CBDa: All You Need to Know About CBD’s Acidic Precursor

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CBDa: All You Need to Know About CBD’s Acidic Precursor

Did you think you knew it all after gaining insight on the differences between CBD and THC? We’re throwing another chemical compound at you in this post, who goes by the name of “CBDa.”

Get ready to be amazed yet again as this insanely useful cannabinoid continues to grab our attention, one health benefit after another.

Assuming you haven’t heard of CBDa, we’re giving you the rundown on what it is exactly and why it’s important to CBD, also laying out the healing potential of each cannabinoid individually and in tandem.

Cannabidiol (CBD), as you know, has been gaining oodles of attention recently due to its tremendous (and vast) therapeutic properties. Studies are proving over and over again that this chemical compound can have a significant positive impact on everything in our bodies from immunity, metabolism, mood, appetite, sleep, pain tolerance and mental competence.

As the second-most prominent cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, CBD exists first as cannabidiolic acid, or CBDa, before it is processed and used for medical and health purposes.

With CBD becoming the most promising cannabinoid for medical research, CBDa has been overlooked in the past. But, a new trend of juicing raw cannabis has brought CBDa back into the spotlight. Because CBD is derived from CBDa, there is a common misconception that they are the same chemical compound. In actuality, they differ from one another in a number of ways, including chemical composition, working mechanism and health benefits; three things to be explained below.

But first, how the heck does CBDa become CBD?

Found in fresh cannabis plants, CBDa is the acidic precursor to CBD. While it does have some healing properties of its own, it is often processed with the goal of providing even more health benefits.

CBDa naturally becomes CBD as it undergoes degradation over time, but it can be transformed more quickly through decarboxylation – A process that looks much more complex than what it actually is – the simple act of heating cannabis plant materials through cooking or smoking.

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Depending on the amount of time or heat applied, decarboxylation may or may not completely turn CBDa into CBD, which means the resultant chemical compound may still contain a trace amount of CBDa.

Differences Between CBD and CBDa

Chemical Composition

The chemical formula for CBD is C₂₁H₃₀O₂ while the chemical formula for CBDa is C₂₂H₃₀O₄ respectively. CBD’s chemical composition is simpler because of the absence of the carboxylic acid group, which is removed during decarboxylation. The removal of this carboxyl group turns the inactive components in CBDa into active components, thereby unlocking more therapeutic properties.

Working Mechanism

Both CBD and CBDa have a positive impact on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which serves to regulate balance in immune response, cellular communication, metabolism, mood and other bodily functions.

While the two compounds do not interact directly with the main receptors of the ECS, they can activate (and inhibit) other receptors to keep the body healthy.

In terms of working mechanism, the main difference between CBD and CBDa lies in the types of receptors they influence:

  • CBD is known to react with adenosine, serotonin and vanilloid receptors to mediate pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression and other conditions.
  • CBD also inhibits the GPR55 receptor to improve bone density, blood pressure and cancer-fighting abilities.
  • CBDa, in contrast to CBD, works by blocking the activities of receptors responsible for causing inflammation, such as COX-1 (expressed in the gastrointestinal tract) and COX-2 (predominating at sites of inflammation)
    • Through this, CBDa can reduce seizures, inflammation and symptoms of diseases.

Researchers have found that CBD and CBDa provide the best results when they work together. This is especially true if the condition results from the improper regulation of multiple systems in the body.

Recent studies have also shown that CBDa can enhance the potency of CBD, allowing users to use a smaller amount to attain the same level of effectiveness.
Health Benefits

Now that we’ve educated you on the scientifics of CBD and CBDa, let’s talk about the fun stuff – their health benefits.

Both CBD and CBDa are suitable for healthcare use because they are non-psychoactive, meaning they do not maker their users feel “high.”

While the two compounds have similar health benefits, they are not entirely the same in terms of therapeutic effects. The process of decarboxylation activates certain dormant medicinal properties of CBDa, but it also results in the loss of beneficial cannabis oils called terpenes.

Therefore, CBD provides a wider range of health benefits compared to CBDa, but it does not offer as many terpene-related benefits as CBDa.

To date, CBD has been more extensively studied than CBDa. Researchers found this cannabis-derivative can help improve general well-being and alleviate many health problems, including:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Sleeping Difficulty
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Acne
  • Addiction

Compared to its activated counterpart, CBDa has gotten significantly less attention from researchers (probably because people were not aware of its existence). Because of this, its true potential is relatively unknown, for the moment anyway. Although, experts have discovered CBDa can help treat a number of health conditions (several of them similar to CBD), including:

  • Bacterial Infection
  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Anxiety
  • Psychotic Disorders


Despite their differences, both CBD and CBDa can be very beneficial to your health. Whether you’re looking to treat a specific condition or improve overall health, it is important you select products that are effective and safe.


  • CBD and CBDa are two separate cannabinoids
  • CBDa becomes CBD after decarboxylation
  • Researchers have found CBD and CBDa provide the best results when they work together
  • Both cannabinoids are beneficial to one’s health and well-being
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