For the most time in human history, hemp has played an important role, providing food, medications, and was used in various industries. It is the hemp fiber and fabric made from it that made the discovery of many continents possible. It seems that now people are discovering new uses of hemp extract with the help of science.

Studies show that hemp extract is rich in various cannabinoids. However, cannabidiol (CBD) has till now received the most attention. But things are changing fast. Studies show that various cannabinoids have different mechanisms of action. Therefore, there is a need to know more about each cannabinoid.

Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA) is a precursor of CBD and is present in large amounts in hemp. Decarboxylation of CBDA through heat and storage results in its conversion to CBD. Currently, the industry is converting most CBDA to CBD via decarboxylation by applying heat to cannabis extract. However, some researchers think that it may be good to preserve this acidic compound.

What is CBDA?

Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA) is a precursor of CBD, but it has many unique properties. Unlike CBD, it is acidic. On applying heat to CBDA or prolonged storage of cannabis plant, it may get converted to better known CBD. CBDA is abundant in various parts of the plant that are generally rejected.

It means that CBDA can be pretty economical to extract. Moreover, researchers think they have been mistaken to view it just as a precursor to CBD, something that must be converted to CBD. Studies into the unique properties of CBDA only started a few decades back. New experiments show that it has quite different properties when compared to CBD. Thus, it may be used alone or along with CBD for more significant health benefits.

What does CBDA do to the Human Body?

Studies show that, unlike CBD that primarily works by influencing endocannabinoid receptors, CBDA has a different mode of action. As a result, it may help reduce the production of some of the early inflammation markers like IL-2, INF-gamma, and many more. 

It also might reduce the activity of the COX-2 enzyme. This particular enzyme plays a vital role in inflammation and pain induction in humans. Further, CBDA influences TRP-type receptors that have a crucial role in pain mediation.

Interestingly enough, in experimental studies in mice, researchers found that it may even stimulate serotonin receptors in the brain. This may have various effects on the brain. For example, it may have a role in reducing nausea. Thus, such stimulation of serotonin receptors may play a role in preventing substance addiction. However, it is still not clear if this mechanism can help fight mood or emotional disorders.

Researchers are also focusing on the CBDA actions like its ability to help in seizures or suppress the growth of cancer cells, and much more.

It is worth understanding that these are still very early findings, nonetheless, highly encouraging findings. There is still a need for more studies and to carry out clinical trials in humans. Nevertheless, these early findings provide hope that we may see the emergence of more cannabis-based therapies in the future. It also highlights that there is still a lot to understand about cannabis extract and how various cannabinoids work together, resulting in the entourage effect.

Potential Benefits of CBDA

Figure 1 health benefits of CBDA (Image source: Formato M, Crescente G, Scognamiglio M, et al. (‒)-Cannabidiolic Acid, a Still Overlooked Bioactive Compound: An Introductory Review and Preliminary Research. Molecules. 2020;25(11):2638.)

 

Studies show that CBDA may help in many ways. It appears to help suppress inflammation. Thus, it may have a use in local inflammatory conditions like joint pains. There is still a need to understand if it can help prevent low-grade inflammation and reduce the risk of various chronic disorders.

Some of the pathways that are involved in inflammation are also responsible for causing pain. CBDA may be suitable for suppressing pain related to inflammation. It may also work for non-inflammatory pains like those caused by neuropathies in diabetes or pains associated with cancer.

Cannabidiol acid may stimulate serotonin receptors in certain parts of the brain. It may explain its potent anti-emetic properties. CBD acid may also help keep calm, improve mood, and enhance sleep quality. There is a need to understand if it can help in more severe conditions like anxiety disorder or depression.

CBDA may help prevent convulsions. There are already cannabis drugs approved for use in certain epileptic conditions. Therefore, it is entirely possible that CBDA may also help in many such conditions.

Although it also exerts anti-cancer activity, it is unclear if it can help prevent or treat cancer. Nonetheless, experimental studies show that it may have certain benefits.

Manufacturing CBDA Products

CBDA might be isolated from cannabis. However, most methods used to separate it from other cannabinoids are experimental. Thus, at present, it would be difficult to isolate it with the use of conventional extraction methods used by the cannabis industry, like hydrocarbon or CO2 extraction. 

Nonetheless, isolating pure CBDA is possible. It may be achieved with the use of well-known methods called chromatographic techniques. It is regarded relatively inexpensive and straightforward way of isolating the compound. Moreover, this method helps get relatively high purity CBDA.

Further, it is worth noticing that decarboxylation is a frequently used strategy in CBD extraction. This helps convert acidic CBDA to neutral CBD. Thus, those looking to preserve CBDA in whole cannabis extract should avoid decarboxylation.

At present, the best way to create products with CBDA is to use broad-spectrum distillates, as they contain it in smaller amounts. Or even better, extract the cannabinoid using supercritical CO2 without decarboxylation of the plant material.

To conclude, CBDA is a poorly understood compound to date. However, it is one of the most abundant compounds in cannabis. Therefore, there is a real need to explore this molecule, understanding its health benefits better. Moreover, studies show that it is also present in hemp plant parts that are generally rejected as waste products. But, regretfully, CBDA remains a largely unknown cannabinoid due to the greater popularity of CBD.

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