If you’ve been reading up on our blog, then the 4 letter acronym CBDa may sound familiar — minus that last part, the whole “a” thing.
So...what is CBDa?
To put it super simply, it’s a close relative of CBD that provides many of the same benefits as related cannabinoids.
Keep reading to learn what CBDa is, where it comes from, and how it might be worth adding to your plant-powered routine.
- What is CBDa?
- How is CBDa made?
- CBDa top benefits
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced nausea
- Reduced seizures
- Increased calmness
What is CBDa?
CBDa (cannabidiolic acid) is one of the many cannabinoid compounds produced by the cannabis/hemp plant. CBDa — not CBD — is actually the primary cannabinoid present in growing hemp. This “raw” cannabinoid only gets converted to CBD when exposed to light or heat.
While less well-known than THC or CBD, CBDa has been found to have a variety of anti-inflammatory and anti-stress effects.
How is CBDa made?
As a hemp plant grows and matures, it goes through several phases. A very young hemp plant barely contains any cannabinoids at all; instead it produces small amounts of a metabolic intermediary called olivetolic acid.
From there, olivetolic acid gets converted into the mother cannabinoid, CBGa.
Next, CBGa goes down one of three metabolic pathways, depending on the genotype and phenotype of the plant:
- CBDa (cannabidiolic acid)
- CBCa (cannabichromenic acid)
- THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
A mature hemp plant, of course, will be high in CBDa and possess far smaller amounts of CBCa and THCa.
Since most hemp plants are grown specifically for their CBD content, hemp processors have developed a specialized process to convert raw CBDa into its reduced form (aka CBD). This process is called decarboxylation. 
CBDa top benefits
More and more hemp companies are realizing that the above CBDa > CBD process isn’t always necessary.
Why not? Because CBDa has striking health properties itself!
CBDa’s most important property is its ability to reduce inflammation. Since chronic inflammation plays a role in virtually all chronic disease states, CBDa’s anti-inflammatory ability gives it all sorts of health benefits.
One study showed that CBDa reduces inflammation by inhibiting what’s called the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme. This enzyme is elevated after injuries or infections, but you don’t want it to be chronically elevated. By inhibiting this enzyme, CBDa may ‘reset’ your body’s inflammatory response. 
Another study found something similar. It put CBDa head-to-head against NSAIDs and found that both compounds affect COX-2 the same way. This study concluded that CBDa’s anti-inflammatory properties hold plenty of therapeutic promise. 
Many people view serotonin as a ‘feel-good chemical,’ but that view couldn’t be much further from the truth. Chronically high serotonin levels are not good, nor should they be desired.
In light of this, many of CBDa’s benefits work through its ability to reduce out-of-control serotonin levels. One rodent study found that CBDa reduced nausea by regulating serotonin 5-HT receptors. This also gives serotonin the ability to reduce vomiting. It appears to be effective against CINV (chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting), too. CBDa might just become a favorite supplement of cancer/chemo patients in the future! 
CBDa’s affinity for 5-HT serotonin receptors means it may also help reduce seizure frequency in epileptic patients.
How directly does CBDa bind to 5-HT? About 100 times more strongly than ‘regular’ CBD.  That means your body can experience CBD’s calming, neuro-relaxant properties with less effort in less time.
Maybe it’s not surprising that pharmaceutical companies like GW Pharmaceuticals (makers of Epidiolex) are currently considering making CBDa-based drugs. GW’s own research hints that CBDa may be the best cannabinoid for seizure reduction, skin diseases, and more.
CBDa is a larger molecule than CBD, which means it doesn’t pass through your brain’s blood-brain barrier as easily as other molecules. (This inability was probably why CBDa went overlooked for so long.)
Once CBDa does get into the brain, however, its bonding with those 5-HT receptors we keep mentioning (especially 5-HT1A) means it can instill calmness even more directly than CBD. Only small amounts of CBDa are needed to reduce stress and improve mood.
Summing things up
The CBD revolution should really be called the hemp revolution. CBD is incredibly powerful, sure, but there is so much more to hemp than CBD — look no further than CBDa as an example.
And for many, that is where Full Spectrum CBD comes in. For a product to be truly Full Spectrum, it needs to include meaningful amounts of terpenes, flavonoids, and minor cannabinoids. Most companies use isolate to increase the amount of CBD in their products, thereby diluting every other part of the hemp extract.
Our name Five CBD comes from our commitment to the entire parts of the hemp plant. With a 5:1 ratio of CBD to minor compounds, our products give you the full power of the hemp plant. That means some of the world's highest quality CBD with quite the ensemble behind it.
- Decarboxylating Cannabis. (2020). Project CBD. https://www.projectcbd.org/guidance/decarboxylating-cannabis
- Fitzpatrick, F. A. (2004). Cyclooxygenase enzymes: regulation and function. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14965321/
- Takeda, S. (2008). Cannabidiolic acid as a selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitory component in cannabis. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18556441/
- Cannabidiolic acid prevents vomiting in Suncus murinus and nausea-induced behaviour in rats by enhancing 5-HT1A receptor activation. (2013, March 1). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3596650/
- Cannabis Therapeutics and the Future of Neurology. (2018). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6200872/