It's the precursor of CBD, but does CBDA have the same properties and promise as its more famous cannabis creation? Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in the cannabis plant with anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, antiemetic, and anti-tumor effects. The main differences between CBD & CBDA are: CBD can be extracted from the flower and leaves of hemp, while CBDA is the raw, unheated precursor of CBD. Both are non-impairing, non-intoxicating and help support body and mind.
CBDA Vs CBD: What Are the Differences?
Cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) are both well-known and abundant chemical compounds native to the cannabis and hemp plant.
CBD, the major non-psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, has been well investigated for its suspected therapeutic potential, and is currently thought to be able to treat epilepsy , inflammation , anxiety disorders , and a number of other common physical and neuropsychiatric conditions.
By comparison, CBDA has attracted much less attention from the public, the scientific community, and the media, despite being the precursor to CBD formation and showing promise in early pre-clinical research. But now, a trend of raw juicing cannabis and the advertisement of combination CBD and CBDA cannabis oils has thrust CBDA back into the spotlight, leaving many wondering what exactly is the difference between the two similarly named compounds.
What is CBDA?
CBDA is the chemical precursor to CBD. I n a process called thermal decarboxylation, CBDA is converted into CBD when the CBDA molecule is heated and loses its acidic carboxyl group. This decarboxylation process can either happen instantly , such as when the cannabis material is lit and smoked or vaporized, or by slow degradation over time if the plant material is left to sit at room temperature.
But before any of this can happen, CBDA first has to be formed from the mother of all cannabinoids, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA).
From here, plant enzymes unique to each cannabis strain convert CBGA into some varying combination of the three major cannabinoid precursor compounds: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabichromenic acid (CBCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA).
Conversion of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), to cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), to cannabidiol (CBD).
So, despite being abundant in raw cannabis, cannabis users are not actually exposed to much CBDA, as it’s converted from its “raw” form into CBD by most of the common consumption methods. For people who want to be consuming CBDA, this means having to use more uncommon or conventional consumption methods, such as topical creams, tinctures, and joining in on the raw cannabis juice trend.
But why would people go to such lengths to get a dose of CBDA in the first place? What does the raw CBD precursor offer that CBD itself does not?
Roger Pertwee, an emeritus professor at the University of Aberdeen, detailed CBDA’s therapeutic potential to Analytical Cannabis in a recent episode of our Teach Me in 10 series. Here’s what he had to say:
Normally, CBDA and the other acidic forms of cannabinoids are not considered to be pharmacologically active . This is because they don’t affect the body’s endocannabinoid system in the same way that their decarboxylated forms do. As a result, most research has focused on the effects of CBD and THC, rather than CBDA and THCA.
But new research is beginning to challenge this idea.
It all began in 2008, when researchers noticed that the molecular structure of CBDA closely resembled that of other common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The team then investigated the potential of CBDA to act as an anti-inflammatory agent and found that CBDA demonstrated the same COX-2 inhibitor behavior that enables NSAIDs to tackle inflammation.
CBDA is also thought to be a powerful treatment for nausea and anxiety. A 2013 study from scientists in Guelph, Canada, found that CBDA was a thousand times more powerful than CBD in binding to a specific serotonin receptor linked to anti-nausea and anti-anxiety effects when administered alongside low-doses of the traditional anti-nausea drug for chemotherapy patients, ondansetron (OND).
CBDA benefits and medical use
Despite its demonstrated therapeutic potential, CBDA has not normally been considered as a viable clinical treatment. Naturally, it’s quite an unstable compound – as seen by its gradual decarboxylation at room temperature – and so it wasn’t considered a viable option for clinical treatment.
But new research from Dr Raphael Mechoulam – the cannabis scientist who first synthesized THC and CBD – may have broken down that barrier. Speaking at the CannMed 2019 conference in California last month, Dr Mechoulam announced that his research team has found a way to transform the unstable CBDA into a more stable compound which retains the therapeutic potential of CBDA.
“We have taken the unstable acid molecules of the cannabis plant and synthesized them to provide a stable, consistent basis for researching new therapies across a wide range of medical needs – from central nervous system disorders to inflammation and many more,” Mechoulam said in a statement .
