CBD vs. CBDA: What’s the Difference?

  • CBD

The world of supplements is replete with acronyms. If you’ve been keeping up with this niche for a while, you know that CBD is one of the most common ones.

Standing for cannabidiol, CBD is a chemical compound derived from the Cannabid sativa plant. You may already be familiar with CBD, as it’s widely available in tinctures, edibles, tablets and other forms.

Yet, have you heard of cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA?

Today, we’re breaking down the differences in CBD vs. CBDA, helping you understand the nuances between the two. Read on to discover how they’re alike, what sets them apart and how to use each to your advantage.

What Is CBD?

Before we dive into the ways that CBD and CBDA are different from one another, let’s first discuss what each one encompasses, starting with CBD.

In recent years, CBD has skyrocketed in popularity as researchers and users alike discover its powerful therapeutic qualities. Well-known as the major non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, it’s been used to help alleviate a range of physical and neurological conditions. 

Many people use CBD oil in oils and edibles to impart a feeling of calm and relaxation. Yet, while it can help you feel more laid-back after a long day, CBD will not get you high. In this way, it differs from another well-known cannabis compound, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

What Is CBDA?

In short, CBDA is the precursor to CBD. Though it shows promise in early clinical trials, it has yet to gain as much attention or buzz in the public, though industry experts predict this will soon change. 

How is it developed?

To understand the process, it helps to understand how all cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp are developed. In the very beginning, they all start out as cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA. This compound is known in the scientific community as “the mother of all cannabinoids”.

From there, each strain of cannabis features unique plant enzymes that go to work on CBGA. When they do, they convert it into some combination of the three compounds known to be precursors to cannabinoids. These include:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA)
  • Cannabichromenic acid (CBCA)
  • Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)

The natural compound of CBDA was not isolated until 1996. Available in substantial quantities in raw cannabis, it’s considered to be a relatively recent discovery.

Transforming CBDA to CBD

A process called thermal decarboxylation is behind the transformation of CBDA into CBD as we know it today. During this process, the CBDA moleule is dried or exposed to heat. This creates a reaction that causes the molecule to lose its acidic carboxyl group. 

There are two main ways that thermal decarboxylation can occur. 

If you smoke or vape cannabis, this heat transfer is quick and the transformation happens almost immediately. Still, you don’t necessarily need a direct heat source to catalyze it. If you allow the plant material to remain at room temperature for a long enough time, this degradation will slowly occur on its own.

However, most of us aren’t willing to allow such substances to remain untouched long enough for the switch to happen naturally. As such, most people who consume cannabis miss out on the properties of CBDA. As soon as they light the cannabis material, they trigger it to convert from its “raw” form into CBD.

CBD vs. CBDA: Distinctions to Know

Now that we’ve covered how both CBDA and CBD are produced, where do their similarities begin and end?

First, both compounds are considered to be cannabinoids. There are more than 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and they’re also located within the human body. Your endocrine system uses cannabinoids to regulate your normal bodily functions. 

Moreover, both CBD and CBDA are non-intoxicating. Unlike THC, they will not get you high. Now that we’ve shared these general similarities, let’s break down a few of the key differences between the two.

Stabilizing CBDA: Encouraging Research

Though it’s helpful to know that CBDA does contain therapeutic benefits, it hasn’t been widely accepted as a clinical treatment for one primary reason. As discussed above, this compound will undergo eventual decarboxylation when left at room temperature. As such, this compound is too unstable to store and distribute in its raw form. 

Interestingly, there is new research developing out from the same team that first synthesized THC and CBD. These cannabis scientists are studying a new way to transform and synthesize CBDA into a compound that is more stable. This compound, they explain, will better retain the therapeutic benefits that CBDA contains.

How will it work? These researchers have found a way to stabilize CBDA by converting it into what’s known as a cannabidiolic acid methyl ester, or HU-580. So far, studies have been limited to animal models, and early results are hopeful.

For instance, one study found that when used to help ease symptoms of depression, the new compound was still able to help calm anxious behavior as CBDA usually does. The only difference? It was now chemically stable as opposed to its original form, making it easier to store and use as a clinical drug.

Shop Our Full Collection of CBD Products Today

As more interest grows around the CBD vs. CBDA debate, this attention is encouraging researchers to take a closer look at both compounds. This is encouraging and exciting news, and it could open up a wide realm of possible applications.

While more research needs to be performed to understand the full scope of CBDA’s benefits and uses, CBD remains a stable and reliable supplement. Whether you use it to shake off the stress from the day, sleep better at night, or help calm your anxious feelings, we’ve got the full- and broad-spectrum oils you need.

Feel free to shop our online collection. If you have any questions or want to learn more about any of our products, feel free to contact our team.


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