So, you have finally got your head around CBD, and now you keep reading about CBDa. Confusing?

Is CBDa better than CBD? What is the difference between them both? So many questions asked and all will be answered here


What is CBDa?

CBDa (Cannabidolic Acid) is a type of compound found in hemp called a cannabinoid. CBD (Cannabidiol) is also a type of cannabinoid. These are the compounds that serve as marijuana’s active ingredients, and there are dozens of them within the plant. When introduced into the human brain and body, cannabinoids mimic the chemicals our brains naturally produce by plugging into the same receptors.

This means that cannabinoids can create a wide range of effects such as causing euphoria, alleviating pain, helping with depression, easing nausea, and more. In their activated state, these cannabinoids are known as THC, CBD, CBG, and so on. Before CBD and other cannabinoids are pharmacologically active, they exist in their acidic forms.

This means that the precursor to CBD in marijuana is CBDA, or cannabidiolic acid. This is also the case with other cannabinoids, meaning that raw cannabis flower contains THCA, CBGA, CBCA, in addition to CBDA.


How does CBDa effect the body?

CBD and CBDa share a few similarities. Neither create a high or stoned effect because they do not directly interact with receptors in our endocannabinoid system - the complex network of cell receptors and cannabis-like chemicals that brings balance to our bodies and minds. In fact, both CBD and CBDA are thought to cause some of their most noted effects on the body by activating the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a type of neurotransmitter found in the brain involved in regulating mood, anxiety, sleep, and feelings of nausea. 

CBD has been tested on humans with social anxiety, with subjects able to perform a simulated public speaking task more effectively after taking the cannabinoid. CBDA research into depression has only reached the preclinical stage, but so far it has been found to elicit antidepressant effects on rats at doses 10-100 times lower than CBD. It’s thought these anti-anxiety and mood boosting effects are a result of increased serotonin levels.

CBDA’s activation of the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors has also led to it being investigated as a potential anti-nausea drug, with one study finding CBDA more effective at reducing nausea than CBD.   And finally, like CBD, CBDA is thought to be anti-inflammatory, inhibiting key inflammatory mediators called COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes.



The difference between these acidic forms of cannabis and their better-known versions (CBDA vs CBD, for example) are that the acidic forms of cannabinoids aren’t pharmacologically active. THCA, for example, doesn’t cause a euphoric high the way THC does. CBDA has long been thought to have none of the effects of CBD, but scientific studies are beginning to call this into question. Either way, cannabinoids such as CBDA aren’t considered pharmacologically active until they’ve been decarboxylated.

Decarboxylation involves heating the cannabinoid acids in a marijuana plant until they lose their carboxylic acid. When this happens to cannabidiolic acid/CBDA, it turns into CBD.

This heating process can be accomplished though smoking or vaping. Some people decarboxylate their cannabis by spreading it evenly on a baking sheet and putting it into a 230-degree (Fahrenheit) oven for up to 40 minutes until the material turns medium brown. Why put cannabis through this process? Without decarboxylation, popular thought says, cannabinoids are useless. Today, however, some people are beginning to reconsider this theory.


CBDa medical benefits

The majority of the research studies around cannabis have been focused on the non-acidic forms of its cannabinoids. This has largely left the world in the dark in terms of the benefits of their acidic precursors. However, a growing body of research is beginning to shift the tide in terms of the way the world thinks of CBDA, its potential benefits, and its uses.


CBDa’s role as a cox-2 inhibitor makes it more than a cancer fighter, it also makes it an excellent anti-inflammatory. COX-2 is the enzyme targeted by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Researchers found that the CBDa not only blocks this enzyme, it does it even better than THC.


Scientists studying CBDA benefits also believe it may be effective against nausea. The same receptors that control anxiety and well-being also regulate feelings of nausea, as well as vomiting. Like CBD, CBDA interacts with these receptors to calm queasy feelings. In fact, the research suggests that when it comes to choosing CBD vs CBDA for this purpose, CBDA is actually more effective.


How to Consume CBDA

While studies are still ongoing to discover CBDA’s potential medical uses, some health-conscious people are hoping to harness any potential CBDA benefits by consuming it at home. The best way to do this is to start with raw cannabis leaves and flowers from plants that haven’t been cured. They can be used to infuse into cannabis topicals such as balms or creams, as well as ingested orally.

Raw, uncured marijuana can be difficult to find. Where it’s legal, some people simply grow their own, while others check local dispensaries to see if they can procure fresh, CBDA-rich marijuana. Store raw cannabis leaves or flowers in the refrigerator just like any green, leafy vegetable.