Over the past several years the world has been introduced to the power of CBD, a compound that didn’t get the recognition it deserved for decades. Now, as researchers begin to explore other cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant, they are continually learning more and more about the other powerful compounds it possesses and how they can be used medicinally to help individuals suffering from a wide variety of temporary and chronic ailments.
What Are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds found within the cannabis plant. These compounds trigger various chemical reactions inside the human body by attaching themselves to receptors in many of the body’s systems, which results in a number of effects felt by the user. All cannabinoids are able to work with the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) by attaching themselves to receptors and altering the chemical structure. The ECS controls the homeostasis of a number of internal systems, so it’s possible for cannabinoids to provide therapeutic results to those different parts of the body.
Cannabis is well known for producing the cannabinoid THC and, more recently, cannabidiol (CBD) has been getting more recognition. However cannabis also produces more than one hundred other cannabinoids, albeit in smaller quantities. Because the level of these cannabinoids is so much lower than those of THC and CBD, it’s difficult for researchers to know exactly how many other cannabinoids exist in the cannabis plant but they have been able to gather data on the handful of cannabinoids that are present in more substantial amounts.
The Entourage Effect
While each of these cannabinoids on its own has the potential to be a powerful and healing compound, the real magic happens when they are all combined together. When all of the cannabinoids are allowed to work in combination together they have the ability to amplify the effect. Research has shown that removing even one of these compounds may reduce the effectiveness of the compounds compared to the results when they are left combined. This is called the Entourage Effect and is a major benefit of consuming full spectrum CBD or whole flower marijuana or hemp .
What is CBDA
Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) was first isolated by a scientist in 1965. It was discovered that by exposing CBDA to enough heat or sunlight it would go through a powerful chemical reaction called decarboxylation, causing it to lose the carboxyl group and transform itself into CBD. Generally the process of decarboxylation has been associated with cannabis, however scientists have discovered the same chemical reaction happens during normal cellular respiration. It’s the specific chemical reaction that causes humans to exhale CO2 after metabolism.
Scientists discovered that these compounds activated from the cannabinoids helped produce more therapeutic benefits, but more recently they’ve discovered that the activation of CBDA’s serotonin receptors makes it significantly more potent than CBD. CBDA has also been found to have a stronger binding ability to these receptors than CBD . What does this mean? First it’s important to know how cannabinoids interact with the human body. In the next section we’ll discuss the power of the endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid System
Cannabinoids have a very specific effect on the human system. The endocannabinoid system functions as a way to stabilize the body and return to homeostasis when fluctuations happen. If some sort of disruption is introduced in the body, the ECS will activate and control the situation to make sure all systems it controls remain at an optimal level. This is a fundamental function of human physiology because all the internal systems need to be in a state of equilibrium to work effectively.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system:
- Endocannabinoids: Compounds that are produced by the body, but are very similar to the chemical compounds in cannabis, like CBDA, CBD, or CBG.
- Cannabinoid Receptors: Receptors found on the surface of cells throughout the body. Any endocannabinoids or ingested cannabinoids will bind to these receptors. The action of binding allows them to communicate with different systems in the body, helping the ECS maintain an equilibrium in each of the specific systems.
- Enzymes: After endocannabinoids attach themselves to the cannabinoid receptors and the ECS has maintained stabilization, enzymes break down the endocannabinoids to prevent overcorrection. Each type of endocannabinoid has a specific enzyme that works at breaking it down effectively.
The endocannabinoid system maintains equilibrium in the immune, digestive, and nervous systems among others. Because cannabinoids can so easily interact with the ECS they are able to have an effect on any number of issues that may arise within those systems, making them potentially powerful tools to use when battling certain conditions and diseases.
What CBDA Helps
As mentioned, CBDA is a very powerful resource for boosting serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter most well known for its role in mood regulation, but that is also immensely helpful to physiological functions too.
Research has shown that CBDA’s ability to activate serotonin receptors makes it helpful when combating nausea and vomiting in rats. In fact, this research provided evidence that CBDA is actually more effective at controlling nausea and vomiting than even CBD. CBDA was found to suppress nausea and vomiting caused by both toxins and motion sickness .
Perhaps some of the most exciting research for CBDA comes in its ability to help reduce anticipatory nausea, which is a type of severe nausea chemotherapy patients often experience prior to treatment. Unfortunately there have been no cases of successful treatment of anticipatory nausea with pharmaceutical medications, so finding CBDA to be effective is a major breakthrough for those who suffer .
Another study showed that CBDA assisted in the anti-nausea effects of prescribed pharmaceuticals more than CBD alone could do. An individual would need 1000 times less CBDA when compared to CBD for the same anti-nausea effect .
CBD has been celebrated for its ability to help control seizures, especially in children. In fact, currently the only FDA approved medication made with CBD is an anti-seizure prescription. The makers of this drug have also started researching what effect CBDA can have on seizures and have so far seen promising results. The scientists have so far found CBDA to have better bioavailability (how quickly and effectively the compound is absorbed into the system) and an overall faster onset than CBD . The study also showed that CBDA could prove to be more effective at reducing seizures within a certain set of parameters. This makes CBDA a very interesting topic for researchers across the globe.
Just like CBD, CBDA has powerful anti-inflammation properties that make it appealing to people suffering from assorted issues. CBDA may be especially effective against inflammation of the stomach and intestines because it acts as a selective inhibitor for a specific receptor attached to those systems. Like CBD, it has also been found to be much safer than traditional steroids when it comes to relieving inflammation in patients, since steroids often come with long term side effects and consequences .
Interestingly enough, researchers have also found a connection between CBDA’s ability to control inflammation by specifically targeting one receptor to also help in its ability to prevent the spread of a certain type of breast cancer. This evidence is all preliminary and researchers have a lot more work to do before coming to any concrete conclusions, but this early research suggests CBDA may help spread malignant cells in breast cancer .
How to Find CBDA
Finding quality products in a market that is otherwise unregulated can be challenging for any consumers, especially those new to the cannabis market. It’s always advisable to carefully check the label of the product you’re purchasing, especially the ingredients. If you find a cannabis oil that contains CBDA you can feel comfortable in knowing that it is most likely a full-spectrum product and will provide you with maximum results, including the entourage effect. When in doubt, ask for help. Almost all manufacturers and retailers want you to be comfortable with the product you’re purchasing and feel confident that you’ve selected the right product for your needs. A simple question about quality or ingredients can save a lot of time and trouble later, so keep asking questions until you’re confident in the product and company.