Mechoulam and his research team worked to stabilize the CBDA by converting it into a methyl ester derivative, known as cannabidiolic acid methyl ester, or HU-580. By testing the new compound in an animal model for depression, the researchers confirmed that compound still retains its ability to reduce anxiety-like behaviors, while being chemically stable enough to hold up as a clinical drug.
Synthesis of cannabidiolic acid metal ester, HU-580 (right) from cannabidiolic acid, CBDA (left).
“In addition, we have provided several delivery mechanisms including tablets, topical applications and others to facilitate several approaches,” said Mechoulam. “Our work is a catalyst for the development of potential new therapies from a source long thought to have huge potential.”
The discovery was made by an international collaboration of scientists from several universities in Israel, Canada, and the United States, a topical cream manufacturer, a testing lab, and the start-up company EPM.
The latter has now opened its intellectual property portfolio to the healthcare industry for licensing partnerships, in the hopes of attracting further investment. The company hopes that the compound will begin Phase 1 FDA clinical trials within the next six to twelve months.
Alexander Beadle has been working as a freelance science writer since 2017 and has covered the cannabis industry for Analytical Cannabis since 2018. He has also written for our sister publication, Technology Networks, and the cannabis industry consultant firm Prohibition Partners, among others. Alexander holds an MChem in materials chemistry from the University of St Andrews, where he won a Chemistry Purdie Scholarship and conducted research into zeolite crystal growth mechanisms and the action of single-molecule transistors.
Like what you just read? You can find similar content on the topic tag shown below.
Stay connected with the latest news in cannabis extraction, science and testing
Get the latest news with the FREE weekly Analytical Cannabis newsletter
What Is CBDA: Facts and Health Benefits
Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is a little-known cannabinoid with major therapeutic potential. In preliminary studies, CBDA has shown to treat inflammation, anxiety, seizures, and even certain types of cancer. CBDA is now seen as the next frontier in cannabinoid-based therapy.
While the research on the possible benefits of CBDA is still in its infancy, researchers are hopeful that CBDA could reduce the need for medications that can cause long-term side effects while improving people’s overall mental and physical well-being.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are the main active cannabis compounds that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a network of cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body, including the central nervous system and immune system.
In the cannabis plant, cannabinoids can mainly be found in plant material, primarily in its buds and in lower concentrations in its leaves and stems. Cannabinoids are made in the plant’s resinous trichome glands.
When growing cannabis plants, their cannabinoid concentration gradually increases up until its peak maturity point and then slowly degrades over time when exposed to heat, light, or oxidation.
CBDA and other cannabinoids start off as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), known as the mother cannabinoid. CBGA is the precursor to three of the most commonly found cannabinoids:
- Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA)
- Cannabichromenic acid (CBCA)
CBGA is made when geranyl pyrophosphate and olivetolic acid combine. An enzymatic reaction converts CBGA into a variety of cannabinoids. In cannabis plants, cannabis mainly contains these acidic cannabinoids.
In a process called decarboxylation, CBDA, THCA, and other acidic compounds convert into their decarboxylated forms, known as the main psychoactive cannabinoids (THC, CBC, CBD, etc) that can positively affect the body.
In most cannabis plants, CBDA is present in only very small amounts, although some plants have been bred to contain balanced levels of CBDA and THCA. Hemp plants, in particular, are known for their high-CBDA content and trace amounts of THCA.
Through an extraction process, hemp plants can be used to create a concentrated form of its cannabinoids.Cannabinoids in these products affect the communication of cell response signals, which can lead to a host of beneficial effects on the mind and body.
What Is CBDA?
CBDA has been on researchers rader ever since Israeli scientist Rafael Mechoulam first isolated the compound in 1965 .
So, what is CBDA? Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is the natural precursor to the cannabidiol (CBD) compound. When the acidic form is decarboxylated, CBDA transforms to CBD, the active ingredient in many infused products.
The decarboxylation process happens when heating cannabis. When heated, dried, or processed, cannabinoids undergo a change in molecular structure. In terms of its chemical composition, the process removes one acidic carboxyl group from its molecular chain.
