CBDA vs CBD – Understand the Difference and Benefits
New research is finding that CBDA oil (cannabidiolic acid) has significant health benefits for the endocannabinoid system, and also has anti-inflammatory properties not seen from CBD oil (cannabidiol). With new CBDA products coming on the market, and recent publications showing CBDA can help with sleep, anxiety, and inflammation, people are wondering about the benefits of CBDA vs CBD.
One of the main health benefits of CBDA is its very high absorption compared to CBD, allowing a much smaller amount to be used for medicinal benefits.
CBDA and CBD have some similar benefits, as shown by researchers assessing effects on cellular function, but they both some unique properties as well due to their structural differences.
What are the benefits of CBDA vs CBD?
Many studies have reported on the benefits and effects of CBDA and CBD:
- Problems falling asleep
- Social anxiety
- Elevated stress
- Joint discomfort
- Seizure control
CBD has been widely tested, in part due to its ease of extraction and from early studies showing its interactions with the endocannabinoid system through the CB2 receptor. CBDA has also been shown to interact with the CB2 receptor, although at a lower affinity than other cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
CBDA is a more recent compound to be studied in the hemp oil research space, but is gaining traction as an important modulator of the endocannabinoid system. The difference between cbda oil and cbd oil is under active research, but may hinge a lot on the absorption properties.
One of the main benefits of CBDA vs CBD is the enhanced absorption of CBDA compared to the decarboxylated CBD form. Clinical trials evaluating the blood levels of CBDA vs CBD found that it had over 450% more absorption when taken orally.
New research is finding that CBDA may also have significant anti-inflammatory properties related to its ability to decrease COX-2 activity. COX-2 (cyclooxygenase 2) is a critical enzyme involved in driving inflammatory states. This enzyme is a common target for anti inflammatory drugs NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs), commonly know as Ibuprofen.
Nausea is another symptom that has been studied as a significant potential target for the use of CBDA. There are a number of animal studies showing that CBDA is beneficial in decreasing symptoms of nausea. Anti nausea and vomiting appear to be a potent target for CBDA through the body’s endocannabinoid system, but has not been approved by the food and drug administration for this condition.
There are a number of studies performed in vitro showing that CBDA is able to reduce breast cancer growth in MBA-231 cell lines. While this was found to involve COX-2 regulation, researchers also found that CBDA repressed PPAR-beta/delta receptors involved in metabolism and that this was critical in regulating the cancer growth in cells. With the recognition that CBDA can influence critical metabolism enzymes, other researchers have tested its affect on obesity. Pre-clinical trials in vivo are finding that CBDA induces weight loss and lead to fat reduction in a mouse model of obesity.
The effects of CBDA and anxiety are just starting to be assessed in pre-clinical trials to see if it has similar actions as CBD. These early studies in rats show that it can decrease symptoms of anxiety at 10-fold lower concentrations that what was needed from CBD. The mechanism of actions appear to be from CBDA interactions with the 5HT1A receptor, a class of serotonin receptors involved in brain function. These are classic targets of SSRIs (selective serotonin receptor inhibitors), which are used to affect the nervous system in patients with depression.
CBD vs CBDA: how to properly dose
The right dose is different for everyone depending on their size, unique body chemistry, and what benefit they are trying to get out of their hemp oil. Because there are limited clinical studies on CBDA benefits, we have to use the clinical studies from CBD as an approximate baseline.
Many CBD studies testing efficacy for sleep, anxiety, depression, pain, and nausea use what would be considered higher doses. These can range from 50mg up to 600mg per day. Most of the studies that show significant benefit are in the 200mg to 600mg range. In fact, the only FDA approved treatment for CBD is refractory epilepsy, and there children and adults average over 1000mg of CBD per day.
For CBDA we suggest that users start somewhere in the 20mg to 50mg range, and determine what feels best for them. Since this has not been evaluated by the FDA, there is no set amount for daily use.
