Know Your Medicine: CBDA


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.

Scientists have long sought compounds that block COX-2 without blocking COX-1 — and CBDA does just that. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) work by blocking both COX enzymes — this is why they can cause side effects of bleeding, gut irritation, and ulcers. One particular NSAID, called celecoxib, is also a selective COX-2 inhibitor but has a long list of possible side effects including headaches, abdominal pain, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, insomnia, and more. There are no reports of these side effects with CBDA use. THCA, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, the precursor to THC, also inhibits COX-2 but is much less potent than CBDA.

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