New research is showing that activating the cannabinoid acid is not completely necessary to reap its medicinal benefits. In some cases, CBDA has been shown to be more effective than CBD in treating certain conditions.
CBDA vs CBD: Does CBDA Get You High?
Neither CBDA nor CBD cause intoxication. Most cannabinoids such as THC and CBD bind to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, but its other acidic forms take a different approach.
CBDA interacts with the endocannabinoid system by inhibiting the Cox-2 enzyme, which does not directly affect the central nervous system.
For customers who do not want to feel impaired, CBDA may be used as a treatment for a variety of medical conditions. For certain conditions, CBDA may actually produce better results than CBD.
CBDA shows promise as an effective medicine in the treatment of a variety of conditions. CBDA’s affinity for serotonin receptors helps it affect everything from mood to nausea to inflammation.
CBDA has shown to have a more intense activation of 5-HT1A serotonin receptors compared to CBD. Serotonin can affect a variety of physiological functions including mood regulation, nausea, vomiting, and intestinal motility.
Based on the current research, CBDA’s potential as a medicine is still up in the air.
Up until now, clinical trials have largely focused on animal models. Until trials focus on human health and how CBDA works, we will not know the full extent of CBDA’s power.
Here are some of the promising benefits of CBDA:
CBD burst onto the mainstream when a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex became the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved cannabis-derived prescription drug product for drug-resistant epilepsy. It follows that its acidic precursor has some potential to reduce the severity and frequency of seizures.
GW Pharma, the pharmaceutical company responsible for Epidiolex, has performed studies comparing the effects of CBDA vs CBD. In some studies, the team found that CBDA can have better bioavailability and a faster-acting effect than its parent compound.
Essentially, their studies concluded that lower doses of CBDA were required to be effective, thereby, lowering the risk of negative CBDA side effects. In some cases, CBDA proved more effective in reducing seizures compared to CBD.
CBDA has anti-inflammatory characteristics, and may be able to relieve inflammation due to its characteristics as a selective Cox-2 inhibitor. Cyclooxygenase (Cox) enzymes 1 and 2 have different responsibilities.
- Cox-1 is responsible for maintaining the stomach and intestinal lining.
- Cox-2 causes inflammation.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin work by inhibiting the effects of these enzymes. Depending on these drugs for the long-term, can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract.
For this reason, researchers have been focused on creating selective Cox-2 inhibitors that avoid inhibiting Cox-1 enzymes without the risk for major damage to the stomach and intestinal lining. CBDA works in the same way as NSAIDS but without the damaging effects to the gut.
Guelph University researchers in Ontario looked at the effects of CBD compared to CBDA on different types of vomiting and nausea. Researchers found that CBDA was a potent medicine against nausea and vomiting caused by toxin- and motion-induced vomiting and nausea.
In particular, the research found that CBDA was incredibly effective at reducing anticipatory nausea. This occurs when a person feels nauseous right before chemotherapy treatment. Since this form of nausea has no known treatments, CBDA is an incredibly promising route.
In a separate study , the research team tested the effects of a CBDA and ondansetron, an anti-nausea drug. The team found that even a very low dose of CBDA improves the drug’s antiemetic effect. A CBDA dose 1000 times less than CBD has the same effect.
A preclinical study focusing on the down regulation Cox-2 enzymes found that CBDA could help suppress the spread of a specific type of breast cancer cells. In this type of cancer, the concentration of Cox-2 is higher than average.
During the study, CBDA was used for a period of 48 hours. While it helped inhibit Cox-2, it also reduced the effectiveness of the Id-1 protein, associated with inducing cancer cell growth and survival. In addition, CBDA seems to increase Sharp-1 expression, associated with suppressing breast cancer metastasis.
While more studies are needed into its effects on cancer, CBDA is showing great promise in its suppression of harmful cells in the body.
Due to the exciting therapeutic potential of CBDA, researchers have attempted to create synthetic versions that may be used for therapeutic applications. In particular, professor Mechoulam has created a patented synthetic CBDA methyl ester.
A slight change in the chemical structure makes this methyl ester derivative more stable than its natural form. Researchers have been studying this derivative’s effects on nausea and vomiting, anxiety, depression, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Synthetic CBDA may be on the horizon but there is no guarantee that it is better functioning than its natural counterpart. For now, users can test out the effects of CBDA through its natural form.
