cbda vs cbd

What’s the difference between CBDa vs CBD?

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  1. What is CBDa?
  2. Is CBDa better than CBD?
  3. What is CBDa used for?
  4. Is CBDa in CBD oil?
  5. Can you smoke CBDa?

CBD has received significant press for its potential pain and stress-relieving benefits, but have you heard of CBDa? If you’re not familiar with the term, you may have some questions about this lesser-known component of the hemp plant and cannabis plant.

What exactly is CBDa and how does it function? What are the benefits of CBDa? What is the difference between CBD and CBDa? Here we shine the spotlight on CBDa while breaking down how it differs from CBD, one of the most abundant naturally occurring cannabinoids present in cannabis.

What is CBDa?

CBDa, or cannabidiolic acid, is a compound that occurs abundantly in live hemp and cannabis plants. Like CBD, CBDa interacts with our bodies and endocannabinoid systems as a cannabinoid and may offer health benefits ranging from pain relief to mood enhancement.

CBDa is the acid form of CBD and bears the same relationship as THCa and THC. Dr. Adie Poe, assistant scientist at Legacy Research Institute in Portland, Oregon, and scientific advisor to Weedmaps, elaborated: “The plant makes the acid form, and the acid form is decarboxylated by heat. CBDa is just the “raw” or unheated form of CBD.”

CBDa is the acid form of CBD and bears the same relationship as THCa and THC. CBDa is the “raw” or unheated form of CBD.

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In other words, when CBDa heats up, it turns into CBD. In its original form, CBDa stays as is. Since CBDa has a close relationship with CBD, does one cannabinoid have more benefits than the other? Some CBDa research indicates yes.

Is CBDa better than CBD?

If your definition of better means more potent, then yes, CBDa could be superior to CBD. Sometimes dubbed the mother of all cannabinoids, CBDa has acted more potently than CBD as well as THCa in different scientific studies on animals.

But Poe cautioned against making premature assumptions about what CBDa can do for people. As she pointed out, “There is sparse evidence about CBDa’s medical benefits in humans, although a few studies have looked at its ability to reduce seizures, reduce tumors, and treat inflammation in animals.”

One such study was conducted by Japanese researchers and published in 2008 in the journal Drug Metabolism and Disposition. In this study, both CBDa and THCa were found to have an inhibitory effect on inflammation, but CBDa emerged as the stronger of the two.

In this study, both CBDa and THCa were found to have an inhibitory effect on inflammation, but CBDa emerged as the stronger of the two. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Another study, conducted by the same Japanese researchers and published in 2017 in the Journal of Natural Medicine, demonstrated the potential anti-tumor properties of CBDa. This study discussed the possibility that CBDa could combat the development of highly aggressive breast cancer cells.

With regard to nausea, a 2013 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology evaluated the ability of CBDa to reduce nausea and vomiting in animal models. Results revealed that CBDa reduced toxin- and motion-induced vomiting while acting more potently than CBD. Researchers noted, “Consequently, CBDa shows promise as a treatment for nausea and vomiting, including anticipatory nausea for which no specific therapy is currently available.”

Clearly, CBDa has demonstrated beneficial properties in animals, but whether these studies have implications on human health remains to be seen.

What is CBDa used for?

One way the possible benefits of CBDa can be experienced is in homemade food and beverages. Poe shared, “CBDa is an important component of a full-spectrum raw extract. Hemp kief in your smoothie equals a nice anti-inflammatory micronutrient.”

A CBDa-infused smoothie might also contain superfoods such as kale, spinach, and ginger root. A handful of CBDa flower along with a teaspoon of CBD oil, plus some apples for taste and orange juice for texture could complete the recipe. This type of smoothie won’t get you high because THC is not an ingredient, but the drink could help fight off inflammation in the body and leave you feeling refreshed.

Is CBDa in CBD oil?

CBD and CBDa may both be present in oil depending on how the concoction was prepared. If CBDa is an ingredient in raw, unheated forms, then it could be an active ingredient in a therapeutic oil.

CBD and CBDa may both be present in oil depending on how the concoction was prepared. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Dr. Poe elaborated, “A consumer may encounter CBDa products out there in the world if the manufacturer has not heated the plant prior to processing. That is, if they take raw hemp oil and incorporate it into their products without heating, the “CBD” oil may actually contain CBDa. CBDa is anti-inflammatory, but it has other targets in the nervous system (serotonin signaling, for example), just like its de-carbed cousin.”

