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CBD Vs CBDA: The Differences Between The Two Cannabinoids



As more cannabis research continues to develop, our understanding of various cannabinoid compounds grows as well. Two of the most common, CBD and CBDA, while closely related, have slight differences that make them distinguishable from each other. CBDA is actually how CBD usually exists in nature, and after it’s heated (and reaches 110 degrees Celsius for decarboxylation), it becomes CBD.[1] But what difference does that subtle application of heat bring to the two cannabinoids? And how does the body respond to the differences between these two compounds?

CBD VS CBDA – Different Physical Reactions

One of the primary differences between CBD and its precursor is how the body processes the two. As a cannabinoid, CBD partially bonds to cannabinoid receptors (primarily CB2 receptors) that are part of the endocannabinoid system.[2] CBDA, on the other hand, does bind with the endocannabinoid system, but it serves primarily as a COX-2 inhibitor.[3] Other examples of COX-2 inhibitors are products like over-the-counter pain relievers such as Advil or Tylenol. This means that CBDA may actually work better as a general pain reliever than CBD because of how it functions within the body. This is not the only side effect that, while similar, may have massive differences in effect between the two cannabinoids.

More Effects of CBD and CBDA

In addition to CBDA serving as a better pain reliever than CBD, at least at some instances, there are a few other differences. Both have anti-inflammatory qualities, and they both have a lot of overlap in their utilities, but one particular category demonstrates how CBDA may actually surpass CBD.[4] One study found that CBDA may be 1000 times more potent than CBD when treating nausea in rats.[5] Data is still limited on CBDA when comparing it to CBD, but there is strong evidence that CBD is useful in treating epilepsy, and it also may help with cancer and sleep disorders among many other conditions.[6][7][8] The question of how one stacks up against the other remains to be seen, though, and it may come down to consumer sentiment.

How to Take CBDA

The biggest advantage that CBD has over CBDA is that, by comparison, the market of available products is flooded. CBDA is less common unless it exists in the form of raw cannabis or hemp plant material. Slowly, this is starting to change. Several products are now advertising themselves as containing CBDA, including oils, tinctures, and lotions. As more data emerges as to the benefits of CBDA when compared to CBD, it is likely that this trend will continue, allowing customers to decide which products are right for their specific medical issues.

Reference List

  1. Wang M, Wang YH, Avula B, Radwan MM, Wanas AS, van Antwerp J, Parcher JF, ElSohly MA, Khan IA. Decarboxylation Study of Acidic Cannabinoids: A Novel Approach Using Ultra-High-Performance Supercritical Fluid Chromatography/Photodiode Array-Mass Spectrometry. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2016 Dec 1;1(1):262-271. doi: 10.1089/can.2016.0020. PMID: 28861498; PMCID: PMC5549281.

  2. Martínez-Pinilla, E., Varani, K., Reyes-Resina, I., Angelats, E., Vincenzi, F., Ferreiro-Vera, C., Oyarzabal, J., Canela, E. I., Lanciego, J. L., Nadal, X., Navarro, G., Borea, P. A., & Franco, R. (2017). Binding and Signaling Studies Disclose a Potential Allosteric Site for Cannabidiol in Cannabinoid CB2 Receptors. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2017.00744

  3. Martínez-Pinilla, E., Varani, K., Reyes-Resina, I., Angelats, E., Vincenzi, F., Ferreiro-Vera, C., Oyarzabal, J., Canela, E. I., Lanciego, J. L., Nadal, X., Navarro, G., Borea, P. A., & Franco, R. (2017b). Binding and Signaling Studies Disclose a Potential Allosteric Site for Cannabidiol in Cannabinoid CB2 Receptors. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2017.00744

  4. Henshaw FR, Dewsbury LS, Lim CK, Steiner GZ. The Effects of Cannabinoids on Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Cytokines: A Systematic Review of In Vivo Studies. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2021 Jun;6(3):177-195. doi: 10.1089/can.2020.0105. Epub 2021 Apr 28. PMID: 33998900; PMCID: PMC8266561.

  5. Rock, Erin M., et al. “Evaluation of repeated or acute treatment with cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) or CBDA methyl ester (HU-580) on nausea and/or vomiting in rats and shrews.” Psychopharmacology 237.9 (2020): 2621-2631.

  6. Goerl, B., Watkins, S., Metcalf, C., Smith, M., & Beenhakker, M. (2021). Cannabidiolic acid exhibits entourage-like improvements of anticonvulsant activity in an acute rat model of seizures. Epilepsy Research, 169, 106525. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2020.106525

  7. Takeda, Shuso, et al. “Cannabidiolic acid, a major cannabinoid in fiber-type cannabis, is an inhibitor of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell migration.” Toxicology letters 214.3 (2012): 314-319.

  8. Murillo-Rodríguez, E., Arankowsky-Sandoval, G., Pertwee, R. G., Parker, L., & Mechoulam, R. (2020). Sleep and neurochemical modulation by cannabidiolic acid methyl ester in rats. Brain Research Bulletin, 155, 166–173. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainresbull.2019.12.006



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