Understanding CBDA Side Effects: What You Should Know
The oil extracted from hemp stalks, stems, and flowers contains more than 480 potentially beneficial components, including more than 100 individual cannabinoids (Pollastro et al., 2018). For decades, most of the research investigating the possible benefits of these fascinating compounds focused almost entirely on the plant elements "activated" by heat and sunlight, cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol), THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and CBG (cannabigerol) (Takeda et al.,2008).
Over the past few years, researchers have been taking a second look at the "raw" forms of several cannabinoids once considered "inert," including CBDA (cannabidiolic acid). With current evidence suggesting CBDA works differently than many other cannabinoids, it's only natural to wonder about the risk of potentially harmful side effects. Although hemp-derived products are generally considered safe for most people, there are a few things you should know before using CBDA.
What Is CBDA?
CBDA is an acidic cannabinoid produced in hemp and marijuana strains producing larger amounts of CBD. The cannabinoid is found in its highest concentrations before crops are harvested, the plants are dried, or their oil extracted. Although CBDA is the acidic precursor of CBD, it's not the first cannabinoid produced in the plant. That distinction belongs to an entirely different cannabinoid, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). As hemp plants mature, an enzymatic reaction converts CBGA to CBDA, THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), and CBCA (cannabichromenic acid) (Cai et al., 2020).
Raw hemp extract contains relatively high concentrations of CBDA. But product manufacturers typically heat the oil to speed decarboxylation, the process that converts CBDA to CBD. Allowing CBDA to remain in its natural state requires keeping temperatures used during extraction and product manufacturing below 230° F (Schmidt, 2020).
What Are the Benefits of CBDA?
The overall effects of CBDA and CBD are similar but not the same. Researchers credit the potentially beneficial effects of CBD to the cannabinoid's ability to interact with several molecular targets, including the endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptors CB1 and CB2, in a way that helps maintain homeostasis (Sallaberry & Astern, 2018). CBDA has a low affinity for ECS receptors. Instead, the cannabinoid helps enhance the overall potency of full spectrum (and broad spectrum) CBD products by contributing to an "entourage" effect, a theory used to explain how the interaction of the many minor cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis help maximize the impact of each plant component (Nahler et al., 2019).
However, current research suggests CBDA's therapeutic potential extends far beyond its contributions to the overall potency of CBD products. Although CBDA does not have a strong affinity with ECS receptors, lab results suggest it has a direct impact on serotonin system receptors (Rock et al., 2020a). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter essential for metabolic and digestive function, emotional regulation, transmitting signals between nerve cells, and more (Jonnakuty et al., 2008). Now that you know how CBD and CBDA work, consider how you might benefit from their combined health and wellness potential.
Calming Mild or Temporary Anxiety
The signs and symptoms of mild or temporary anxiety, including muscle tension, digestive distress, and racing thoughts, are typically caused by a stress-induced surge of cortisol and adrenaline (Brosschot et al., 2016). The greater the duration of distress, the longer it can take to relax and unwind. Based on the feedback of more than 2000 survey respondents, 89% report that CBD helps calm their minds, and 88% tell us that CBD helps with mild or temporary anxiety.
Although CBDA's possible benefits are not as well-researched as CBD's, preliminary reports based on lab results, animal studies, and user testimonials are encouraging. Based on laboratory models of situational distress, researchers credit CBDA's effect on serotonin receptors for its apparently positive impact on emotional regulation (Hen-Shoval et al., 2018), effects that also suggest possible benefits for calming mild or temporary anxiety and enhancing feelings of overall well-being.
A Good Night's Sleep
Changes in routine, racing thoughts, and frequent waking can keep you from getting the rest you need to face the morning feeling refreshed. According to the results of our internal survey, 9 out of 10 CBD users report that CBD helps them get better sleep. Although just about any high-quality CBD product could help improve sleep duration and overall quality, CBDA is easier for your body to utilize (Pellesi et al., 2018).
While there's little research focused on CBDA's sleep-promoting potential specifically, we do know that serotonin plays an essential role in sleep cycle regulation and melatonin production, your natural sleep hormone (Khullar, 2012). Since there are numerous reasons a person might have trouble falling asleep, wake frequently, or wake too early, the best way to know if CBDA could help you get a good night's sleep is to try it.
Possible Skin Benefits
The CBD in hemp-derived tinctures, gummies, and capsules interacts with the ECS receptors throughout the body and brain. When applied topically, CBD penetrates the skin and interacts with the ECS receptors found on nearly every type of skin cell. That includes the receptors regulating oil production, turnover rates, inflammation, and collagen formation. The impact of that interaction is believed to help restore balance (homeostasis) (Toth et al., 2019).
CBDA molecules are also small enough to interact with important chemical receptors below the skin's surface. Current evidence suggests CBDA's influence on the skin's serotonin receptors inhibits COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2). COX-2 enzymes produce prostaglandins, hormone-like substances linked to inflammation (Adelizzi, 1999), a contributing factor in the development of several common skin concerns.
