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. Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa), chemical precursor to cannabidiol (CBD) can interact with systems in our bodies and produce benefits of its own.
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
CBDa vs CBD
Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) is the chemical precursor to cannabidiol (CBD) in cannabis plants. For decades it’s been seen as an inactive stepping stone in the process to create CBD, but now scientists have found that it can interact with systems in our bodies and produce benefits of its own. Studies show that it may interact with serotonin receptors and prostaglandin releasing enzymes.
What is CBDa and how is it different to CBD?
Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) and cannabidiol (CBD) are both cannabinoids found in plants of the Cannabis Sativa L. species. They contain over a hundred cannabinoids which they produce during their lifetime through a series of chemical reactions. Most cannabinoids come in two main forms: the acid form and the ‘active’ form. The acid forms of cannabinoids are unstable and over time, or if exposed to heat, they decarboxylate (remove the acid molecule) to become active.
However, during the lifecycle of the plants other reactions occur that transform cannabinoids into different types. For example, Cannabigerolic acid (CBGa) is among the first to be present in the plant and is often referred to as ‘the mother of all cannabinoids’. As the young plants develop, CBGa is changed to produce the main three acidic cannabinoids, one of which is CBDa. If the plant matter is heated, an acidic carboxyl group of atoms is lost from the CBDa molecule and it becomes CBD.
Most raw cannabis plant material contains very little CBD unless it’s been left for a long time or exposed to heat. As a result, in most commercial CBD oil production processes, the raw material is heated to convert the CBDa into CBD. The process is rarely 100% successful, so most CBD products contain a large amount of CBD and a smaller amount of CBDa.
As scientists have published their findings about CBDa, brands who produce hemp products have seen its potential as a food supplement. Consequently, now you’re more likely to see CBDa mentioned on the label of CBD products. You may see ‘CBD + CBDa’ or even ‘raw’ hemp oils that contain more CBDa and less CBD.
Does CBDa provide different benefits to CBD?
Yes, CBDa produces different benefits to CBD because it interacts with systems in your body in different ways:
Cyclooxygenase enzymes – CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system by blocking the enzymes that breakdown the endocannabinoid anandamide. Anandamide is an essential signalling molecule that regulates and balances many body systems. By blocking these enzymes, CBD raises the levels of anandamide, allowing your ECS to restore any imbalances in your body more quickly.
CBDa doesn’t bind with the same enzymes; instead, it interacts with the cyclooxygenase enzyme known as COX-2. These enzymes are responsible for producing the chemical prostaglandins.
Recent theories suggest that if CBD is blocking the first set of anandamide-metabolising enzymes, COX-2 provides an alternate pathway to break down anandamide. If both CBD and CBDa are present, both pathways are blocked and your anandamide levels are even more likely to increase, adding to the amount that can build up for use elsewhere in your body.
Serotonin receptors – Some studies have also found that CBDa is more effective than CBD at activating the 5-HT1A receptors that interact with serotonin. When activated, these receptors bind with serotonin and produce effects that support your general wellbeing.
While both CBD and CBDa can do this, studies have shown that in this area, the effect of CBDa is much more significant.
Taking CBDa and CBD together
While CBDa should be viewed as a useful cannabinoid in its own right, most of the effects it produces appear to work well alongside those of CBD. There are several ways you can consume both:
- Raw hemp oils – These are oils that have been made without the use of heat. Because no decarboxylation takes place, they usually contain higher levels of other cannabinoids including CBDa and slightly less CBD.
- Full-spectrum products – These contain all the cannabinoids present in the hemp plant, including CBD, CBDa and THC. Usually, they’re CBD-rich with only traces of everything else.
- Broad-spectrum products – These contain all the cannabinoids from the hemp plant except for THC. As with full-spectrum products, the most abundant cannabinoid is CBD.
- Taking hemp tea alongside CBD products – Hemp tea is made from raw hemp flowers, leaves, stems and seeds. It’s usually dried and milled so it can be easily infused with hot water to make a tasty brew. Because it’s had minimal processing and no decarboxylation it’s rich in CBDa and contains no CBD. Most teas range between 1% CBDa and 4% CBDa. If you already take CBD products regularly, adding hemp tea to your routine provides an excellent additional source of CBDa.
Despite recent research expanding our understanding of the potential benefits of CBDa, CBD still remains the best option in terms of overall general effects. However, CBDa has a lot to offer and works particularly well when used as a companion cannabinoid and taken with CBD. Many products, like those made with full or broad-spectrum extracts, already have a useful blend of the two but if you want to top up on CBDa adding a cup of hemp tea to your day is a great way to start.
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Tom Russell writes extensively about CBD oil and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.