We’re slowly learning more about the cannabis plant and its constituent cannabinoids, like THC, CBD, and CBG. It’s certainly been a long road, and while researchers are looking into many aspects of cannabis use for both medical purposes and recreational, it’ll be a while before we have any conclusive results. The popularity of cannabis has even led us to further delve into what exactly is in the plant. Most of us know about THC and CBD—but have you ever heard of CBDa? And what’s the difference between CBD vs CBDa?
CBDa is the acid precursor to CBD. When cannabis grows, it produces CBDa and THCa, not CBD and THC. These cannabinoids in their acidic form are often seen as being ‘inactive.’
When you heat CBDa to approximately 270°F, a process known as decarboxylation occurs. Decarboxylation turns both CBDa and THCa into CBD and THC respectively. So when you smoke a joint or bake infused batter for edibles, you are essentially creating new compounds.
Let’s go over some more of the differences between CBD and CBDa.
CBD vs CBDa
Like CBD, CBDa is non-intoxicating, meaning it won’t get you high. And like CBD, CBDa is believed to have potential anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties. Researchers are working on producing evidence that it serves to reduce anxiety, nausea, inflammation, vomiting, tumor proliferation, and more.
Because many patients and cannabis users don’t want to inhale smoke or don’t want to consume edibles with potential allergens, it may be more appropriate for some people to eat cannabis raw with acidic precursor cannabinoids like CBDa.
CBD vs CBDa: Which is Worth Trying?
CBD has been the subject of much more research, while studies on CBDa have been at the preclinical stage in animal trials. Because of this, CBD is believed to have more beneficial traits than CBDa. One study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information from 2006 concluded that CBDa is less effective against killing tumor cells than THC and CBD.
However, some companies are banking on CBDa being the next big thing. GW Pharmaceuticals, a company based in the UK, has taken out a number of patents on CBDa, which suggests that they believe CBDa deserves further research as a pharmaceutical drug. Despite GW Pharma having a CBD-based drug approved by the FDA—Epidiolex— there is reason to believe that far lower amounts of CBDa are needed than CBD for beneficial effects.
In fact, GW envisions combining both of these cannabinoids as an epilepsy drug of the future because CBDa works a lot like CBD but may be absorbed more quickly into your body.
Consumption of CBDa
When it comes to CBD vs CBDa consumption, you can ingest CBDa in any way that you would consume non-decarboxylated cannabis: blending with fruit juice, adding to a salad, putting on your yogurt, etc. It can be bitter, so it may be preferable to add sugar or another sweetener. CBDa may also be found in tinctures, topicals, capsules, oils, sublingual drops, syrups, and more.
Still, while there are a variety of CBDa products that exist, it might be hard to find them. Most products on the market were decarboxylated to produce CBD and THC and, therefore, contain very little CBDa or THCa. And even if a product does contain CBDa, it is often a minor ingredient in the product and not clearly labeled.
This may change if research shows more health benefits from this cannabinoid. And when it does, we’ll let you know!