Know Your Medicine
Cannabidiolic acid or CBDA is one of the non-intoxicating phytocannabinoids found in the raw unheated cannabis plant. CBGA, cannabigerolic acid, is the parent compound to both THCA and CBDA. As the cannabis flower matures, CBGA is converted to CBDA by the enzyme CBDA synthase, first discovered in 1996 by researchers in Japan. CBGA is also the parent compound to THCA, via the enzyme THCA synthase. Unfortunately, there is very little research on CBDA despite recent studies showing potent anti-inflammatory effects and anticancer potential.
CBDA is a potent anti-inflammatory,
working by selectively inhibiting an enzyme in our bodies called COX-2. This enzyme is triggered when you experience injury or infection, and it produces compounds called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins promote inflammation, and although this is a natural response, it can be the source of significant pain and at times, cell destruction. CBDA reduces the production of prostaglandin by blocking the COX-2 enzyme. Less prostaglandin equals less inflammation. There is also a COX-1 enzyme, which when triggered, activates blood clotting and protection of the lining of the gut.
A fascinating experiment wherein volunteers ingested unheated cannabinoids (THCA and CBDA) along with heated cannabinoids (THC and CBD) found that ingesting unheated cannabinoids along with heated cannabinoids resulted in higher CBD plasma levels when compared to heated cannabinoids alone. Unfortunately, the mechanism of this effect is unknown. The authors of this study theorized that unheated cannabinoids “may beneficially affect the uptake and metabolism of CBD and other phytocannabinoids.”
Another study showed that CBDA inhibited highly invasive breast cancer cells (called MDA-MB-231 cells) from metastasizing.
These cells are unresponsive to hormonal treatment and considered very difficult to treat. The researchers discovered that CBDA turned off the chemical signals that these particular cancer cells send to each other telling them to spread. Although this study was conducted in test tubes, not in animals or humans, it is quite promising and demands further investigation.
Research also shows that CBDA is sporostatic (stops mold spores from reproducing) and antibacterial, although these properties have not been studied in humans.
Patients are taking CBDA by either ingesting juice made from the flowers and leaves of the raw cannabis plant, using a chemovar that has CBD genetics such as AC/DC, Charlotte’s Web, Cannatonic, and others. CBDA is also available in a capsule containing raw ground flower and leaves or in the form of oil- or alcohol-based tinctures that are produced without heat.
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