Is CBDA Legal?
CBDA is often seen as a distinct cannabinoid from CBD, but the reality is that CBDA is largely treated like CBD in the U.S. and international market.
In the U.S., the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp production. Because of this, CBD products began to flood the market. Under the law, CBD products must contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. Cut-off limits vary by country.
Because it is non intoxicating, CBDA is completely legal in nearly all states. In states that prohibit the sale of THC, CBDA products must not contain any THC.
How to Use CBDA
In today’s fast-growing CBD market, consumers can find a variety of CBDA-rich products including CBD extract. Full-spectrum, whole-plant products contain the plant’s entire chemical profile including major and minor cannabinoids as well as terpenes and other bioactive compounds.
In its raw form, CBDA cannot be smoked because then the cannabinoid acid is converted into CBD.
Raw cannabis flowers and leaves can be used as a culinary ingredient. Eating the leaves raw in a salad, adding them into a smoothie, or making raw cannabis juice can be an excellent way to get your greens in without getting high.
Raw CBDA-rich flower buds can also be used to make tea. It is as easy as adding them into a cup and steeping them. The water will not completely decarb the CBDA but rather infuse it into your drink.
CBDA is available in many cannabis products. Consumers can shop raw hemp oil products such as raw CBD oil, CBDA capsules, and CBDA tinctures. Users can ingest them or add these oils to food and drinks or take tinctures sublingually.
Hemp Plant Relief
All the recent developments around CBDA have earned it a place among health food shelves and the ecommerce market.
CBDA has shown tremendous potential in treating a variety of conditions including anxiety, nausea, and vomiting, epilepsy, and cancer. Overall, it could lead to a more efficient endocannabinoid system.
CBDA is now stepping into the spotlight as a safe and sometimes more effective alternative to traditional medication or even its cannabinoid parent.
If you use CBD products such as CBD oil or can benefit from its potential benefits, a small dose of CBDA products can be a worthwhile treatment option.
Cut Labor Costs
Automated controls eliminate weeks or months of apprenticeship training required for manually controlled hydrocarbon systems.
Eliminate Operator Error
Pre-programmed recipe-monitoring system checks pressures and temperatures hundreds of times per second to remove risk of operator error.
Process 18 pounds of dried plant material or 25 pounds of fresh-frozen material per run. Single operator can process 400 pounds of biomass in a single day.
Improve Run Time
50-minute average run time with a 10-minute soak. Run-to-run changeover times of two minutes.
What is CBDA? Differences & Benefits of CBD vs CBDA – Healer
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid that can be extracted from the flower and leaves of hemp varieties of Cannabis sativa. CBDA is the raw, unheated precursor of CBD.
Both CBD and CBDA are non-impairing, non-intoxicating and help support body and mind. They are just two of over 100+ cannabinoids and other physiologically active constituents in Cannabis sativa.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a well-known component of hemp with diverse health benefits. Many are surprised to learn that the hemp plant does not directly produce CBD. The plant actually produces cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) which converts to CBD slowly at room temperature, or rapidly when exposed to high temperatures.
CBD and CBDA share many physiologic properties, but also have some important differences:
- CBDA is more easily absorbed (up to 11 times) when taken by mouth, compared to CBD. 
- CBDA and CBD both have anti-inflammatory properties, but may act via different mechanisms in the body. For example, unlike CBD, CBDA has been shown to decrease the activity of the COX-2 enzyme, an enzyme responsible for increasing inflammation.
- CBDA may be more potent than CBD for some applications based on studies of rodent models of nausea , stress-induced anxiety , pain and inflammation, and seizures . We don’t know if similar results translate to humans yet, but it is possible that CBDA may be more effective than CBD at lower doses.
- CBDA is unlikely to mitigate the adverse effects of THC, a common usage of CBD. While many people appreciate the combined effects of CBD and THC, some find that CBD weakens the beneficial effects of THC and may prefer CBDA.
Understanding The Benefits of CBDA
Most people are familiar with CBD oil, which is very popular these days for its health and wellness benefits. But there’s another lesser known cannabinoid called CBDA that is gaining attention from consumers and the scientific community as early findings show that even small amounts of CBDA can have significant beneficial physiological effects.