Since CBDA has around 450% more absorption than CBD, a 50mg dose would be similar to a CBD dose of 250mg. This is also much more cost effective for customers since most CBD products would only have a couple days worth of doses in a bottle.
What are acidic cannabinoids?
CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) is an acidic cannabinoid, a class of compounds found in the hemp plant, with the highest concentration in the flower. Acidic cannabinoids are the natural state of cannabinoids found in hemp, and are derived from the mother cannabinoid CBGA. The raw form of cannabis plants extract contain high amounts of cbda and thca, although thca is often much lower in concentration (2% vs 40%). However, further purification is often needed to remove unwanted plant material to reach a reasonable flavor profile and dose of cbda for tinctures or other edible products.
An acidic cannabinoid is defined by the presence of a certain type of molecular structure termed a carboxylic acid (-COOH). This structure can be lost during purification and extraction of hemp oil, which, for example, converts CBDA to CBD, a process termed “decarboxylation”.
There are over 100 different acidic cannabinoids, such as CBDA, CBGA, and THCA, that are naturally produced in the cannabis plant, and they all can have varying benefits depending on the amount and combination used. These major cannabinoid precursor compounds, typically referred to since they come before decarboxylation, are part of the Natural Spectrum CBDA oil produced by Natural Dos, and would be termed full spectrum by the broader market since they contain all the cannabinoids.
How is CBDA different from CBD?
CBDA is different from CBD in that it has a carboxylic acid that is not found on the CBD molecule. Structurally they are very similar to each other, and in the plant only convert non-enzymatically. See the diagram below for reference:
The hemp plant, and all Cannabis Sativa strains contain many different cannabinoid types, but naturally they are all in the acidic form.
CBDA can break down (decarboxylate) into CBD if left in the heat or exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time. Most manufacturers recommend that you place CBDA products away from sun exposure and at room temperature.
When it comes to product formulation, CBDA has a strong peppery taste that CBD lacks. This is also why a lot of CBDA tinctures are very dilute, with some sellers only using edibles that hide the CBDA taste.
The absorption studies show that CBDA is better than cbd for uptake purposes. However, the effects of cbd and cbda oil may differ in how well they interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. It should be noted that the ability of compounds to provide health benefits like CBD and THC are also dependent on how much gets into the blood. Thus, affinity for a single target should be balanced by the amount taken in by the body.
New purification methods for CBDA
Initial extraction of cannabinoid oil from the hemp flower results in high concentrations of CBDA, CBGA, and CBCA depending on the strain. This can be seen in live rosin extracts which use compression to “squeeze” out the acidic cannabinoids from the flower. However, most extractions, such as ethanol and CO2 based, will have CBDA in their crude extract which gets converted to CBD during purification or solvent remediation.
Crude extracts contain many different organic compounds and remnants from the hemp plant, which means it needs to be further purified before product use. Conventional purification uses short-path distillation, a method involving heating the crude under a vacuum to boil off only the wanted cannabinoids and some terpenes. However, this process decarboxylates the acidic cannabinoids, converting CBDA to CBD or CBGA to CBG.
Only recently has some of the benefits of acidic cannabinoids been discovered, and this has led to renewed interest in finding better ways to isolate cannabinoids without destroying them. Natural Dos uses a water purification technology developed in house over the last couple years which produces a Natural Spectrum CBDA Hemp Oil. This contains all the acidic cannabinoids that a hemp flower has in it, such as CBDA, CBCA, THCA, CBDVA and others.
Full spectrum CBD oil is thought to provide superior benefits to single cannabinoid products (known as isolates). This is referred to as the “entourage effect”, where the combination of multiple cannabinoids have a greater benefits than in isolation. A recent study out of the University of Sydney found that cannabis plant oil had enhanced CBDA absorption when taken in combination with other cannabinoids. This CBDA enhanced absorption was over 14-times higher when taken in combination than as an isolate!