Likewise, tinctures can feature CBDa as the main ingredient if the cannabinoid has not been heated or processed in any way.

Can you smoke CBDa?

Consumption methods such as smoking marijuana will naturally convert CBDa into CBD because the cannabinoid heats up when you light a joint. So, you cannot directly smoke CBDa as its raw form changes into CBD. If you want to directly experience CBDa, you can experiment with certain ingestible oils, as well as tinctures, creams, and other cannabis topicals. Or, you can fix yourself a superfood smoothie or a cup of raw cannabis juice to take in some CBDa.

However you choose to use CBDa, you should consult with your physician before trying any new medicinal regimen and discuss whether any medications you are currently taking could interact with cannabis.

What’s the difference between CBDa vs CBD? Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is CBDa? Is CBDa better than CBD? What is CBDa used for?



CBDA is the abbreviation for Cannabidiolic Acid, the phytocannabinoid found in raw hemp and marijuana plants.

CBD is the acronym for Cannabidiol, the decarboxylated form of CBDA. We are familiar with its non-psychoactive properties and its extensive applicability in all aspects of lifestyle.

This article aims to deep dive into understanding the lesser-known cannabinoid ( CBDA) compared with the most celebrated compound ( CBD). The intention is to expand our knowledge about the cannabis plant that could help us to steer clear from speculative theories.

CBDA Vs CBD – A quick overview

Property CBDA CBD
Cannabinoid Naturally occurring Phytocannabinoid-Precursor to CBD Naturally occurring.
Bio-synthesis Gets converted from its mother cannabinoid – CBGA CBDA decarboxylase into CBD ( due to heat, light, and time)
Psychoactivity Non-psychoactive Non-psychoactive
Benefits Potential Therapeutic value: Preliminary research stage Extensive Therapeutic value
Availability Cannabis Sativa, Hemp strains Cannabis Sativa, Hemp strains
Molecular structure C22H30O4 C21H30O2
Interaction with ECS Does not interact with ECS, but with serotonin receptors CBD travels through multiple molecular pathways

CBDA Vs CBD overview

Background of CBDA

In the post THCA vs THC, the stages of biosynthesis of cannabinoids were briefly discussed.

That is, CBGA ( cannabigerolic acid) is the mother compound of the three primary cannabinoids CBC, THC, CBD. Beginning their lifecycle as CBGA, the effect of heat, light, time, and enzymatic reactions converts it into CBCA, THCA, and CBDA.

Progressive efforts are now getting directed towards publishing more findings on individual cannabinoids as research on them is in progress.

Where is CBDA found?

The acidic forms of CBGA, including CBDA, THCA, and CBCA, remain in their acidic structure in the plant until they are harvested or decarboxylated.

But where is CBDA? How can it be isolated?

A recent study 1 details out that Cannabidiolic acid is the most prominent compound present in hemp seed oil.

The growing interest in these lesser-known cannabinoids has led to studies that are progressing towards deriving its isolated and purified forms.

Hence this study proposes to recover CBDA from the hemp pollen of Industrial hemp cultivars. Moreover, it recommends the need for combined, alternative processing techniques. It could help obtain improved quantities of CBDA from two different sources: hemp seed oil and hemp pollen or also from its by-products and wastes.

Role of CBDA in the endocannabinoid system

CBDA, unlike most phytocannabinoids, does not interact with the endocannabinoid system. It exerts most of its therapeutic effects by interacting with the serotonin system. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is found in the brain and it is involved in the regulation of moods, sleep, social behavior, appetite, sleep, sexual desire, and memory.

Having said that, CBDA’s mechanism of action is still under investigation. Like CBD, CBDA likely exerts its effects through numerous other pathways.

The 2018 study 2 reports that CBDA can enhance the activation of the 5HT1A* receptor in rats and humans.

* 5HT1A is a subtype of serotonin receptor. It is a neurotransmitter expressed in the brain, spleen, and neonatal kidney.

Medical benefits of CBDA

While the medical, therapeutic benefits of CBD are well identified and discussed, knowledge of CBDA is limited. However, available studies so far are pointing out its future potential in pharmacology.

The medical benefits of CBDA can be interpreted in two ways.

Firstly, we have understood that CBDA (unlike other phytocannabinoids) does not interact with the endocannabinoid system. Hence it is considered to be pharmacologically inactive.

