CBD vs CBDA: Similarities, Differences, & Uses Explained

Two glass containers full of CBD oil with cannabis leaves in the shaddows.

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CBDA, or cannabidiolic acid, is one of the lesser-known compounds of the cannabis plant. While CBDA is comparable to CBD, the two have different characteristics.

CBDA and CBD both come from the same plant – cannabis. The difference is that CBDA is acidic while CBD is not. When CBDA undergoes any form of treatment, like exposure to heat, the natural compounds break down and you get CBD. Recent studies have suggested that CBDA may be more potent than CBD.

 Both compounds may work differently and serve different uses that can be revealed as we learn more about them.

What is the difference between CBD and CBDA?

CBDA and CBD are both quite similar on a molecular level and both provide much of the same health advantages. However, there are some key differences between them:

  • CBDA is tricky to mass produce due to its volatile nature

  • CBDA is acidic while CBD is not

  • CBDA undergoes treatment like heating or drying to produce CBD

  • CBDA has been found to be effective in inhibiting the spread of COVID-19

  • Some studies have suggested that CBDA is more potent than CBD

The primary distinction separating CBDA and CBD is the acidity in CBDA. CBDA is an acidic compound that is a naturally occurring chemical present in the cannabis plant that only becomes CBD once it is heated, dried, or cured.

When cannabis is processed, CBDA, like many other cannabinoids, gradually changes. The acidic substances are broken down into new chemicals when the plant is treated. Through this method, one can extract substantial quantities of CBD from CBDA.

What is CBD?

CBD, often known as cannabidiol (different from CBDA due to the lack of acid), is the second most common active component in cannabis. Although CBD is an important element of cannabis, it is either directly extracted from the hemp plant, a plant related to cannabis, or produced in a lab through treatment. CBD is just one among hundreds of components in cannabis.

CBD is increasingly being used medicinally due to its many health benefits. CBD is widely used to treat inflammation and other pain relief, including arthritis, injuries, and other aches. CBD is also effective for mood enhancement, anxiety, and depression reduction, and aids in achieving quality sleep.

Bottle of CBD oil standing on the table with two cannabis leafs laying on the table and the words CBD oil behind.

What is CBDA?

Cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA, is a naturally occurring compound produced by the cannabis plant (much like CBD). CBDA is quite a new finding, having just been discovered in 1996. It’s most commonly found in raw, uncooked cannabis plants.

  • Does CBDA convert to CBD?

Yes, it’s entirely possible. CBDA is heated or dried to take away its acidic qualities. This conversion to denature CBDA and remove the acid is done through a process called decarboxylation. This results in “activated” CBD. As a result, CBDA may spontaneously transform to CBD only via heat and oxygen exposure.

Let’s get more specific.

As previously stated, one distinguishing factor between CBDA and CBD is that CBDA is acidic. This is due to the presence of a chemical chain termed “carboxyl”.

When cannabis is treated through procedures like heating or air exposure, as mentioned above, the carboxylic molecules gradually dissolve.

When this occurs, CBDA and many of the dozens of other acidic cannabinoids shed their acidity. Hence, they become ‘activated’, leading to the creation of CBD.

  • Does CBDA get you high?

Both CBDA and CBD are two chemicals that have one thing in common: neither will get you high. They both produce a calm and slightly drowsy feeling, and they aid with pains or inflammation.

CBD is only present in trace amounts in living, growing marijuana plants. Manufacturers may transform CBDA into CBD through treatment by drying or boiling the plant.

  • Is CBDA legal?

CBDA is totally legal in practically all states since it is non-intoxicating and doesn’t get you high. However, CBDA products and goods are not allowed to contain any THC in places where the distribution of THC is prohibited.

The United States Farm Bill of 2018 allowed industrial hemp cultivation. However, CBD products cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight, according to the regulations.

CBDA is sometimes perceived as a different cannabinoid from CBD, although in practice, CBDA is actually handled as CBD in the US and foreign markets.

What are the benefits of CBDA?

Not much is known about the effects of CBDA compared to that of CBD. This is because CBD has been researched for a long time now, but scientists are only recently starting to investigate the impact of CBDA.

The reason for the lack of research on CBDA is that researchers did not believe cannabinoids had any impact in this acidic, inactive state. However, CBDA does seem to have the potential to be a successful drug in the treatment of a wide range of illnesses.

CBDA has been found to have a stronger stimulation of serotonin receptors compared to CBD. This is important because serotonin has the ability to influence and relieve a wide range of physiological activities including:

  • inflammation
  • mood
  • pain
  • nausea
  • appetite
  • intestinal movement
  • seizures
  • sleep

Despite all this, CBDA’s potential and efficacy as a medication is presently unclear, based on research and studies currently available to us.

Clinical experiments involving CBDA have always relied heavily on animal studies, so we won’t know the full degree of CBDA’s potency until studies begin to concentrate on human exposure and how CBDA operates on the human body.

