We often say that cannabis contains substances such as CBD, THC and other cannabinoids. That’s not quite right. The plant does not make these substances itself, but their precursors: the cannabinoid acids. These are indicated as CBDa and THCa, where the a stands for ‘acid’.
The free cannabinoids CBD and THC are formed quite easily from this acidic form. For example, by smoking a joint, baking (space)cake or heating in an evaporator. It is therefore said that the plant contains inactive substances that must first be activated. But is that true? The high effect of cannabis only occurs after it has been heated. Only free form THC achieves this effect. But what is the effect of CBDa and THCa?
Processing fresh leaves of the cannabis plant into a smoothie is a popular way to promote health, so to speak. Manufacturers skilfully respond to consumer demand; there are numerous cold-prepared products on the shelves that have come onto the market without a heating step. The result is that not all CBDa from the plant is converted into CBD. Due to all actions and other processing steps, such as extraction and chopping of the plant, a part is converted. Cold-prepared CBD oils like these are also known as ‘raw’.
How CBDa . Works
Scientific research shows that CBDa itself can also have beneficial effects on the body. Thus, it has anti-inflammatory properties. CBDa does this by inhibiting COX-2 receptors. Regular painkillers called cox inhibitors also act on these receptors. It was also long ago discovered that CBDa has an anti-bacterial effect. It has not yet been further investigated how this effect is achieved.
And CBDa works for certain types of nausea. This has been shown in animal studies. The effect is achieved via the 5HT-1a receptor. CBDa has also been shown to be effective in anticipatory nausea in laboratory animals. Anticipation nausea is the idea that you are feeling nauseous. In practice, this can be interesting for people who receive chemotherapy and who already feel nauseous in advance. THC is known to prevent nausea. It is nice if CBDa can be used instead, because it does not get you high.
Research has also been conducted into the effect of CBDa on cancer. Like THC and CBD, CBDa also appears to have a beneficial effect on the development of cancer cells. In tests on an aggressive breast cancer cell line, CBDa inhibited cell movement. This research was carried out at the cell level (in vitro) in a laboratory. It is therefore not yet clear what the effect will be when used in humans. However, the researchers indicate that CBDa offers potential therapeutic possibilities in the inhibition of cancer cell migration, including aggressive breast cancer.
Acid form of CBD also Helpful
In any case, it appears that interesting effects can also occur in the form of cannabinoid acids, which the plant produces itself. Activation by heating the extract is therefore not always necessary. The original composition of the plant is better preserved, because the quickly evaporating fragrances (terpenes) are also better present. These substances also have their own effect and contribute to the effect of raw CBD oil.