CBD Science: The Difference Between CBD and CBDA

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Both CBD and CBDA are cannabinoids, unique compounds formed with cannabis. CBD has always been seen as the most promising of the cannabinoids for potential medical research, and as such, CBDA has fallen to the wayside. However, a trend of raw juicing cannabis has brought CBDA firmly back into the spotlight, leaving many people wondering what the difference between the two is.


Firstly, it is important to understand what both of these cannabinoids are in relation to each other. CBDA is the acidic precursor to CBD. When cannabis grows, its produces THCA and CBDA, not THC and CBD. These cannabinoids in their acidic form are often seen as being ‘inactive’. When cannabis is heated, such as through smoking, cooking, or vaporization, a process known as decarboxylation occurs. Decarboxylation turns both THCA and CBDA into THC and CBD respectively. Both CBDA and CBD are non-psychoactive, meaning they won’t get you high.


Although CBDA is largely seen as inactive, that status may not really do it justice. There is currently only little research into the properties of CBDA, but what has been done has found potentially beneficial properties. For example, it is thought to have both anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative traits, as well as a few other.

CBD on the other hand has had much more in-depth research surrounding it, and as far as the scientific community is concerned, much more promising in terms of potential. CBD too has anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative effects, as well as many more, that have all been studied in greater detail. This is not to say that CBDA does not have potential, but according to research the potential is greater for CBD.

For example, Dr. Sean McAllister, a highly prolific scientist in the field of cannabinoid research, found that THC and CBD appeared to inhibit and kill cancer cells. But also that “compared to CBD, CBDA had negligible effects in cell viability assay against multiple cancers. We therefore never took a great interest in the molecule.”

Fight cancerThis is further backed up by a study that Dr. McAllister points out. The study, “Antitumor Activity of Plant Cannabinoids with Emphasis on the Effect of Cannabidiol on Human Breast Carcinoma,” found that of all the cannabinoids (including THC, CBG, and CBC), CBD was the most potent at fighting breast cancer, whereas CBDA was the least.

This is not to say that the results of this study are gospel, but it demonstrates how little we currently know about CBDA, and that much more research is required.


So to conclude, both CBD and CBDA have very similar properties (one is the precursor to the other), but as things stand, CBD is the molecule of choice - and the research reflects that.