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What Is The Difference Between CBD and CBDA?

Cannabidiol (CBD) might seem to be everywhere right now because you have likely seen it in a variety of mainstream retailers. If you've been researching CBD, then you may have come across another compound in the process called Cannabidiolic Acid or CBDA. There can be a lot of confusion and mixing up of these compounds and other cannabinoids present in the hemp and cannabis plants. That’s why we've created a quick and easy guide to assist you in answering your questions accurately before integrating hemp extract into your health and wellness routine. CBD is one type of many cannabinoids, as is CBDA. However, it is pretty rare to find high amounts of CBDA in typical extracts, and we'll explain why.  Cannabinoids are undergoing a genuine renaissance in the wake of the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (Farm Bill) because it created a legal category of the cannabis plant called 'Hemp.' Hemp contains less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or the marijuana compound that gets you high. The legalization of Hemp at the federal level opened the door for a rapid and parabolic expansion of hemp extract and the high levels of CBD it contains as one of the most sought after and positively reviewed health and wellness products on the market. Unfortunately, due to the historic enmity that the United States Government seems to have for the cannabis plant, many misconceptions and misinformation have permeated society's discourse around the popular compound in cannabis that doesn't get you high, and that isn't illegal! There has been a lot less scientific research on the many other cannabinoids in Hemp other than CBD and THC, but what there is very promising. 

Many users believe that enjoying the full-spectrum and broad-spectrum hemp extracts provide not only a more mindful and pleasant experience but also may provide additional therapeutic benefits as opposed to just using products that only contain CBD isolate (which is usually a powdered extract of CBD only and generally contains little if any other cannabinoids). There is scientific evidence to back this up, which we will discuss below further. Full-spectrum hemp extract contains every single cannabinoid present in the Hemp plant, including up to the proper amount (0.3%) of THC. For those who may be professionals in sensitive industries or who may have a personal or official aversion to having THC in their bloodstream, the CBD industry created Broad-Spectrum. Broad-spectrum extract essentially is the same as Full-Spectrum Extract, except it has been subjected to a new manufacturing process that removes as much THC as commercially possible. To give you an idea of how precise this process is, we will break down some of the numbers for you. For a broad-spectrum product to achieve a 0% lab reading for THC, it must generally contain less than 0.000199% THC. This is usually thought to be a negligible amount that wouldn't cause a false positive on most drug tests, however, given the incredible amount of variables in determining how long THC metabolites will remain in a human system are highly individual, it is virtually impossible to provide users a guarantee that they will pass a drug test. If you are using CBD, you may want to talk to your HR department if you are required to be drug tested as a condition of your employment. 

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol is the second most well-known compound in cannabis only to the THC. It is thought to have many potential therapeutic benefits. It’s been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat a juvenile seizure disorder. A medicine known as Sativex, which combines CBD and THC, is also used in Canada and Britain for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and other types of chronic pain associated with unpleasant treatments or side effects from chemotherapy. Cannabidiol is often mistaken to have similar qualities to THC because it comes from the cannabis plant. The two compounds are quite different in structure and behave very differently in the brain. According to a report by the World Health Organization, "In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD." The compound is produced, usually naturally, after hemp extract has had time to settle at room temperature. The process by which CBD is formed begins when the "mother of all cannabinoids," as Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA) is known, from there specific enzymes to each particular cannabis plant strain will begin to convert CBGA into a different distribution of the three major precursor compounds in the cannabis plant. The first of these compounds is the less-well-known precursor to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). THCA is often actually used by cancer patients or others attempting to mitigate severe symptoms who may not enjoy the psychoactive effects of THC. If it is ingested, the 'high' that is the signature of THC will either not be produced or will be produced very mildly compared to if you consumed an equal amount of THC. The second precursor compound is cannabichromenic acid (CBCA), which finally brings us to cannabidiolic acid (CBDA).

What Is CBDA?

CBDA is the direct precursor compound of CBD. This means that upon initial extraction from the Hemp plant, the initial extract contains high amounts of CBDA and not CBD. The precursor compound is converted into CBD through a process called thermal decarboxylation. This process essentially causes CBDA to be stripped of the carboxyl structure that gives the substance its' acidity. Once this happens, and room temperature provides enough heat to trigger this process, you are left with high amounts of raw CBD. If you are vaping or smoking CBDA, the heat of the flame or device will instantly turn the CBDA into CBD. However, this process usually occurs slower as the extract settles. It can slowly degrade from CBDA to CBD depending on temperature and conditions, so if you store your CBD at average room temperature over time, it may contain a higher amount of CBD. This is why some veteran users buy their CBD in bulk and keep a lot in stock! So, even though CBDA is one of the most plentiful compounds in raw cannabis, by the time the products containing CBD that most consumers use reach then, there will usually be little CBDA left. CBDA is much easier to consume in topical creams, tinctures, or through raw cannabis juice then in most mainstream products. However, full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products often contain significant amounts of CBD.

Does CBDA Have Any Value?