Where to buy high quality CBDA oil?
To find the best CBDA oil, a reputable manufacturer is critical, but it is difficult to determine who to trust. All quality CBDA products should have a certificate of analysis (CoA). Whether the product is listed as raw hemp, raw cannabis, or CBDA oil, the CoA should list 5 basic parameters:
- Potency – how much of the cannabinoids are in the product
- Heavy metals – the cannabis plant can soak up heavy metals from the ground
- Solvents – various solvents are used during the extraction and purification stage
- Pesticides – while pesticides are not legally allowed to be used for hemp cultivation, they can be left over in the soil
- Microbial – whenever a food product is made, its important that any potentially harmful bacteria or fungus is tested for
- Third party certified – did the company send their final product to get tested at a reputable testing facility? A good testing lab will be ISO 17025 certified or have a similar certification from an accreditation agency.
If you are not familiar with how to read a CoA, check out our cannabinoid CoA guide on interpreting the results.
Natural Spectrum CBDA products from Natural Dos all have the full spectrum of acidic cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, providing the highest absorption benefits. All products are 3rd party tested for potency and purity by an ISO 17025 certified laboratory with over a decade in experience (SC Labs).
Is CBDA legal?
Legally, CBDA is regarded in a similar fashion as the cannabinoid CBD. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production of hemp, which is the primary cannabis plant that it comes from. After legislation, CBD products gained prominence as a unique nutraceutical across the country. Only states that have a regulated hemp license and oversight program are allowed to operate hemp farming and processing facilities. Because CBD and CBDA does not intoxicate people, they can be used for nutraceutical purposes in most states. CBD and CBDA products can contain THC or THCA (full spectrum), or can have the THC removed (broad spectrum). However, if they do contain THC, they are legally not allowed to have over 0.3% THC by dry weight.
Because of the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in most parts of the body, hemp derived cannabinoids can have profound effects for many different purposes. While CBD has been well studied for a wide range of ailments, CBDA may be significantly more effective due to its unique absorptive properties and anti-inflammatory actions.
It is important to note that people with preexisting conditions should consult with their physician to determine if there are any potential drug-drug interactions. Some data from epilepsy studies indicate potential liver complications in those patients taking high doses of CBD along with other drugs. CBDA has not been approved by the food and drug administration for treatment, and CBD has only been approved for some epilepsy conditions under the brand name Epidiolex.
Let us know if you have any questions or want to see a specific topic covered on our website.
Is CBDA more effective than CBD?
We know from multiple published studies that CBDA has superior absorption compared to CBD, which is not surprising since CBD has poor absorption. Based on blood concentrations it is reasonable to think that CBDA will have more of an effect on the endocannabinoid system than CBD.
Most likely, more studies are needed to tease out the main differences between CBDA and CBD. However, the absorption differences are substantial, 450-1000% more, and we believe the current studies indicate a much more potent effect For CBDA than CBD.
Why is CBDA better?
Acidic cannabinoids like CBDA are the natural form of all cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. They also have the significant property of being water soluble, and thus have a greatly enhanced bioavailability (absorption into the bloodstream) compared to CBD.
If a compound is not absorbed well enough, it does not provide an effect. CBDA also has secondary effects on inflammatory and serotonin systems outside the endocannabinoid system that CBD does not.
How is CBDA different from CBD?
CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) has a unique carboxyl group, which is a common pattern shared by all acidic cannabinoids found in Cannabis Sativa, of which the hemp plant is from. When hemp flower, or bud, is heated or extracted using heat, the acidic cannabinoids are converted to their neutral form, e.g. CBDA to CBD, losing this carboxyl group in the process.
While all hemp plant cannabinoids are in the acidic form naturally, the reason you only see CBD or THC in the product market is that conventional technology relied on heating methods to produce the oil.
Now that we know there are substantial benefits to CBDA and other acidic cannabinoids, new technologies are being developed to better isolate these potent hemp plant compounds.