They need to be dried and cured well to remove moisture and chlorophyll for a nicer burn and smoother flavor, but something else happens during that time, too.
The non-activated cannabinoids start to activate. Some of the THC-A (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) slowly changes to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and CBD-A (cannabigerolic acid) begins to turn to CBD (cannabidiol). Drying alone isn’t usually enough to fully activate these acid-based cannabinoids, but the heat produced when you light up finishes the chemical process with an instant decarb (the chemical process where a molecule loses its carboxylic group as it releases carbon dioxide and water vaper).
The interesting part about all this is that CBD-A has some health benefits that are either drastically reduced or completely lost once the -A goes missing including:
Controlling The Big C
Have you heard the story about how CBD was able to kill breast cancer cells in a petri dish? Well, CBD-A can keep them from spreading. In a 2014 research study by The Journal of Toxicology Sciences, scientists found that CBD-A is a selective COX-2 (Cyclooxygenase-2) inhibitor and it stimulates the production of SHARP1 (a basic helix-loop-helix transcription repressor).
That’s a double-whammy for invasive breast cancer because COX-2 is known to make cancer spread and SHARP1 has been proven to keep it from spreading. If we lost you, here’s the math: less COX-2 + more SHARP1 = less new cancer cells.
You know how some people like Angelina Jolie are genetically predisposed to invasive breast cancer? Research also shows that CBD-A can keep those genes under control. Combined, CBD-A has massive potential to contain cancer and keep it from spreading making this cannabinoid an important anti-proliferative.
Keeps Inflammation in Check
As mentioned above, CBD-A inhibits the production of the COX-2 enzyme. In addition to encouraging cancer to metastasize, COX-2 causes inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be good if your body’s immune system uses it to fight off infection, but chronic inflammation is thought to be the precursor to all kinds of illnesses from arthritis and some chronic pain to Alzheimer’s and heart disease. To add insult to injury, some researchers believe that inflammation is just as bad as sun exposure when it comes to premature aging.
In short, CBD-A can reduce the amount of COX-2 floating around in your body so that you look better, feel better and live longer. That makes this anti-inflammatory a triple win in anyone’s book.
Stops Nausea and Vomiting
Various studies have shown that CBD-A can reduce nausea, vomiting related to nausea, and anticipatory nausea – that’s when you’re so used to throwing up under certain conditions that you toss your cookies before anything even happens. Before you decide that’s too weird to be true, it happens to lots of chemo patients in the treatment area before they even get their dose of toxic chemicals, and there’s no current treatment for anticipatory nausea.
They’re pretty sure CBD-A is able to settle everyone’s stomach by making the 5-HT1A receptor more active. And, CBD doesn’t do any of this nearly as well as CBD-A.
How to Get More CBD-A Now
As the health benefits of raw cannabis are getting more attention, people are doing everything from juicing their weed to making pot smoothies to creating sophisticated cold-pressed extractions. By using the whole plant, proponents say they’re getting more than just CBD-A, including essential amino acids, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, beneficial terpenes that have their own healing properties and a lot of other good stuff. It’s looking more and more like cannabis might very well beat out kale, kelp & kefir as our next super food!
Of course, it might be years before it’s legal for your local market or health food store to stock fresh cannabis beside the salad greens, so your only option might be to grow your own with a strain known to be high in CBD until the laws change. That way, at least you can make sure it’s as ripe and fresh as possible when you toss it in your juicer.
Do you think raw cannabis has more health benefits than an oil or smoking?