Womens hand holding an eyedropper full of CBD oil with one drop falling from the tip.

What is CBDA used for?

Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is a relatively new cannabinoid with immense medicinal potential. CBDA has been proven in preclinical tests to cure inflammation, anxiety, seizures, and potentially some forms of cancer. CBDA is currently regarded as the exciting next step forward in cannabinoid-based medicine.

CBDA vs CBD benefits

Based on preliminary research, CBDA and CBD have both been found to have great health benefits when it comes to relieving inflammation, nausea, pain, anxiety, and sleep. CBDA has shown that it outperforms its non-acidic counterpart for most uses.

  • CBDA vs CBD for pain

Because CBDA is more potent than CBD, experts in Dr. Linda Parker’s group at the University of Guelph investigated if it may alleviate pain induced by inflammation. When administered to rats, they discovered that CBDA may decrease discomfort and inflammation.

In fact, CBDA decreased irritation in these rats at a considerably lower dosage than CBD, suggesting that this chemical may be even more efficient than CBD at reducing pain.

  • CBDA vs CBD for anxiety

Canadian scientists investigated CBDA as a medication for anxiety and nausea in 2013.

When taken with modest dosages of standard anti-nausea medicines in chemotherapy patients, CBDA was shown to be a whopping thousand times more potent than CBD when it came to relieving anxiety and nausea.

  • CBDA vs CBD for inflammation

CBDA has been demonstrated to suppress the COX-2 enzyme, which is a prime target of standard anti-inflammatory drugs, especially in breast cancer cells. 

Based on previous research on rats as mentioned earlier, CBDA may be more efficacious than CBD in various applications when it comes to inflammation, seizures, anxiety, and nausea.

  • CBDA vs CBD for sleep

Both CBD and CBDA are effective when aiding quality sleep. However, CBDA has shown to be more helpful in doses that are much smaller compared to CBD.

This is because these compounds interact directly with your endocannabinoid system to regulate your sleep patterns and circadian rhythms. These compounds are also effective in treating anxiety, so if you have trouble sleeping due to anxious feelings or nightmares it can help in those circumstances as well.

Many people benefit greatly from consuming CBD or CBDA before sleeping.

Is CBDA more effective than CBD?

CDBA is more effective than CBD. As we learned earlier, CBDA can be a thousand times more potent than CBD at activating serotonin receptors, which relieves nausea and anxiety. 

It’s also more effective in relieving pain, inflammation, and anxiety while improving overall sleep in doses much lower than one would take when using CBD for the same use.

Nevertheless, CBD is tried and tested as a mainstream chemical and continues to have its own health benefits.

It is also worth mentioning that CBD has been studied much more and we know a lot more about its interactions and impacts on health and wellness. Because CBDA was only recently discovered, there can still be much we don’t know about it.

Is CBDA stronger than CBD?

If you consider ‘better’ or ‘stronger’ to be more effective or potent, then CBDA is indeed more preferable than CBD. CBDA, even sometimes known as the “mother of all cannabinoids,” has been shown in animal experiments to be more powerful than both CBD and THC.

But studies about CBDA are still quite young, and there is still a lot we don’t know about this compound when compared to the wealth of knowledge we have about the more long-standing, popular compounds like CBD and THC.

Can you take CBD and CBDA together?

The best method – and the one we recommend – is to combine CBD and CBDA.

Both CBD and CBDA – like many other cannabinoids – function well together and may enhance each other’s advantages via a phenomenon called the entourage effect.

The entourage effect is the notion that all of the components in cannabis interact with one another and provide a stronger impact when consumed together than when taken separately, thus giving you a more potent ‘hit’.

Is CBDA in full-spectrum CBD products?

CBDA is found in relatively tiny amounts in full-spectrum CBD oil products. If you wish to acquire a greater dosage of CBDA, you’d have to mix hemp strains, which are only authorized in a few states.

Where to buy CBDA

If you’re looking to buy safe, high-quality CBDA products, CBDFacilitator recommends starting with this Raw Synergy Tincture.

It offers all the benefits of a full-spectrum CBD, but combines a blend of both CBDA and CBD, enhancing the benefits of each other to give you the best of both worlds.

We have personally tried all products that we recommend. Because the CBD world is unregulated and full of information (some trustworthy, some not so much) we suggest following our blog and our product recommendations so that you can weed out the truly useful and healthy CBD and CBDA products!

Josh Murdoch

Josh Murdoch

I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and although it is incurable, CBD and THC have been allowing me to live my life as a healthy adult now for years. For that reason, I’ve dedicated my career to spreading the good news about cannabinoids. Currently, I work for a vertically integrated cannabis company called Unrivaled Brands that operates in California, Oregon, and Nevada. Previously, I worked on two cannabis farms in northern California, one of which was located in the famous Humboldt County. I’ve also managed a medical cannabis delivery service in Marin County, California. I created CBD Facilitator to share what I’ve learned, and to recommend the best products that I have found in this chaotic market.

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