CBDa vs CBD – What’s the difference?

By December 9, 2020 No Comments
EducationHemp Plant
A hemp leaf sticking out of a bottle of Danodan CBD on a wooden fence at sunset.

It’s a recurring theme that we continue to learn more about the various cannabinoids found in hemp. As soon as one is discovered, researchers work to uncover its potential to support human health. First, it was CBD, and now CBDa is gaining some notoriety. What is the difference between CBDa vs CBD? Let’s find out.

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A is for ‘Acid’

The ‘a’ on CBDa means that the molecule is in the acid form and is called cannabidiolic acid. This means the molecule has an extra part, known as a carboxyl group.

When cannabinoids like CBD and THC are in living and dried hemp flowers, they exist in the acid form. This form is less stable and not as easily utilized in our bodies in the same way as CBD.

However, new research is showing that CBDa may work in other ways. A 2016 research review shows promise for CBDa in therapeutic settings. CBDa was found to be very effective at reducing nausea and vomiting. This is because it binds very well with a serotonin receptor – 5-HT1A – that influences these conditions.

This research is exciting, especially for those experiencing intense nausea during chemotherapy treatment. This severe nausea can be so conditioned that patients become nauseous by simply entering the hospital, which is known as anticipatory nausea. In early studies, CBDa appears to be a potential therapy for anticipatory nausea, and more research is underway.

How does CBDa become CBD?

The difference between CBDa vs CBD occurs through a process called decarboxylation. This means removing the carboxyl group mentioned above, which turns CBDa into CBD. This is commonly referred to as decarbing.

By decarbing CBDa into CBD, it is more able to support our endocannabinoid system. This is how CBD helps our physiological processes that support health and balance throughout our entire body.

At Danodan, we decarb by gently heating our hemp flower and glycerin infusion for an extended period of time. This is accomplished at just the right temperature. Our method is by far the gentlest for decarbing CBD, which leaves many other plant compounds intact as well.

There are other methods for decarbing CBD. These include using high heat (burning), roasting hemp flowers in an oven, or even boiling them in water. These methods take less time. However, they can also negatively affect the other plant compounds that work in concert with CBD.

Different uses for different molecules

We continue to learn more about CBD, CBDa, and how they can support our well-being. Given insights like these, it is exciting to imagine what scientific breakthroughs are around the corner.

CBD has many broad health-supporting uses, especially when it is gently processed like in our hemp flower infusions. On the other hand, CBDa may have more targeted uses. So when you’re thinking about CBDa vs CBD benefits, know that CBDa may have a more specific use while CBD is better for supporting whole-body health.


Rock EM, Sticht MA, Limebeer CL, Parker LA. Cannabinoid Regulation of Acute and Anticipatory Nausea. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2016;1(1):113-121. Published 2016 Apr 1. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0006

Want to learn more about other hemp-based cannabinoids? Check out this recent post discussing What is CBG?