Understanding the benefits of raw cannabis and CBDA

Cannabis scientists and users are constantly seeking out new ways to enjoy the numerous benefits of marijuana – now, the raw cannabis revolution has begun. It’s possible that consuming cannabis raw could be more beneficial for those treating inflammation, pain and nausea than heating it.

All sorts of plants seem to end up in the juicer nowadays, from conventional fruits and vegetables to lesser-known plants such as wheatgrass. Juicing raw cannabis is now being touted as the next “super juice,” with preliminary studies suggesting that the plant has remarkable medicinal properties in its raw state. When raw, there is a compound in cannabis called cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). Animal tests on this compound have demonstrated its anti-nausea and analgesic – or pain-relieving – properties. More research will enhance our knowledge of CBDA, but here’s what we know already.

Cannabidiolic acid explained

Present in the trichomes (or resin glands) of the cannabis plant, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is essentially the better-known cannabidiol (CBD) in its raw, unheated, uncured pre-activated form. It is thought that in fresh, raw cannabis, 95 percent of the eventual CBD compound is in its CBDA state.

CBDA becomes CBD through the process of decarboxylating, which occurs due to aging or by heating the plant. As the CBDA compound degrades, it transforms into  the activated CBD that we are more familiar with.

As expected, the strains with the most concentrated amounts of CBDA are strains that are high in CBD to begin with. CBD-rich cannabis doesn’t produce the same euphoric effects that high-THC strains do. These strains are vastly popular among medical cannabis patients, especially with those hesitant to smoke or vaporize the herb.

CBD strains have been popping up at dispensaries in legalized states more and more, as the information about the therapeutic compound spreads. Raw cannabis and CBDA may still be a phenomenon in waiting, but there’s no reason why up-to-speed cannabis users cannot purchase fresh CBD-dominant strains and juice them. Hemp plants also contain significant concentrations of CBDA.

As with CBD, taking CBDA will not induce a psychoactive trip. Unfortunately, we are still in the dark about many of CBD’s specific qualities, but we do know that CBD is an anxiolytic, a mood-booster and prominent natural pain reliever. Until recently, scientists considered CBDA to be an inactive compound that had to be turned into CBD for use as a medicine. But the latest research has cannabis experts revisiting cannabidiolic acid.

CBDA’s medicinal properties

Some innovative dispensaries and cannabis vendors stock raw cannabis extracts, but most cannabis users must make them themselves. Raw cannabis flower can be eaten, but the taste will likely be deeply unpleasant, which is why people juice it up with fruits and vegetables – to mask the flavor. CBDA is also in cannabis leaves, which can be whizzed into juices or added to a salad.

The potency and non-intoxicating nature of cannabidiolic acid is very useful to patients who need strong doses of cannabinoid medicines to treat their condition. But everybody can benefit from supplementing their diet with CBDA and other non-psychoactive cannabinoid acids.

Further research will hopefully confirm that CBDA is an antioxidant, painkiller, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative and anti-bacterial compound.

What ailments may be treatable with CBDA?

Unsurprisingly, conditions that are treatable with CBD respond encouragingly to CBDA as well. Interestingly, CBDA and CBD do not interact with the body in the same way. There is speculation that CBDA isn’t as potent as CBD, hence why CBDA dosages tend to be so high.

The bioavailability of CBD may also be greater than CBDA, making it a more efficient compound. But taking raw cannabis as a source of nutrition also has plenty of benefits. It may not be a case of one being better than the other, but that each is more suited to certain situations.

Most research surrounding CBDA focusses on decarboxylating the acid into CBD products and studying the cannabinoid in its “activated” states. However, small pockets of cannabis scientists are diligently studying the therapeutic effects of cannabidiolic acid. Let’s delve into some of this research.

1) Anxiety and other mental health disorders

That GW Pharmaceuticals have patented CBDA as a medicine for psychotic disorders is enough reason to believe that the cannabinoid has serious therapeutic potential in this area. But there’s currently a lack of high-quality research to back up that presumption.

For GW to have been granted a patent indicates there’s enough science to warrant more studies into CBDA as a pharmaceutical drug. GW’s patent involves a few cannabinoids, including CBD, CBC, CBG and THCV. Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. partnered with GW to apply for the patent back in 2011.

2) Nausea

Raw cannabis may be the answer to both an icky stomach and full-blown nausea. CBDA was first highlighted as a possible anti-nausea compound in 2012, after the cannabinoid was administered to rats and shrews. CBDA reduced the nausea and vomiting symptoms of the rats more notably than CBD. This may be thanks to CBDA’s activation of the obscure 5-HT1A receptor.

5-HT1A is a serotonin receptor present in humans and animals. Serotonin receptors are best known for having an influence on depression, but it could possibly have an effect on nausea and vomiting too.

After being treated with CBDA, the rats experienced a spike in activity among their 5-HT1A receptors. While correlation does not imply causation, this is a curious finding worthy of more research.

3) Inflammatory conditions – such as arthritis

The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD and THC are well-documented, but studies on CBDA’s possible anti-inflammatory effects are sorely lacking in both humans and animals. That said, studies involving cell cultures have demonstrated that CBDA’s effects are relatable to those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as Ibuprofen and Aspirin.

NSAIDS have become the mainstream standard for anti-inflammatory medication, although these drugs are far from perfect and some have damaging side effects. NSAIDS can cause headaches, high blood pressure and make kidney damage and stomach ulcers more likely.

CBDA’s interactions with the COX-2 enzyme may explain why the cannabinoid acid’s effects are akin to those of NSAIDS. Pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories are designed to target COX-2. In linking with the COX-2 enzyme, CBDA does something that most cannabinoids – including potent anti-inflammatory THC – do not.

Many patients with inflammatory issues such as arthritis are finding answers with raw cannabis juice and green juices in general. These beverages are packed with vital, untouched nutrients essential for promoting good health. It’s high time that inflammation patients have better alternatives to NSAIDS and are no longer faced with the threat of kidney complications or ulcers. As always with cannabis, we just need more research to determine whether it’s the most effective and efficient medication.

Final thoughts on CBDA

When heated, all strains will lose their CBDA, no matter how potent in the compound they were to start with. As we know, that CBDA turns into CBD. Therefore, a strain high in CBD will initially be high in CBDA.

Even better for medical users, THC is not found in raw marijuana. Like CBD, THC is in a pre-activated state in raw cannabis, in this case as tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA). THCA is not psychoactive, allowing cannabis users who need large doses of THCA to medicate without having to get very, very high.

Both high-THCA and high-CBDA strains are safe to eat and drink, and neither will produce a psychoactive trip. However, raw cannabis juice can give you a nice little mood boost – the anxiety-reducing properties of CBDA probably play a role in this.

If you’re looking for lots and lots of CBDA, check out high-CBD strains such as the famous Charlotte’s Web, the one-to-one strains of Pennywise and Canna-Tsu, along with the ever-popular Harlequin. Since THCA is non-intoxicating, a one-to-one strain with sizeable concentrations of CBDA and THCA may give you the most helpful therapeutic experience.

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