CBDA vs CBD: What Is CBDA?

Are you a CBD advocate but now want to know exactly what is CBDA and what are the differences between CBDA and CBD? We can clear that up for you. 

The cannabidiol market is wide ranging, with legal CBD available to buy in many forms and a recent forecast from BDSA predicting a $19.5bn industry valuation by 2025.

It’s also an evolving market, with plenty of research ongoing to explore the potential benefits and new uses of CBD in greater detail. We recently wrote about a scientific study hypothesising that CBD could potentially help prevent COVID-19 infections.

Researchers are also studying CBDA. So, what is CBDA exactly and, when it comes to CBDA vs CBD, which one is right for you? First, here’s a quick CBD summary.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol is one of the 113 cannabinoids which have been identified in the Cannabis sativa plant since the 1930s.

It’s not psychoactive, so it doesn’t produce a ‘high’ and CBD is legal in the UK since the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 does not classify it as a controlled substance.

A different cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), creates the psychotropic effects of cannabis. Therefore, THC is a controlled substance, so CBD products cannot legally have more than 1 mg of THC per pack.

The most popular cannabidiol product is CBD oil, according to YouGov. CBD can potentially alleviate symptoms from several health conditions, such as anxiety.

What is CBDA?

CBDA is cannabidiolic acid, another cannabinoid. It’s often described as raw CBD or a chemical precursor to cannabidiol.

The CBD compound is created from CBDA via a process called decarboxylation. Technically, this means it loses a carbon atom.

Taking another step back, there’s another cannabinoid called CBGA or cannabigerolic acid. CBGA breaks down into several types of cannabinoid acid. 

These are:

  • CBDA
  • THCA, which THC comes from
  • CBCA, which another cannabinoid (CBC) comes from
  • CBG, another cannabinoid

What is CBDA found in?

Here are some examples of products containing CBDA:

  • Water soluble CBDA powder, which is organic, kosher and mixes with beverages and other powders (as opposed to CBD oil, which does not dissolve in water)
  • A pure, CBD broad-spectrum distillate will contain the more minor cannabinoids such as CBDA, CBC and CBG – but, crucially, not THC
  • As a result, CBD oils and edibles created from a pure broad-spectrum distillate will also include some CBDA

Other than that, trustworthy providers with global procurement capabilities should have access to the CBDA cannabinoid as a raw material too. 


Given that CBDA is essentially the parent compound of CBD – or, as some would say, an even more natural version of it – the two cannabinoids have plenty in common.

Neither are psychoactive like THC, so users cannot get high from absorbing them. They are both believed to interact with serotonin receptors – which affect anxiety and nausea – to potentially produce positive effects.

Ultimately, it will take much more research until we know for sure what the true, possible benefits of taking CBDA vs CBD are. Most CBDA studies so far have been preclinical and non-human.

However, what we know so far is that CBDA certainly has the potential to have stronger effects than CBD. 

The bioavailability of CBDA vs CBD is higher. Bioavailability means the efficacy of something – in this case, CBDA – being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Therefore CBDA could be metabolised faster and more easily. 

Potential CBDA benefits

Early research reveals some interesting potential CBDA benefits. Here’s a brief summary of the indicative results from some notable studies:

As mentioned though, more concrete research is needed to address the shortcomings in worldwide knowledge so far about any potential advantages from taking CBDA vs CBD.

The endocannabinoid system

What we also know is that cannabinoids, including CBD and CBDA, interact with something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body.

Only discovered in the late 1980s, the ECS helps to balance various processes such as digestion, appetite, sleep and even mood.

Different cannabinoids interact with the ECS in separate ways. One way CBD engages with it is by preventing certain natural endocannabinoids from breaking down, thus having a greater impact on the body.

We know that CBDA interacts with the ECS in a different way. One theory is that it inhibits certain natural enzymes associated with inflammation arising from injury or infection.

CBDA vs CBD – more research needed

What’s the real difference when it comes to comparing the potential benefits or effects of CBDA vs CBD? In short, it’s too early to tell, with CBDA research still at an early stage overall. 

Most research has tended to prioritise exploring the possible benefits of CBD, which explains why there are now so many products for sale and why the market is growing so rapidly. Read our blog to find out 10 potential CBD business opportunities you might want to consider.

CBDA can also be more challenging to research because it’s an unstable compound. It slowly decarboxylates at room temperature, transforming into CBD.

However, until conclusive research results are available and widely accepted, it’s still too early to confirm clear uses or potential advantages of taking CBDA. This is why, at the time of writing, the cannabidiol market is booming primarily thanks to CBD products.

Summary: CBDA vs CBD – what is CBDA?

CBDA and CBD are both cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant – neither are controlled substances, so they’re legal to use.

What is CBDA exactly? It’s the raw or acidic version of CBD, commonly broken down so that the new cannabidiol compound can be used in products.

CBDA is possibly stronger or even more effective than CBD, but more research is required to determine whether it has similar or different potential benefits.

For further information about CBD products, have a look at our blog or please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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