CBDa vs CBD: The Complete Breakdown

In recent years, we’ve witnessed a significant surge in interest and research surrounding cannabis and its wide-ranging uses and potential benefits. Whether that’s different types of THC or CBG flower, recent trends show a lot of interest buzzing around the world of cannabis and hemp-based CBD products

a field of industrial hemp

Among the myriad of compounds found in the cannabis plant, CBD (Cannabidiol) has taken center stage. It’s been hailed for its therapeutic properties and non-psychoactive nature.

However, the cannabis plant is a complex organism, and there's another cannabinoid that deserves further research and attention: CBDa (Cannabidiolic Acid). 

So, what is CBDa? What are the differences between CBDa vs CBD? Let’s dive in and find out! 

Key Takeaways:

  • CBDa is the precursor of CBD, and exists in raw cannabis plants
  • Compared to CBD, CBDa has poor bioavailability in its raw form, but still may have health benefits.

What is CBDa?

CBDa stands for Cannabidiolic Acid, which is a naturally occurring compound found in the raw cannabis plant. It is the acidic precursor of CBD and is considered one of the many cannabinoids present in cannabis. 

While CBDa and CBD share some similarities, they have distinct chemical structures and properties.

In the living cannabis plant, CBDa is abundant and exists in the live acidic form. This acidic form makes it less biologically active than CBD, which is its neutral counterpart. 

However, through a process called decarboxylation, CBDa can be converted into CBD by removing the carboxyl group, usually through heat or sunlight exposure.

Decarboxylation is commonly achieved during the cannabis drying and curing process or when the plant material is exposed to heat, such as through smoking or vaporization. 

When the carboxyl group is removed, CBDa turns into CBD, and the compound becomes more bioavailable and active in interacting with the endocannabinoid system in the human body.

While CBD has gained significant attention for its potential therapeutic benefits, CBDa has also been the subject of some research. Preliminary studies, like this 2020 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, suggest that CBDa may have a wide range of useful benefits. 

However, it is important to understand that its potential benefits and mechanisms of action are still being explored and understood.

It's also important to note that CBDa is not as widely available in isolated forms as CBD, as it is often converted to CBD during the extraction or manufacturing processes to enhance its bioavailability and useful properties. 

However, some products on the market may contain both CBD and CBDa, promoting a potential synergistic effect known as the "entourage effect." Many of these products are often referred to as full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD oil

CBDa vs CBD Effects: The Difference Between How CBD vs CBDa Affect the Body

The fundamental distinction between CBDa and CBD lies in their chemical structure. CBDa is the acidic precursor of CBD, existing in the raw cannabis plant. 

Decarboxylation involves the removal of a carboxyl group (COOH) from the cannabinoid's molecular structure, resulting in the formation of CBD. As a result, CBDa is the acidic form, while CBD is the neutral form of the same compound. 

This Is just a fancy way of saying that without CBDa, we wouldn't have our beloved CBD gummies!

How Does CBD Affect the Body?

CBD is readily absorbed by the body and interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex network of receptors that regulate various physiological processes. It primarily binds to:

  • CB1 receptors in the brain 
  • CB2 receptors in the immune system

By naturally interacting with your body's ECS, CBD has the power to help support a full range of full-body functions. 

How Does CBDa Affect the Body?

On the other hand, CBDa exhibits poor bioavailability in its raw form. This means that when consumed, a significant portion of CBDa may not be effectively utilized by the body. CBD is consumed much easier with a higher bioavailability.

However, some research suggests that CBDa may interact with the ECS in a different manner. Instead of directly binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBDa may modulate the ECS by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme, potentially helping to reduce inflammation. 

Additionally, CBDa may also interact with serotonin receptors which may contribute to its potential benefits for things like nausea, stress, and anxiety.

CBDa vs CBD Benefits

Since both CBD and CBDa are sourced from the same plant, they do have some similar benefits. However, because of the way they interact with our bodies, they do have some differences in terms of how they help. 

Remember, CBD primarily binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the brain and immune system. CBDa on the other hand interacts with the ECS in a different manner, and may also interact directly with serotonin receptors. 

CBD and CBDa appear to have different effects on the human body due to their varying molecular structures. While research on CBD is more extensive, CBDa has also garnered attention for its potential therapeutic benefits. 

However, it's essential to note that the research on CBDa is still in its early stages, and further investigation is required to confirm and expand upon these findings.

How to Use CBDa vs CBD Products

CBD and CBDa products are available in various forms, but due to CBDa's poor bioavailability in raw form, it is often necessary to decarboxylate CBDa into CBD to unlock its full potential. This process can be achieved through heating or cooking the raw cannabis plant or extract, transforming CBDa into CBD.

CBD products are now much more widely available. You can choose from a whole host of options like:

On top of that, there are plenty of additional cannabinoids to choose from like CBN gummies, sleep powder, or even Delta 9 THC gummies with the perfect mix of CBD and THC from hemp. 

No matter what you’re looking for, there’s the right CBD product for you. Be it CBD, CBN, CBDa, THC, or anything in-between, there are plenty of options to choose from. 

And if you’re still curious for more information on all CBD topics, like how does CBD oil make you feel, be sure to check out our blog for complete guides, education, and so much more!   




Disclaimers: The information provided in this blog and by this website is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be professional medical advice, a medical diagnosis, or medical treatment. Please consult your health practitioner with any questions you have regarding a medical condition. 

Cannabis laws in the U.S. are continually shifting; therefore, the information in this article is subject to change. The information in this article does not constitute legal advice, and no entity at Evn-cbd is claiming to provide legal advice. Please visit your official state website for more information on your state’s cannabis laws and regulations.

Back to blog