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CBDA vs. CBD: What’s the Difference?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an industry favorite for its therapeutic benefits and versatile nature. However, not much is known about the lesser-known component of the cannabis plant, CBDA.

Read on to find out more about the differences between CBDA and CBD and how you can utilize them for your benefit. 

What is CBDA?

The cannabis plant contains different cannabinoids that interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce various effects that can improve our physical and mental health. Some cannabinoids are better known than others, including CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These both originate from a “precursor” cannabinoid, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA).

CBGA can be converted into major cannabinoid precursor compounds based on the activation of specific plant enzymes (1). One of the precursor compounds, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), can be converted to CBD when decarboxylation occurs with heat and sunlight exposure (2).

While CBDA is not as popular as CBD, you can find it in various products like topical creams, capsules, gummies, and tinctures.

Benefits of CBDA and CBD

The benefits of CBDA and CBD are wide-ranging, and as future research occurs expect the list of therapeutic benefits to increase. Here are some of the more popular health concerns CBDA and CBD can address.

Inflammatory Conditions

CBD is known for its potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits (3). However, CBDA has also proved effective and can even be more potent than CBD for reducing inflammation. As mentioned earlier, cannabinoids can interact with the ECS. The ECS is responsible for regulating and balancing many body processes, including our immune response (4).

CBDA and CBD can lower inflammation levels in several ways, including programming cell death of unwanted cells, slowing down or stopping the growth of unwanted cells, and suppressing the production of cytokines (5).

Because of this, cannabinoids like CBDA and CBD can be used alongside traditional medication for a range of inflammatory conditions, like chronic pain and arthritis. 

Nausea and Appetite 

One of the side effects of CBD is a noticeable change in appetite. Likewise, CBDA has also shown promise in relieving nausea and even vomiting. The body has 5-HT serotonin-producing receptors, which have a role in controlling vomiting and nausea. These receptors can be affected by CBDA, alleviating the feeling of nausea (6).

While more research is needed to investigate this relationship further, studies hint at the potential use of CBDA as a medication for patients undergoing chemotherapy and other health conditions that induce the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. 

Depression and Anxiety

CBD is popular for its role in reducing anxiety. Serotonin is a wide-ranging chemical produced by our body. Besides its role in nausea prevention, serotonin provides vital roles to essential human functionalities like sleeping, digestion, and mood (7). While both CBDA and CBD can bind to the 5-HT serotonin-producing receptors, CBDA has approximately 100 times the affinity for the receptors than CBD due to having a greater bioavailability (8). This strong affinity for the receptor shows promise for CBDA’s role in depression and anxiety. 

Traditional antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication are potent and can come with many side effects, which often wreak havoc on our health and well-being. Because CBDA affects the 5-HT receptors similarly to traditional serotonin reuptake antidepressants, there is potential in utilizing cannabinoids like CBDA to ease many of the symptoms of these mental health conditions. 

Dosage and Uses

Every person is different. Therefore, the proper dosage for you will be different than someone else’s. If you want to test how CBDA and CBD will interact with your body, start with small doses and work your way up to a comfortable amount. You can even alter what time of day you take CBD to see what works best for you. It is also good to check in with a health professional during this process.

CBDA is only found in the raw cannabis state. Heating the plant by baking or smoking can trigger the reaction from CBDA and CBD, so users must be careful if they’re trying to isolate the specific properties of CBDA. A great way to use CBDA is topically, where it can be infused with creams and balms. If you prefer to ingest CBDA, the cannabis leaves can be steamed lightly or used in dressings, smoothies, or salads.

CBD is found in many products and is often taken sublingually (under the tongue) for fast absorption and easy consumption (9). CBD is often taken in a CBD oil form, which is isolated CBD and mixed with a type of carrier oil like MCT or coconut, or in a tincture form. Users can easily regulate the drops and monitor their dosage well.

Side Effects

Cannabinoids are generally well-tolerated amongst most of the population, but they do come with side effects, especially in the initial stages of taking the product. Because CBDA has a similar molecular structure to CBD, users may experience related side effects (10) after regular consumption. These include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite

However, few clinical trials have been done on CBDA, and more in-depth studies must be carried out before researchers can make any conclusive claims. Check-in with your doctor if you are interested in taking CBDA or CBD.

The Bottom Line 

While research on CBDA is still in its early stages, the potential for the therapeutic use of this compound is promising. Knowing the different benefits, uses, and side effects of CBDA with other cannabinoids like CBD is crucial.


**Standard Disclaimer: CBD is not FDA-approved. We make no such claims that using our products will guarantee relief. Moreover, research regarding CBD is still ongoing and in the early stages.**

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