What is CBDa?
Exactly what is CBDa? CBDa is a raw cannabis compound (called a cannabinoid) receiving considerable media attention for the new discovery its health benefits which include inhibiting the spread of breast cancer.
When the cannabis plant grows, its produces THCa and CBDa. CBDa is the acidic precursor of CBD. So when you heat CBDa, you get CBD. CBD is the non-acidic form of CBDa and has been getting significant attention in the news for its ability to treat intractable epilepsy, especially in children. More research is necessary to find out if CBDa may also offer similar efficacy like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and dystonia.
CBDa fights breast cancer
For the first time, in 2012 it was discovered that CBDa could inhibit the migration of human breast cancer cells. When breast cancer is present, COX-2 is an enzyme suspected to be the culprit involved in the migration of breast cancer cells. Studies have found that when CBDa is administered, COX-2 expression is inhibited. Therefore CBDA is now thought to be an inhibitor of COX-2 and a possible preventer of breast cancer metastasis.
- Anti-proliferative: Prevents cancer cells from spreading. CBDa, along with CBD, THC, and THC-A, has proven to be an effective anti-tumor treatment. Sometimes cannabinoids “re-program” cancer cells to kill themselves, actually shrinking tumors.
- Anti-inflammatory: Reduces inflammation throughout the body. Effective for conditions like arthritis and Crohn’s.
- Antibacterial: Slows bacterial growth, aiding in the fight against infection and bacteria-based conditions such as pneumonia, meningitis, ear infections, strep throat, food poisoning, ulcers, and gonorrhea.
- Anti-emetic: Reduces or eliminates nausea and vomiting. A 2013 study revealed that CBDa reduces vomiting in laboratory rats. The Schedule I status of cannabis prevents human trials from being conducted in the United States.
Technically speaking, Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDa) is one of the four possible outcomes of Cannabigerolic acid (CBGa) being processed into cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabichromic acid (CBCa), Tetrahydrocannabibolic acid (THCa), and CBDa. CBGa is processed into other cannabinoids by synthase enzymes, and the CBDa synthase was first purified and isolated in 1996. Coincidentally, this was the same year California passed Prop 215 and became the first medical cannabis state.
CBDa used to considered only minor player in the cannabinoid world, until recently. Higher amounts have been seen in ruderalis strains and recent hybrids like Cannatonic C-6 and ACDC have elevated levels of CBDa at potentially higher levels than THCa. Just like THCa, when heated, CBDa decarboxylates; as THCa becomes THC, CBDa becomes CBD. Like CBD, CBDa is not psychoactive. While there hasn’t been much research done on CBDa yet, the research that has been done is quite promising.
CBDa Therapeutic Uses
Antibacterial – Slows bacterial growth.
Anti-Emetic – Reduces vomiting and nausea.
Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation systemically.
Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.
Graphic: Halent Laboratories/http://steephill.com/
Leizer et al (2000) mention a strong correlation between the levels of CBDa in a plant and the CBD levels of the plant after synthase. They also mention that more CBDa present will mean greater antimicrobial potency in the resulting CBD. They do not explain the mechanisms at work.
A 2013 study shows that CBDa reduces vomiting and nausea by increasing activity at the 5-HT1A receptor. This means that CBDa can be used as a non-psychoactive alternative to THC to prevent vomiting and nausea. This isn’t the first study to show this, as a 2011 study found that CBDa functioned as an anti-emetic but did not pin the relation to the 5-HT1A receptor. More research should be done to properly explore this exciting new medicinal use for CBDa.
Anticipatory Nausea (AN) is a condition where someone vomits due to neutral stimuli, before they are actually nauseous. AN is very common in patients receiving chemotherapy, with roughly 29% developing it. AN appears to be the result of classical conditioning; given enough exposures to neutral stimuli, like the smells of the chemotherapy room, a susceptible person will begin to vomit before even receiving treatment. In a 2014 study, CBDa was shown to be a very effective treatment for sufferers of AN. In 2013, the same group of researchers found that CBDa was an effective treatment for acute nausea in chemotherapy patients.
As mentioned above, in 2012 CBDa joined THC, CBD, and numerous other cannabinoids that are anti-proliferatives. These cannabinoids control the growth of cancerous tumors. Takeda et al (2012) found that CBDa could inhibit the migration of human breast cancer cells. This government funded study recognized CBDa’s potential to mitigate the effects of cancer even in its more aggressive forms.”The data presented in this report suggest for the first time that [a] component in the cannabis plant, CBDa, offers potential therapeutic modality in the abrogation of cancer cell migration, including aggressive breast cancers.”
*Note: Decarboyxlation – A chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and releases CO2, often triggered by heat.
Cannabinoid Profiles Series
9. A Crash Course in CBDa [this post]