Can CBDA Help Patients with Anxiety and Depression?

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Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States affecting an average of 40 million adults, and nearly one half of those patients are also diagnosed with depression. Both anxiety disorders and depression have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life, and unfortunately both conditions are on the rise. It is estimated 21 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2021, with a period lasting two weeks of a depressed mood, loss of interest in daily activities, and a decrease in self-worth and hope. Currently, there are many pharmaceutical options available for patients to try to alleviate their symptoms. However, they are only successful at reducing symptoms in 60-70% of patients and can come with an array of unwanted side effects including slurred speech, nausea, confusion, memory loss, low heart rate, and in some cases can even make the patients anxiety and depression worse. The need for a therapeutic option patients can rely on, with a higher success rate and without the unwanted side effects is prevalent. CBDA, has shown great potential in research as a plant derived therapeutic for those with various anxiety disorders and depression. Let’s take a deeper look at depression and anxiety disorders, and how CBDA may be able to help those suffering.  

Understanding Anxiety and Depression  

Anxiety disorders and depression can develop from a complex set of risk factors such as brain chemistry, genetics, as well as personality and life events. These biological, psychological, and social sources of distress can have lasting impacts on the individual, not only causing anxiety or depression, but also changing brain function over time, including altering the activity of certain neural circuits in the brain. 

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Anxiety disorders can come in many forms including obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Anxiety can come with an array of symptoms that have a significant impact on the patient’s quality of life. Characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities, anxiety disorders can cause irritability, restlessness, lack of concentration, racing thoughts, and excessive worry and fear.  

Depression often accompanies anxiety disorders and has significant impairments on the patient’s quality of life and enjoyment of activities. Depression is characterized by a patient having a persistent depressed mood or loss of interest in daily activities. A patient with depression often has overwhelming feelings of sadness and loss of hope, along with changes in sleep and energy levels, loss of appetite, lack of concentration, and some may also experience suicidal thoughts.  

What is CBDA and how can it help patients with anxiety and depression?  

CBDA is an acidic cannabinoid found in the hemp and cannabis plants that through research has shown great potential as a therapeutic option for patients battling depression and anxiety. CBDA works with a variety of receptors in the body to deliver its therapeutic effects, including the 5-HT1A or serotonin receptor. Activation of the 5-HT1A receptor is a key component in anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant medications to help patients with various mental illnesses. 5-HT1A is a subtype of serotonin receptors located in the presynaptic and postsynaptic regions that are implicated in the control of mood, cognition, memory, and more. 5-HT1A mediates the effects of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs and modulates the response to stressful stimuli, making it a crucial receptor to target when helping those with anxiety and depression.  

A study in 2017 evaluated CBDA’s ability to reduce anxiety in rats in response to a foot shock stress test. CBDA demonstrated anti-anxiety effects in the presence of a specific stressor at a dose of .01ug/kg through the enhancement of the 5HT1-A receptor. For comparison, CBD has anti-anxiety effects in mice starting around 1mg/kg on average. This means CBDA demonstrated anti-anxiety effects on doses 10,000 times lower than that of CBD, allowing for lower doses of CBDA. 

When CBDA was examined in 2013 for reducing nausea and vomiting, CBDA enhanced 5-HT1A receptor activation, showing promise for not only reducing nausea and vomiting, but also helping to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression through the same action. When compared to CBD, CBDA displayed a 100-fold greater affinity for the receptor, once again verifying less CBDA is needed to deliver the same therapeutic effects.

Both anxiety and depression have a severe impact on an individual’s quality of life and also increases their risk of mortality. It is estimated 8 million deaths annually are attributed to mental illnesses, making the need for therapeutic options to help patients immediate. CBDA has demonstrated itself as a potential plant-derived therapeutic option for patients suffering from various mental illnesses, without the risk of side effects that can increase the suffering and pain a patient is experiencing. 

How do you get CBDA?  

CBDA recently became available in a stable form to infuse into cannabinoid-based product applications, bringing more products with CBDA to the market for consumers. However, there is great difficulty when extracting CBDA. When using traditional extraction methods, such as butane and ethanol, heat is part of the process. Unfortunately, when CBDA is heated it converts to CBD, leaving trace amounts of CBDA in the extracted concentrate. On a search for a more sustainable way to extract cannabinoids from the hemp plant, Essentia Scientific created their patented water-as-solvent technology, and in turn found a way to extract valuable acidic cannabinoids, such as CBDA and CBGA, at a mass scale. Their proprietary process uses water to leach cannabinoids from the plant without the use of heat, harsh chemicals, or hydrocarbons, while effectively removing contaminants such as pesticides, microbial, heavy metals, and mycotoxins. By not using heat in the extraction process, Essentia Scientific is able to produce CBDA extracts on a mass scale, delivering more products with CBDA to the market and in turn allowing more individuals to experience the benefits for themselves.  

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