Differences Between CBD and CBDa That Make Them Unique

differences between cbd and cbda

Posted on December 8th, 2020

Humans have used cannabis for millennia as a food, for its fibers, as well as for its reported medicinal properties. It is only within the past few decades, however, that humanity has really started to understand its chemical makeup. Research from the 1970s revealed the presence of different compounds in the cannabis plant called cannabinoids. About 113 are considered to have effects on the brain and body. Still, there’s limited research into each of the cannabinoids and their specific properties. THC and CBD are perhaps two of the most researched cannabinoids. THC, as you might know, is responsible for the ‘high’ that marijuana causes. CBD, on the other hand, has gained a lot of popularity for its potential health benefits. But what about CBDa, the lesser-known cannabinoid? How is it related to CBD? What are the differences between CBD and CBDa?

Differences Between CBD and CBDa

First, let’s look at what these two cannabis compounds are. Then we can better explore the differences between CBD and CBDa.

What is CBDa?

Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) is a compound that occurs naturally in abundance in growing hemp and cannabis plants. It is the acid form of CBD or the unheated or “raw” form of CBD. When CBDa is heated up, it turns into CBD. CBDa interacts with the body and endocannabinoid system. It may offer health benefits that range from pain relief to mood enhancement.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is also a naturally occurring compound in hemp and cannabis plants. It, however, occurs in very small quantities in living cannabis plants. Instead, CBD comes into existence only once you process and heat the dried plant. CBD is activated when the cannabis plant is exposed to heat in a process known as decarboxylation.

CBD gets a lot of attention for its potential health benefits, but CBDa is probably unknown to a lot of people. If you are like most people, you most likely have questions regarding this compound. CBD and CBDa don’t have intoxicating effects on the brain, which means that they won’t get high the way THC can. While they share some similarities, there are some differences you should know about.

Top 5 Differences Between CBD and CBDa

  1. Formation

One of the differences between CBD and CBDa is when each compound appears in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant are not always there simultaneously. Some undergo several processes before they become the final cannabinoids.

Acids are formed first. Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) comes first and all other cannabinoids stem from it. The CBGA is subsequently converted into other acids. These include Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa), Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa) and Cannabichromenic acid (CBCa). Enzymes that are unique to every cannabis plant cause the conversions.

That’s where the difference between CBD and CBDa arises. CBDa occurs naturally in the cannabis plant. Enzymes in the plant convert CBGA to CBDa and other acids. On the other hand, CBD does not really appear naturally in the cannabis plant. Instead, it is formed after the CBDa is exposed to heat in a process known as decarboxylation.

Decarboxylation is a chemical process that removes a carboxyl group. It happens once CBDa is heated to a temperature of about 270°F. The process converts the ‘inactive’ CBDa into cannabidiol to produce its benefits. Decarboxylation can also occur if you smoke the cannabis or hemp. Extreme heat from the sun can also cause some decarboxylation in growing plants.

  1. Consumption Method

CBDa exists in raw cannabis leaves and flowers, which is why juicing raw cannabis is the best consumption method. It can be bitter, which is why it might be necessary to add sugar or a different kind of sweetener. 

CBD only occurs after decarboxylation, which means that the cannabis has to be first exposed to heat to access the healing properties of CBD. The most popular ways to consume CBD include vaping and smoking as well as in tinctures, lotions, oils, capsules, and gummies.

  1. Potential Health Benefits

Both CBD and CBDa are becoming popular because many people want the benefits of cannabis without the “high”. While both have similar potential health benefits, the compounds contained in each aren’t identical in terms of those potential therapeutic effects.

Decarboxylation activates certain properties that are dormant in CBDa, but it also destroys some terpenes. So CBD may offer a wider range of potential health benefits, but it does not offer as many terpene-related benefits.

Studies show that CBD may help improve general well-being and help people dealing with a range of health issues. Many claim it helps with depression, anxiety, epilepsy, stroke, vomiting and nausea, multiple sclerosis, insomnia, and inflammation.

CBDa has yet to receive as much attention from the research community as CBD. Due to this, the true potential of CBDa is still largely unknown at this time. Still, experts have discovered that, with a doctor’s permission, it may be used to improve conditions for people with a number of health conditions. These include seizures, psychotic disorders, inflammation, bacterial infection, arthritis, and pain.

Research shows that using CBD and CBDa together provides the maximum potential health benefits. This is particularly the case if the condition being treated is the result of improper regulation of multiple systems throughout the body. Studies show that CBDa can actually enhance the potency of CBD. This means that users can consume smaller quantities while still experiencing the same level of effectiveness.

However, it is important to never substitute doctor prescribed medications for CBD and CBDa. Always consult with your doctor before you try any new health and wellness product. Be sure to discuss whether any medications you are currently taking are likely to interact with cannabis.     

  1. What Does CBD Look Like - Content is on the product labelAvailability

Unlike CBD, it is hard to find CBDa products. Due to CBD’s popularity, it is much more prevalent in any cannabis market. Most hemp in the USA is primarily for CBD production. On the other hand, CBDa is rather rare.

The demand is high for both medical cannabis and recreational cannabis in the states where it is legal. Therefore, farmers generally don’t target the CBDa market. Simply put, most farmers don’t bother to grow cannabis for CBDa harvesting.

Raw uncured cannabis that is rich in CBDa can be difficult to find. Even in areas where marijuana is legal, it is sometimes still not possible to find it in local dispensaries. If you do come across raw cannabis flowers or leaves, you can store them in the refrigerator just as you would any other leafy green vegetable.

If you want to enjoy the numerous health benefits of CBDa, you can still find it in raw and full spectrum CBD products. Oils and tinctures containing both CBD and CBDa are becoming increasingly popular. As that popularity grows, you can expect products containing CBDa to become more widespread. 

  1. Working Mechanisms

To wrap up the differences between CBD and CBDa, it is important to look at how both of them work. CBD and CBDa both have a positive impact on the endocannabinoid system. The ECS is responsible for regulating metabolism, cellular communication, immune response, mood, and metabolism.

CBD and CBDa don’t interact with the endocannabinoid system’s main receptors directly. But they can inhibit and activate other receptors to keep the body healthy. When it comes to the working mechanisms, the key differences between CBD and CBDa lie in the specific receptors that they influence:

– Cannabidiol reacts with serotonin, adenosine, and vanilloid receptors. These reactions mediate inflammation, pain, depression, and anxiety.

– CBD also inhibits the CPR55 receptor to improve bone density, blood pressure, and cancer-fighting abilities.

– CBDa, on the other hand, blocks the activities of receptors such as COX-1 and COX-2, which cause inflammation. By doing so, it helps reduce inflammation, seizures, and symptoms of diseases. 

Conclusion: Differences Between CBD and CBDa

Now that you know about the differences that exist between CBD and CBDa, you may wonder which one is better. The truth is that both of them provide good potential health benefits, which is why it is useless to choose one over the other. Ideally, you should strive to take them both to enjoy the numerous health benefits they provide in tandem. 

Do you want benefits from both CBD and CBDa? Well you can do that by choosing full spectrum CBD products like Tanasi’s. They have ensured that you don’t have to choose between a product containing either CBD or CBDa. Tanasi sells full spectrum hemp oil that contains both CBD and CBDa, along with many other cannabinoids. This means you only need one well-crafted product to achieve the maximum benefits of the hemp plant.


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