Secondly, research asserts that CBDA uses different mechanisms to trigger therapeutic effects.

  • In a 2015 rodent model study 3 the combined doses of THC: CBDA reported to be an effective treatment for acute nausea. At the same time, CBDA at the highest dosage did not impair locomotor activity, unlike THC.
  • Similarly, the 2016 Study 4 highlights the clinical efficacy of CBDA in treating Anticipatory nausea (AN) in pre-clinical models.

Efficacy in AB is an important finding to support the current pharmacotherapy for chemotherapy patients. Because reports claim that AN is reported to have a poorly managed condition. The side effects experienced by Current pharmacology are restricted to prescribing benzodiazepine, although their limited efficacy, sedative effects, and high abuse potential are known.

Therefore the non-psychoactive, sedative side effect free profile of CBDA justifies itself as a novel AN treatment.

  • Also, a reference about CBDA’s potential to inhibit breast cancer cell migration is reported by a 2017 study. 5 CBDA inhibits the migration of breast cancer cells in humans due to its highly aggressive nature.
  • Despite some promising therapeutic potential of CBDA, reference from the 2018 study 6 points out the instability of CBDA in developing it as a medicine. This is because heat exposure weakens CBDA.

Therefore, a more stable analogue similar to the biological profile of CBDA with its methyl ester was compared. The results revealed that the effects produced by HU-580 are more potent in treating acute nausea.

  • Other benefits of CBDA include inhibition of enzymes in the endocannabinoid system, TRPV1 activation, and cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibition.

How to consume CBDA?

Consuming CBDA is straightforward. If you are tolerant and used to earthy raw plant tastes, you would like it.

  • Raw leaves from freshly harvested hemp plants can be juiced to be consumed like a separate drink or infused with any other suitable fruit.
  • Use cannabis leaves in a salad, pasta, pizza, or sandwich.
  • Generously use for garnish.
  • Innovate new combinations and make your own edibles

If you have more ideas, do share your comments in the message box below.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol is one of the primary non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid. It is one among hundreds of other cannabinoids that is naturally present in Cannabis Sativa plants.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol ( CBD) are the two compounds found in the highest concentrations.

Initially, it was thought that CBD is responsible for psychotropic effects.

Read about the basics of CBD in our previous posts.

Where is it found?

The various parts of the cannabis plant contain cannabinoids. The entire plant is medicinal and used in extractions of many other compounds.

A 2012 study 7 refers to capitate stalked glandular hairs or trichomes, which is the storehouse for the major cannabinoids. These are isolated during their flowering period at eight weeks. At this stage, Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), Cannabidiolic acid ( CBDA), and Cannabigerolic acid ( CBGA) were abundantly identified.

We are now familiar that CBDA and THCA are the acidic precursors of the compounds CBD and THC.

CBD is available in different forms for consumption that include oil, paste, tinctures, capsules, liquids, gummies, etc. The list is getting taller with more innovative applications to incorporate CBD in all aspects of lifestyle.

Medical benefits of CBD

From chronic pain to epilepsy to everyday lifestyle the applicability of CBD is increasing worldwide.

There are numerous therapeutic benefits that CBD offers to humans and animals. Several factors are contributing to the swift growth in the cannabis industry.

They include scientific research, anecdotal evidence, positive reports from patients who are benefitting from medical cannabis, demand for alternative natural medicines, Investments from pharmaceutical and nutraceutical companies, and more.

Furthermore, research 8 asserts that CBD has a good safety profile, with mild side effects in animal and human studies. Also, the non-psychoactive nature of CBD limits the abuse possibility hence qualifies for therapeutic applications.

Some of the notable medical benefits of CBD are:

  • Effective treatment for substance use disorder
  • Anticonvulsant properties
  • A possible role in refractory epilepsy, however, studies are inconclusive in animal models.
  • Neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects
  • There are reports 9 on its potential in treating neuropsychiatric disorders. Such as anxiety, schizophrenia, and addiction.
  • Similarly another report 10 concludes about its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.
  • A recent study 11 summarizes newest findings in the effectiveness of CBD in pain management and pain-related diseases. Not to miss out to keep in mind the dosage and route of administration.

CBDA the compound present in hemp seed oil shows potential in inhibiting breast cancer cell migration and treating anticipatory nausea.