CBDA has many important differences to CBD that make it even more powerful, namely
- CBDA is better absorbed (5-11 times better)
- CBDA acts more strongly in studies on rodents for inflammatory pain, nausea, and anxiety.
- CBDA does not lower or diminish the benefits of THC like CBD.
Because high-quality human research on these cannabinoids is still emerging and there are still many unknowns, in this post we’ll share what you need to know about this CBDA oil.
- Relieve pain and inflammation after physical activity*
- Help with occasional sleeplessness*
- Improve mood, promote resilience to stress and relieve irritability*
- Promotes alertness and clear thinking*
- Enhance performance and recovery from exercise*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
What is CBDA oil?
Oils infused with CBDA are the best delivery method for taking CBDA. CBDA oil is generally concentrated and used as the active ingredient in cannabis tinctures, vaporizers, topicals, capsules, edibles and other products.
High-quality CBDA oils are harder to find because acidic cannabinoids are more difficult to extract and stabilize, but those currently available come in several forms: isolate, broad spectrum, full spectrum and Healer spectrum:
- CBDA Isolates contain CBDA alone. All of the other beneficial plant components are removed using a chemical process. Since these highly processed formulas don’t absorb as well, nano-emulsifiers are added to boost their effectiveness, and the consumer typically requires higher amounts.
- Broad Spectrum CBDA products contain CBDA along with some of the naturally occurring compounds from the hemp plant, without THC or THCa. These oils are also processed using chemical reactions to remove THC and THCA.
- Full Spectrum CBDA products include the legally allowed trace amounts of THC and THCA (a maximum of 0.3% THC). While the term ‘full spectrum’ is meant to describe products that retain all of the beneficial plant compounds, many products labeled full spectrum actually only contain THC while others add in terpenes from other plants.
- Healer Spectrum CBDA products are made using Healer’s patented nano-filtration technology to contain the full range of naturally occurring plant compounds including acidic and other minor cannabinoids, the legally allowed trace amounts of THCA and THC (less than 0.3%) , and the plant’s original terpenes, flavonoids and phytonutrients.
What is the most effective way to take CBDA?
Placing CBDA oil drops under your tongue (sublingual administration) is the best way to ensure fast and efficient absorption and minimize delays associated with digestion. CBDA oil drops may be added to food or drinks, too. However, you may require a larger amount and it may take longer to feel the effects. CBDA oil drops can be applied directly to the skin as a topical or added to your favorite cream or beauty product.
How is CBDA different from CBD?
In many ways, CBDA works similarly to CBD by influencing the endocannabinoid system and other biological systems within our bodies. But, CBDA has many important differences that make it even more powerful, namely CBDA is better absorbed (5-11 times better) and acts more strongly in the body regarding pain & inflammation after physical activity, symptoms of nausea, and worry.
You’ll see better results at lower dosages when using CBDA products (or whole plant hemp CBD products that contain CBDA) compared to pure or nearly-pure CBD isolate. If you have tried CBD without much success, don’t assume CBDA won’t help.
CBD or CBDA? Which product is best for me?
We recommend starting with Healer Hemp CBD, which contains mostly CBD and about 15% CBDA, along with the Healer Spectrum of naturally occurring minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other important phytonutrients.
While the human research on both CBD and CBDA is still emerging, early findings show that even small amounts of CBDA, like those found in our CBD formula, can have significant physiologic effects.
However, you should start with our CBDA product if:
- You want to try CBDA’s more powerful benefits or know you respond better to CBDA.
- You’ve tried CBD in the past in moderate to high amounts (25-50mg) and have been unsatisfied with the results
- You’re using THC and you don’t want your hemp product to decrease its effects
 Pellesi, L., et al. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 74.11 (2018): 1427-1436.
 Anderson, Lyndsey L., et al. Journal of natural products 82.11 (2019): 3047-3055.
 Rock, E. M., et al. Psychopharmacology 235.11 (2018): 3259-3271.
 Rock, E. M., et al. British Journal of Pharmacology 169.3 (2013): 685-69