The results of preliminary research do suggest that CBDA may have some significant therapeutic benefits. For many years scientists completely ignored this compound as the acidic precursors to the better-known cannabinoids were wrongly thought to be entirely pharmacologically inactive since they don't bind to the same receptors that their more advanced forms do. Most research, for this reason, has been disproportionately focused on CBD and THC. However, recent developments have unlocked promise in the potential of CBDA as a therapeutic agent. In 2008 it was observed that the molecular structure of CBDA was very close to other compounds that make up the class of drugs known as Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). This led to speculation that CBDA may be a potent anti-inflammatory agent by very similar mechanisms to the hugely successful class of pharmaceuticals. It was demonstrated that CBDA does indeed exhibit the same COX-2 inhibitor behavior that is at the root of the success of NSAIDs in their treatment of inflammation. While further research is needed, it seemed to positively discard the theory the CBDA was not active in the brain. Another study found that CBDA was up to 1,000 times more potent than CBD in binding to specific receptors linked to the anti-nausea and anti-anxiety properties of CBD when administered tandemly with a popular anti-nausea drug used primarily by those receiving chemotherapy for cancer. 

Despite the potential, it is tough to get access to CBDA in a meaningful way other than broad and full-spectrum CBD since it naturally breaks down at room temperature. One of the main obstacles in the research and potential deployment of CBDA is the compound's inherent instability in conditions that prevail over much of the globe. For this reason, some scientists have begun attempting to convert CBDA into a more stable compound that still retains the same properties that likely give CBDA any therapeutic value. It is too early to say, but CBDA may become the next prominent cannabinoid you read about. 

Unfortunately, just as research was beginning in earnest into CBDA and the potential therapeutic benefits, it contains the global COVID-19 outbreak caused an unprecedented delay in most elective research efforts. A unique, singular attempt by the healthcare industry to arrive at a vaccine or other effective treatments for COVID-19 will likely slow research into this compound. We’ll discuss the safest way to get access to CBDA.

Which Is Better? CBD or CBDA?

The answer is both! The effects of both together and with other cannabinoids make the active ingredients in Hemp extract more effective (We’ll explain below). Despite the similarity of their names, the way they affect the body and act in the brain is very different. CBD functions by binding directly to receptors associated with the endocannabinoid system that regulates processes like sleep, appetite, and anxiety. CBDA acts by inhibiting the COX-2 Enzymes (similar to NSAIDs) and also augments positively the function of brain receptors that produce serotonin. Both compounds have significant anti-inflammatory effects that likely complement each other, although further research is needed. Though, until there is further progress in developing a compound that is proven to contain the same medicinal properties of THCA that is stable enough for research and therapeutic purposes, the safest and best way to consume THCA is by consuming full-spectrum or broad-spectrum hemp extract. 

The Problem With Consuming Raw Cannabis Juice Products

A growing trend that has been gaining steam for those who want to gain access to the exciting potential benefits of THCA has been to consume raw cannabis juice in various ways. There can be multiple dangers with doing this. It can be a little complex to understand, so we’ll explain it carefully, so you fully understand. Hemp was only made legal at the federal level recently. Before the aforementioned 'farm bill,' Hemp was only allowed to be grown in the United States through a demanding and challenging process. However, the change in the law, along with the incredible pace of consumers purchasing new hemp-extract, CBD-rich products led to an agricultural 'hemp rush.' The economic incentives associated with growing Hemp are very land-intensive since it takes a lot of plant matter to obtain a relatively small amount of marketable hemp-extract. Hemp has a natural property as a plant of 'cleaning' the soil it is being grown in by removing pollutants such as heavy metals and pesticides from the ground. However, the consequence of the plant achieving this is that those materials become present in the plant matter, the very plant matter that is being used to extract a product that is then being sold for health and wellness. Some disingenuous farmers who understand this want to take consumers for a ride; selling them cheap and tainted Hemp that is counterproductive to the very reason they are buying while mostly getting paid to clean their farmland and boost the value of their next more profitable crop that will be cycled in after the Hemp has done its temporary job. 

Consumers need to be informed in this market. This is because CBD and hemp extract are regulated as supplements, as we mentioned before. As a consumer, you are responsible for verifying both the contents and claims of the vendor you are buying from. If you don’t take this responsibility in earnest, then the odds are that you will get fleeced and will likely buy a product that exaggerates the amount of CBD it contains. It is challenging to find raw hemp juice products that come from USDA certified organic Hemp, or that have been lab-tested and are verified not to include the pollution health and wellness consumers strive to avoid. 

This is why the safest and surest way to get CBDA and the full-range of other cannabinoids available is through full-spectrum and broad-spectrum hemp extract. The process of manufacturing both these products results in decarboxylation, and other methods ensure contaminants do not end up in the final product, and what you’re getting is safe for consumption. These products are also far more likely to contain a Certificate of Analysis (COA). You can inspect and verify the contents, as well as check the absence of pollution and harmful substances. 

The Entourage Effect

It has been shown that when you consume the full range of cannabinoids, they act together in what is called 'The Entourage Effect.' This means that ordinarily inactive cannabinoids, which would do very little or nothing on their own, can act as an amplifying agent to the primary compounds like CBD. If you’re seeking the health benefits of CBD, you will get more bang for your buck if you use full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products. You will also be able to guarantee the contents of the products, and more importantly, that you’re safe! If you'd like to purchase full-spectrum or broad-spectrum hemp extract that is USDA certified organic only, strenuously lab-tested, and produced by a certified Woman-Owned Business, then click here!

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