What is CBDA and How Does It Differ from CBD?

Published November 23, 2020 by MERRY JANE Staff
You already know about CBD. But what about its sibling, CBDA?

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By now, we know you’ve probably been hammered with CBD-this and CBD-that. CBD recently became more popular than Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, and kale on Google, and it’s now in everything from sex lube to bras and… pillows

But have you ever heard about CBDA, or cannabidiolic acid? 

CBDA is the acid form of CBD. In much the same way that THCA is the acidic version of THC, so it goes with CBDA.

Let’s explain CBDA within the context of THCA. THCA is the form of THC naturally found in cannabis. When you heat THCA either by cooking it or putting it to a flame, the THCA molecule releases one molecule of CO₂, or carbon dioxide, which is the “acid” portion of THCA. When THCA is “decarboxylated,” or de-acidified, it becomes THC, the molecule that gets us lifted

Now, CBD doesn’t get anyone lit (as far as we know), so don’t expect any quick thrills from CBDA, either. However, just as CBD confers a ton of potential health benefits, so too does CBDA. 

If you want to learn more about CBD’s medicinal applications, read about them here. To better understand CBDA, it may help to understand what it possibly does better than CBD. Let’s go over that.

But, before we dive into CBDA’s benefits, you should know that most of this research is in its infancy stages. The US FDA has not yet confirmed that CBDA can treat any maladies, though the agency is working with a pharmaceutical company to study CBDA as an anti-nausea drug.

So, as it always goes, none of this information should trump your doctor’s advice. Almost all of the research you’ll find linked below was performed on lab animals. Whether this research translates to humans remains unconfirmed. So, if you’re considering CBDA as a wellness supplement, consult with your doctor first.

CBDA May Be Better at Treating Anxiety and Depression

Research suggests that CBDA could help treat clinical anxiety and depression, two conditions that can be difficult to control with conventional drugs. The body metabolizes CBDA quicker and more efficiently than CBD. Additionally, CBDA has a greater affinity than CBD for our serotonin receptors, the parts of our brains (and guts) that make us feel content, comfortable, and emotionally stable.

CBDA Could Be More Effective for Controlling Chronic Pain

The research is rapidly piling in favor of CBD’s ability to control inflammation and chronic pain. However, according to a 2018 study, CBDA may work better for reducing certain types of pain, specifically a type of pain perception called hyperalgesia. CBDA can also reduce inflammation, which not only reduces pain, but can prevent damage to nerves and tissue, as well. 

CBDA May Be a More Powerful Anti-Nausea, Anti-Seizure, or Anti-Cancer Treatment

As noted above, GW Pharmaceuticals is currently investigating CBDA as an anti-nausea treatment. The company is even looking at CBDA as an anti-seizure drug

In addition, a research group in Japan discovered some evidence that CBDA may prevent or even destroy certain kinds of aggressive breast cancer cells

OK, Where Can I Find CBDA?

Unfortunately, you won’t find many name brand CBDA products. It doesn’t yet have the research or hype as CBD does, but that may change soon.

If you’re looking to supplement your wellness regimen with CBDA, you can find it naturally in any cannabis flower that’s considered “high-CBD” or “CBD-rich” (think Charlotte’s Web, Harlequin, or Treasure Island). Although we tend to think of these plants as containing lots of CBD, they actually contain lots of CBDA. So long as you don’t decarb the plant’s CBDA with heat or chemicals, it will remain CBDA when you consume it raw. 

How to consume CBDA raw? Look into juicing your cannabis, or even eating it straight out of the bottle or bag like you would a salad. You can also extract concentrated CBDA using cold extraction methods.