Help with Discomfort After Physical Activity
The discomfort so many people feel after strenuous activity is often the result of microscopic tears in muscle fibers. While essential for building endurance and strength, that damage triggers an immune system response linked to inflammation and pain (Cheung & Hume, 2003), functions regulated by ECS signaling. According to the feedback of our survey respondents, most CBD users report relief of pain (84%) and stiffness after physical activity.
Although CBDA works differently than CBD, current evidence suggests the cannabinoid's impact on serotonin receptors could also be beneficial for post-activity discomfort. In laboratory tests, CBDA's impact on COX-2 inhibits the breakdown of anandamide (Yang et al., 2008). Anandamide is an ECS messenger produced in your body that plays an important role in numerous functions, including inflammatory responses, transmitting signals between nerve cells, and the perception of pleasure and pain (Self, 1999).
What Are the Side Effects of CBDA?
Unfortunately, there's little research specifically investigating CBDA's possible side effects. With that being said, you may find it helpful to know that hemp-derived cannabinoids that have been studied are considered generally well-tolerated and safe for most people (WHO, 2018). For now, most of the anticipated side effects of CBDA are based on what we know about CBD and other non-intoxicating cannabinoids, the possibility of developing a dry mouth, upset stomach, diarrhea, changes in appetite, or fatigue (Bergamaschi et al., 2011).
Although side effects are possible, most (93%) of our survey respondents report experiencing no adverse effects from hemp-derived CBD products. However, it's important to keep in mind that CBDA, CBD, and other plant-sourced cannabinoids can interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications or inhibit their metabolization (MacCallum & Russo, 2018). Since preliminary investigations suggest CBDA interacts with serotonin system receptors and inhibits COX-2, consult your health care provider before using CBDA (or any other hemp-derived cannabinoid) if you have a medical condition or take medication, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
Does CBDA Cause Drowsiness?
According to a report published in Psychopharmacology, CBDA does not appear to produce the somewhat sedating effects associated with several other cannabinoids, including CBD, CBN (cannabinol), and THC (Brierly et al., 2016). However, that information is based on the results of animal tests. Every person using hemp-derived products has a unique physical chemistry. If you're concerned about CBDA causing fatigue, drowsiness, or any other issue, consider starting with partial servings until you're more familiar with the way your body responds.
Does CBDA Cause Intoxication?
Like CBD, CBDA does not cause intoxication. That distinction is held by a cannabinoid with a slightly different chemical structure, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The potentially intoxicating effects of THC are the direct results of its ability to bind with the CB1 receptors in the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebral cortex (Iversen, 2003). CBDA has a low affinity with this receptor and does not bind. If you're looking for a hemp-derived CBD product with just enough THC for rest, relaxation, and a mild buzz, consider trying CBDistillery® Synergy+ THC+ CBD Gummies.
Is CBDA Stronger than CBD?
In full spectrum (and broad spectrum) CBD products, CBDA helps maximize CBD's overall potency through its contributions to an entourage effect. Although CBDA was once considered "inert" on its own, current investigations suggest that some of CBDA's effects could be several times more potent than CBD's (Rock et al., 2020b). Not only could using a tincture with higher concentrations of CBDA give you more of what you might use hemp-derived products for, recent studies show that CBDA helps improve the "absorption and retention" of CBD (Wakshlag et al., 2020), meaning the two cannabinoids could work even better together.
How Long Does It Take for CBDA to Work?
Most CBD users report favorable results using our hemp-derived products for relaxation, better sleep, and discomfort after physical activity. Although CBDA is not yet researched as extensively as its popular offspring, the response to our Raw Synergy CBDA + CBD Oil Tincture has been overwhelmingly positive. While you're sure to find reports from people claiming impressive results within hours of their first serving, everyone is different. You may need to be patient as you keep in mind that most of our survey respondents report achieving their best results within 7-14 days of consistent use.
However, you may want to avoid adding your CBDA tincture to hot beverages, baked goods, soups, or sauces. Exposing CBDA to high temperatures converts the cannabinoid to CBD. Instead, hold a serving of your raw tincture beneath your tongue for 45-60 seconds, then swallow. This (sublingual) method allows the cannabinoids to absorb through the blood vessels beneath your tongue. You'll get faster-acting results and better bioavailability. (Millar et al., 2020).
Are You Ready to Try CBDA?
Not that long ago, cannabis researchers believed converting the CBDA in cannabis plants to CBD helped ensure maximum health and wellness potential. Today, it's clear there are many advantages to keeping the cannabinoid in its natural state. As you're contemplating your options, keep in mind that CBDA concentrations and overall product quality can vary by brand.
CBDistillery® Raw Synergy CBDA + CBD Oil Tincture gives you all the benefits of our full spectrum CBD oil with enough CBDA to achieve a 1:1 CBDA to CBD ratio. Each bottle gives you 500mg of CBDA, 500mg of CBD, the benefit-maximizing potential of an enhanced entourage effect, and a robust terpene profile unique to raw hemp extract. Plus, our Raw Synergy tincture is third-party tested for purity and potency, US Hemp Authority® Certified, and backed by a no-risk satisfaction guarantee. To learn more, visit CBDistillery® to download our Ultimate CBD User Guide or set up a personal consultation with an expert.
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