CBDA vs CBD: Everything You Need to Know

Best CBD is CBD+CBDa

Posted on May 21st, 2022

Chances are that you’ve heard of THC and CBD. After all, they’re the most abundant and well-known cannabinoids. Remember, cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds. They’re found in cannabis plants, and they  interact with your body, providing potential health benefits ranging from stress to pain relief.

Now, the plant contains more than 100 compounds, including the less familiar cannabidiolic acid (CBDa). For years, researchers have explored CBD its potential to manage symptoms of anxiety disorders, inflammation, and a host of other conditions. Comparatively, they’ve given CBDa significantly less attention. But that’s surprising,  since it’s the antecedent to CBD formation and shows promise in preclinical studies. So, what is CBDa? How does it work? And is CBDa better than CBD? Here’s everything to know about this compound, including how it stands up in comparisons of CBDa vs CBD. 

What Is CBDa?

Before we can compare CBDa vs CBD, we need to understand what CBDa really is. Now, all major cannabinoids stem from a ‘parent’ cannabinoid referred to as cannabigerolic acid (CBGa). Depending on the plant enzymes activated for each strain, CBGa converts to three distinct precursor compounds. And these are cannabichromenic acid (CBCa), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa), and cannabidiolic acid (CBDa). 

In this way, CBDa is one of several naturally occurring acidic cannabinoids. We find it in the plant’s flowers, stems, and leaves. Then after CBDa forms, the process of thermal decarboxylation transforms it to CBD. How does that happen? The CBDa passes through a heat source, making the molecule lose its acidic carboxyl group. In fact, decarboxylation describes eliminating hydrogen and carbon dioxide from CBDa, thereby altering its properties. In most cases, the process happens naturally with time or exposure to the sun’s heat and light. As a result, we consider CBDa the raw form of CBD.

CBDa and the ECS

Like CBD, CBDa interacts with the endocannabinoid system, possibly providing a range of health benefits, including  mood enhancement and pain relief.  Despite CBDa being abundant in its ‘raw’ cannabis form, most users can’t access this cannabinoid, since most consumption methods convert it to CBD. If you want to consume CBDa, consider using topicals, tinctures, and capsules instead. Otherwise, you can juice raw cannabis and get your daily dosage of CBDa.

Tanasi CBDa and CBD tincture on hemp leavesCBDa vs CBD

Although CBD and CBDa are connected, they are also distinctly different. Both are cannabinoids, natural compounds found in the cannabis plant. Estimates suggest that there are 113 cannabinoids in total. Still, each one’s concentration varies depending on the plant variety and if decarboxylation occurs.

We find CBD in smaller quantities in growing cannabis plants. Actually, most of that CBD exists as CBDa, converting to CBD when we dry, cut and heat the cannabis plant. These cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, a regulatory network that changes the release of brain neurotransmitters that ensure body functions are kept in balance. However, CBDa is an acidic cannabinoid that affects the endocannabinoid system differently compared to decarboxylated cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.  

CBDa vs CBD – Potential Health Benefits

While most cannabinoids bind directly with CB1 or CB2 receptors, CBDa doesn’t. Rather, it impedes the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme. This enzyme is linked to inflammation after an infection or injury. So if it’s inhibited, CBDa may alleviate that inflammation and pain.

In fact, in one rodent study, scientists discovered that CBDa may affect serotonin levels. Serotonin is essential to core human functionalities such as digestion, eating, sleeping, motor skills, and emotions. Maintaining healthy levels of this chemical could then lead to better health. 

Cannabidiol: Anxiety and Inflammation Studies

Further research on CBD shows that people with social anxiety can better perform at public speaking tasks after consuming the cannabinoid. While research into CBDa’s effects on depression are still at a preclinical stage, studies suggest it could evoke antidepressant effects, and with lower dosages compared to CBD.

There are several stressors, including chemotherapy and radiation, that make your body produce excess serotonin, causing vomiting and nausea. Now, newer research shows that CBDa may influence the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) receptors related to serotonin. This suggests it could help manage chemotherapy-induced nausea/vomiting. CBDa may also provide anti-proliferative, anti-tumor, antibacterial, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory effects. It could also help  manage seizures, but we need more research.

While CBDa research isn’t as robust as CBD, early studies may show that the compound offers similar health and wellness benefits when compared to CBD.

Hand holding tincture dropperCurrent Research on CBDa vs CBD

CBDa has only been on researchers’ radar for around a decade now. A 2008 study focused on how it inhibits COX-2 as an anti-inflammatory agent. They compared its molecular structure to that of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which also treat inflammation. And here’s what they discovered! Their chemical structure was similar, suggesting that CBDa may act as a promising anti-inflammatory agent.

In the same manner that it may controll nausea, CBDa may act as an anticonvulsant. Studies show that CBDa binds to the 5-HT receptors with greater strength than CBD. Why is that the case? It seems to have a higher bioavailability than CBD, so your body metabolizes the compound in less time and with less effort. The receptor affinity also means that CBDa could fight depression by interacting with the 5-HT receptors. (SSRI antidepressants work the same way!) Also, because its therapeutic effect is great, you may need less CBDa than CBD to get results.

Future of CBDa

Scientists have only been studying the benefits of CBDa for a brief period, so when it comes to its future, many variables are still unknown. For this reason, the compound may not be acknowledged by many. It may be a more unstable compound when compared to CBD due to decarboxylation. More research needs to be conducted to have a comprehensive understanding of CBDa, but scientists are pitting CBDa to have a pretty bright future when it comes to its potential benefits. 

Using CBDa

Smoking cannabis or hemp will transform CBDa to CBD naturally. So if you want to consume CBDa directly, you can consider  ingestible oils, creams, tinctures, and other cannabis topicals. You can also experience it in homemade beverages and food. Regardless of how you decide to consume the CBDa, make sure to talk with your physician before adding it to your regimen.

At Tanasi, our academic research has shown that when combined, CBDA helps enhance the absorption of CBD and increases the potency and duration of its effects. This is why we use a 1:1 ratio of CBDa to CBD to help maximize the benefits that CBD has to offer. 

Where Can I Buy CBDa?

After understanding CBDa vs CBD’s distinction, it is evident that CBDa may offer a few different benefits than CBD. You may find CBDa mainly in its ‘raw’ form in CBD products. These include raw CBD oils, CBD flowers, raw hemp extracts, or whole plant juices. Pastes, oils, and tinctures with a mixture of CBDa and CBD are increasingly becoming popular. So if you are looking to add CBDa to your wellness routine, be sure to check out our full spectrum CBD products here at Tanasi


While more CBDa research is still needed, it appears that CBDa may offer benefits of its own. Both CBDa and CBD have a relationship that may need further exploration, but so far it’s evident that they work together to provide many potential benefits. As cannabinoid research continues, it’s integral to distinguish each one’s individual traits. CBDa has shown that it may be just as important as CBD and could help with its range of potentially beneficial properties. 

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