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Cannabinoids (CBDa vs CBD)

THC & CBD. These two compounds are at the center of the cannabis world. Many have found their way to cannabis (What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?) in their own search for wellness. Whether it be for sleep, anxiety, or  pain, for nausea, skin-health, or muscle recovery, cannabis has your back. THC and CBD are what is known as cannabinoids, or compounds that include the active components of cannabis.

But these are not the only two cannabinoids. In fact, there are several cannabinoids that naturally come from within your body, endocannabinoids. All these cannabinoids interact with a bodily system called The Endocannabinoid System, or ECS for short. The ECS has a variety of physiological duties and it is tasked with keeping the body in a stable, balanced state between all operational and functional aspects of the body. This state is known as homeostasis. In the rest of this article, we’ll help you understand the differences of two popular cannabinoids: CBDa vs CBD.

The Other Cannabinoids and Decarboxylation

Although THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the most well known and most abundant cannabinoids found in cannabis, they are actually the end result of several other precursor cannabinoids breaking down or, as known in the cannabis community, decarboxylating. The ‘mother’ of all cannabinoids is CBGA, cannabigerolic acid. The ‘decarb’ process uses heat to break off and release the carboxyl group of compounds from cannabinoids. A carboxyl group consists of a carbon atom, two oxygen atoms, and a hydrogen atom. A carboxylic acid, such as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), is an organic material containing a carboxyl group. When decarboxylated, these precursor cannabinoids release carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen, leaving behind new cannabis compounds. The three main compounds are:

1) Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), the precursor to THC 

2) Cannabichromene carboxylic acid (CBCA), the precursor to cannabichromene (CBC)

3) Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), the precursor to CBD

The rest of this article is going to focus on CBDa vs CBD.

Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)

As cannabis becomes a more researched topic, more cannabinoids are discovered and subsequently made into products for consumers’ wellness. Now many people are wondering the differences of CBDa vs CBD. CBDA loaded hemp flower has become increasingly popular. The decarboxylation process required to convert CBDA into CBD can be accomplished during the smoking of the hemp flower. Meaning, your CBDA flower can provide you with the potential benefits of CBD. This infograph will help you better understand CBDa vs CBD:


Unlike CBD which interacts with cannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2), CBDA instead, selectively inhibits certain enzymes to help achieve beneficial results such as relief from inflammation and nausea. It may even be useful in cancer treatments. This short list goes over the CBDa vs CBD benefits:

Potential Benefits of CBDA


Cyclooxygenase isoenzymes (COX-1 & COX-2) are compounds that, in part, produce prostaglandins which promotes inflammation. Drugs like Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), inhibit the COX enzymes, providing “ . . . relief from inflammatory  . . . maladies” (Fitzpatrick). One promising study found “ . . . that naturally occurring CBDA in cannabis is a selective inhibitor for COX-2” (Takeda, et al.). 


The most studied use for CBDA is for nausea and the results are very promising. One such study on rodents states that “Compared with cannabidiol, CBDA displays significantly greater potency at inhibiting vomiting” (Bolognini, et  al). In fact, CBDA can be a staggering 100-1000 times as potent as CBD at reducing nausea in animal-based chemotherapy treatments (Parker). When paired with THC, CBDA shows even more promise in reducing nausea (Parker). 

The Parker study also concluded that an increase in serotonin (5-HT) levels in the forebrain can trigger nausea. CBDA was found to be an antagonist of receptors for serotonin, therefore suppressing nausea (Parker, 119). 


One type of breast cancer cells, MDA-MB-231, seems to stop in its tracks when the patient is treated with CBDA (Aramaki, et al). The study states “ . . . CBDA inhibits migration of the highly invasive MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells . . .” (Aramaki). The need for more studies is necessary to find out just how much CBDA and other cannabinoids can help us be well.

How to Find Quality CBDA Products

Now that you have a better idea of CBDa vs CBD, it is important to look for lab-tested results from third party sources. There should be less than the legal limit of 0.3% delta9-thc in the product. Also make sure to check that there is the correct amount of CBD or CBDA as advertised by the product. Many product labels feature QR codes that can be easily scanned by just pointing your smartphone camera at and clicking the link.

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