What is Decarboxylation and Its Effect on CBD?

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Decarboxylation plays an important role in maximizing the effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound found abundantly in the cannabis plant.

Also known as a cannabinoid, this compound has proven through extensive research to be effective in improving general health and alleviating a wide range of health problems including pain, inflammation, slow metabolism, loss of appetite, sleeping difficulty, anxiety and heart disease.

While consuming raw cannabis is completely safe (it’s actually pretty healthy to do so), CBD must undergo decarboxylation in order to provide tip top health benefits to users.

Consider this post equivalent to an introduction to Algebra – it may sound complex, but it is actually quite simple. Here, we will go over the importance of decarboxylating CBD, what the process involves and advantages/disadvantages of the whole bit.

What is decarboxylation, you ask?

Decarboxylation is the heating of raw cannabis materials. By heating cannabis and the compounds part of the plant, decarboxylation turns inactive components into active components. In other words, it enhances the effects brought on by CBD, big time.

Now, cannabis will undergo decarboxylation naturally over time, but that can take months for the process to be completed under normal storage conditions. So, by applying heat (through an oven, stove, smoke pipe or the like), CBD can be decarboxylated at a much quicker rate, in turn unleashing all of those potential health goodies mentioned above.

In order to better understand why we decarboxylate our CBD, it’s worth mentioning that CBD actually exists in the form of CBDa (known as CBD’s acidic precursor) first. CBDa is an “inactive” component whose acidic form offers a number of health benefits of its own. Researchers have even found that CBDa can help fight bacterial infection, nausea and cancer.

But, CBD is known to provide those exact same benefits along with many more, including having a positive impact on many bodily functions like immunity, metabolism, mood, appetite and mental abilities.

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By turning CBDa into CBD, decarboxylation makes cannabis a seriously more powerful therapeutic agent, as its wellness benefits become readily available after heat is applied. Decarboxylation also ensures the CBD obtained will be cleaner, purer and more easily absorbed throughout the body.

See, that wasn’t so difficult to comprehend, right?

Onto the actual decarboxylation process now.

Decarboxylation Process

Decarboxylation can be performed before, during or after the extraction of CBD. Many manufacturers choose to decarboxylate during the extraction process as that seems to be the most efficient way in achieving a complete extraction they are satisfied with.

The process of decarboxylation can vary significantly in terms of elaborateness, depending on the quality of CBD users or cultivators want to obtain.

For best results, you can use a two-step heating process, which has proven an efficient method:

When decarboxylating cannabis materials with a high CBD content, you will simply (1) heat the materials for 15 minutes at 105 degrees Celsius, and then (2) heat them again for 30 minutes at 140 degrees Celsius. This method will convert at least 95 percent of CBDa to CBD.

An easier way to decarboxylate may be to place your raw cannabis in an oven preheated at 110 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure the toasting is even throughout.

Disadvantage of Decarboxylation Process

You now know that decarboxylating maximizes the therapeutic properties of CBD – but, decarboxylation can also result in the loss of some beneficial essential oils found in the cannabis plant called terpenes (read all about terpenes in our previous post here).

Because terpenes are known to relieve pain, inflammation, ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, arthritis, heartburn, insomnia, anxiety and depression, decarboxylating is viewed as a disadvantage in this sense due to the potential loss of this heap of health benefits.

Terpenes are also said to boost the effectiveness of CBD and other cannabinoids (check out the entourage effect post). Through decarboxylation, these oils will inevitably be lost when the cannabis is exposed to extreme heat, but, you can minimize the terpene loss by using a lower temperature. So, not all hope is lost. You simply need to be mindful of your temperatures (which will take longer, but if it’s quality you’re going for, the prolonged time period is worth it).

Conclusion

The way a CBD product is decarboxylated has a significant impact on its quality and potency. If you want to get the most out of CBD, it is essential you choose products from reputable manufacturers that use proper decarboxylation methods.

Takeaways

  • Decarboxylation is the heating of raw cannabis materials
  • CBD first exists as CBDa until it is decarboxylated, turning the inactive cannabinoid active
  • The temperature at which you decarboxylate can determine the loss or gain of highly beneficial cannabis oils, terpenes
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