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What is CBDa and Why Should I Care?

Pain is a universal human experience.  Athletes have knee pain, desk workers have wrist pain, parents have back pain; if you are a human, you have undoubtedly experienced some kind of pain of your own.  Sadly, in our country at least, we seem to have concluded that the only way to treat our pain is through dangerous and addictive drugs like opioids. 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2019 alone, an estimated 10.1 million people misused opioids. Specifically, 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers, and 745,000 people used heroin. 

The United States, while representing 4.4% of the world’s population, consumes 80% of the world’s opioids, including 99% of the world’s hydrocodone. What is worse: since 1999 in the U.S., 841,000 people have died from opioid overdose including 70,630 deaths in 2019 alone, according to the CDC. 

But what if there is a better, non-addictive, chemical-free, plant-based way to treat pain?  There is, it’s called CBDa, and it is a very misunderstood cannabinoid, so let’s talk about it.  Permit me to get all sciencey for a minute.


A Better, Non-Addictive, Chemical-Free, Plant-Based Pain Treatment

Often referred to as a “minor cannabinoid”, CBDa is actually one of the two most prevalent cannabinoids produced in the cannabis sativa plant (the other is THCa) and is the acidic precursor to the more famous cannabidiol (CBD). Because the usual methods of extraction use heat and/or chemical solvents such as ethanol, the CBDa gets decarboxylated into CBD, so the final product is not the raw, natural and highly effective CBDa. So why should you care about CBDa?

In a thorough meta-analysis of peer-reviewed, scientifically published journal articles, these are the most relevant medical findings for CBDa: 

  • The findings showed that CBDa and THCa were the most readily absorbed cannabinoids and were present at much higher levels in the blood as compared to the corresponding neutral cannabinoid.

  • A COX-2 selective drug would be able to provide anti-inflammatory effects without the adverse side effects as with NSAIDS. In a recent study, CBDa was found to be a potent COX-2 inhibitor having a 50% inhibition rate, meaning it acts as a selective COX-2 inhibitor which may mean less adverse effects as compared to traditional drugs. 

  • The results evidence CBDa as a potent anti-nausea agent, and at much lower dosages as compared to CBD. CBDa was also evidenced to be much more potent than CBD in this capacity, as CBD needed nearly 1000x the dosage of CBDa to be as effective at this 5HT1a serotonin receptor.

  • With increased 2-AG levels {from CBDa} we would be looking primarily at the possible neuroprotective effects. In a recent study it was found that 2-AG acts as a neuroprotectant in mice following a closed head injury (CHI). Infarct volume was significantly reduced in 2-AG-treated mice compared with that in vehicle-treated mice. Neuroprotective effects with CBDa: in the human brain it could be used as a preventative measure before high contact sports such as football or martial arts.

  • CBDa is effective at inhibiting the cellular uptake of anandamide (ACU). The effects of increased AEA on anxiety has been studied in rat models with success, giving anxiolytic results similar to benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium.

  • The higher bioavailability seen in CBDa and other acidic cannabinoids as compared to their downstream neutral products means in many cases the target or anticipated effect can be achieved more efficiently with lower dosages.

  • One of the most important effects seen is the COX-2 inhibition. The selectivity of CBDa to favor the inhibition of COX-2 and not COX-1 means it can act as a potent anti-inflammatory while avoiding the side-effects seen with traditional NSAIDs. This has massive implications as a replacement for traditional anti-inflammatory drugs.

  • CBDa is evidenced to be a highly potent, non-intoxicating, anti-nausea target and does not suffer from unforeseen consequences due to biphasic dosing as with CBD or THC.

So, if you can get chemical-free anti-inflammatory effects, (inflammation is the root of most diseases and illnesses in the modern world) from a natural and safe plant, why would you not? And why would you choose to damage the precious plant medicine through heat, chemicals, high pressure, and isolating / separating the molecules? I’d like to think it is simply because a different way is not widely known, and not because we enjoy over-chemicalizing nature or ourselves.

This is why to care about CBDa: it provides natural, plant-based, chemical free, and highly effective pain relief, and we all will benefit from that.