Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) are two cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Each has unique benefits and applications, but it is important to learn the difference between CBDA vs CBD. The conversion of CBDA to CBD is an important aspect of how cannabinoids interact with our bodies and further solidifies the medicinal properties contained within the hemp plant.
The cannabis plant can be divided into two separate categories based on the chemical makeup. The first type is known traditionally as “marijuana”. This variety is what is often ignited and inhaled in order to achieve a “high”. The main compound in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC has several medical applications as well, including pain relief, reduction of nausea, and increased appetite.
Hemp and the production of CBD and CBDA
The Second variety of the cannabis plant is known as hemp. Legally speaking, hemp is categorized as a cannabis plant that is not psychoactive and must contain less than .3% THC. It has long been used by many cultures for medicine, food, fiber, and a list of other applications. Chemically speaking, hemp contains large amounts of the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has gained a great deal of attention from the medical community and the population in general for its ability to help a large list of ailments.
The predominant non-psychoactive cannabinoid contained in the hemp plant known as CBD has demonstrated promising results relieving seizures, inflammation, anxiety, and a number of other conditions that are common amongst the population.
On the other hand, CBDA has received substantially less notoriety than CBD. It does have promising potential for medical applications, however far less research has been conducted. With the increasing popularity of CBD, many people wonder what the difference is between CBDA vs CBD.
What is CBDA? CBDA vs CBD
In order to have a better understanding of what CBDA is, it is important to have an understanding of the biosynthesis of cannabinoids. All of the cannabinoids in the hemp plant start as what is known as the “mother cannabinoid.” The mother cannabinoid is a compound known as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA).
Upon the biosynthesis of CBGA, plant enzymes convert CBGA into other cannabinoid precursors. The three major cannabinoid precursors compounds are tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). The particular concentrations of each compound vary due to the individual genetics of the plant.
Conversion of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), to cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), to cannabidiol (CBD).
In the case of CBDA, it is then converted into CBD by a process known as thermal decarboxylation. During this process, the particular temperature CBDA is exposed to causes the molecule to lose its acidic carboxyl group. Typically this process takes place when cannabis is ignited and inhaled, or it can occur over time at lower temperatures. Chemically speaking, decarboxylation is what distinguishes CBDA vs CBD.
Raw hemp material does contain large concentrations of CBDA, however little of it is consumed. The most common consumption methods convert CBDA to CBD. Each compound has different effects and benefits, however, in general taking CBDA can be difficult. This leads those wishing to target CBDA to untraditional methods of consumption. One popular way of consuming it is by juicing the cannabis plant. This leaves the CBDA intact because heat is not applied when juicing.
It is possible, but what benefits of CBDA vs CBD can be achieved? CBD is known to have a wide variety of benefits, but can CBDA offer something CBD itself cannot?
Can CBDA offer something CBD cannot?
Typically, acidic forms of cannabinoids such as CBDA have not been considered pharmacologically active. It is believed that these acidic forms of cannabinoids do not interact with the endocannabinoid system in the same manner as the decarboxylated forms do. The majority of the research that has been conducted by scientists have focused on the effects, benefits, and risks of CBD and THC.
With the soaring popularity of cannabis-derived products, the demand for research has increased greatly. A 2008 study revealed the molecular structure of CBDA resembles common anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This led the scientists to evaluate the potential use of CBDA for reducing inflammation. What they found was CBDA demonstrated the same COX-2 inhibitor behavior that enables NSAIDs to reduce inflammation.
A separate study conducted in 2013 performed by scientists in Guelph, Canada showed promise regarding using CBDA as a powerful treatment for nausea and anxiety. What was discovered was CBDA performed one thousand times as well compared to CBD in regards to binding to a specific serotonin receptor that aids in the regulation of nausea and anxiety. CBDA was administered in conjunction with low doses of the traditional anti-nausea drug used in chemotherapy, ondansetron (OND).
CBDA benefits and uses
It has been demonstrated that CBDA has the potential to have therapeutic benefit, however, it has not traditionally been considered as a viable clinical treatment. By nature, the structure of the compound is relatively unstable. This is demonstrated by the ability to gradually decarboxylate at room temperatures. This is one of the main reasons it has been widely disregarded for use in a clinical setting.
Despite CBDA being widely disregarded in the past, new research has surfaced regarding the potential use. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam has been researching cannabinoids for decades and was the first scientist to synthesize THC and CBD. In 2019 at the CannMed conference in California, Dr. Mechoulam announced that he and a group of other leading scientists began researching a way to transform the unstable CBDA into a more stable compound that retains the same therapeutic value of CBDA. It looks like CBDA vs CBD can now be referenced as CBDA and CBD due to the value of each.
“We have taken the unstable acid molecules of the cannabis plant and synthesized them to provide a stable, consistent basis for researching new therapies across a wide range of medical needs – from central nervous system disorders to inflammation and many more,” Mechoulam said in a statement.
Current research into the benefits of CBDA
Dr. Mechoulam and his team of researchers were able to stabilize CBDA by converting it into a methyl ester derivative. This derivative is known as cannabidiolic acid methyl ester, or HU-580 for short. A test of HU-580 was conducted on animals to combat depression. What the researchers confirmed was the compound still retains the ability to reduce anxiety and is chemically stable enough to hold up for use in clinical trials. This is great news for the cannabis and medical community. Further testing needs to be conducted for FDA approval but is well in the works.
“In addition, we have provided several delivery mechanisms including tablets, topical applications, and others to facilitate several approaches. Our work is a catalyst for the development of potential new therapies from a source long thought to have huge potential.”Dr. Mechoulam
This groundbreaking research was conducted by an international collaboration of scientists. Scientists involved in the discovery were from several universities in Israel, Canada, and the United States. This research collaboration demonstrates perfectly what can happen when people unite for the greater good. It is a testament to the dedication and ingenuity of these scientists and their individual research programs.
The parties involved hope to begin phase 1 clinical trials for FDA approval within the next year. Their hope is to further solidify the benefits of CBDA and add further clarification to CBDA vs CBD and the benefits of each. It is an exciting time to be involved in this revolutionary industry, and many sectors are making great strides daily.