxylation. 

Experience the benefits of CBDA and other cannabinoids legally with a medical marijuana card. Leafwell’s team of doctors is here to help you gain access to cannabis medicine by guiding you through the quick steps to applying for your MMJ card online. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is CBDA more effective than CBD?

The answer is: we’re not sure yet. While the jury is still out on whether CBDA is more effective than CBD, we can assert that the acidic cannabinoid has shown great promise for human health. As scientists move beyond tests on animal models and progress to clinical trials involving CBDA, we will know more about the cannabinoid’s efficacy.

What about CBDA and other acidic cannabinoids for COVID-19?

There’s been some recent research on CBDA and CBGA (cannabigerolic acid) and their efficacy for preventing COVID-19 (the original SARS-CoV-2 virus) infection. However, cannabinoids are not a cure or standard treatment for COVID-19.

Can I juice raw hemp or cannabis for CBDA and THCA?

Yes, juicing is an excellent way to experience the most potent form of CBDA and THCA possible. Blend with spinach, blueberries, and other superfoods in a breakfast smoothie and start your day.

What does CBDA help with?

CBDA may help treat nausea, digestive issues, and anxiety, all of which are frequently comorbid (occurring together). In addition, CBDA has been shown in certain studies to prevent the growth and spread of cancerous tumors. It is unclear whether CBDA offers the same pain relief potential as CBD.

Is CBDA anti-inflammatory?

Scientific research has shown that CBDA may have strong anti-inflammatory properties, perhaps on par with or even more effective than those of ibuprofen. This discovery makes CBDA potentially helpful in treating minor injuries and muscle tension.