CBD vs CBDa What is the Difference?

Easy Chemistry to make you look smart!

          CBD, or cannabidiol [can-ah-bid-eye-all], and CBDa, or cannabidiolic [can-nah-bid-dee-all-ic] acid are very closely related chemically.  One of their main features is a six-sided structure called a benzene ring which has a carbon atom at each corner. 

Benzene is so common in organic chemistry that we don’t even show the “C” for carbon where they join or the individual hydrogens surrounding them—we just show the “other” atoms or molecules like Hydroxide (OH) and Oxyhydride (HO), because all chemists know the shape of benzene.  See if you can spot the benzene ring in the CBDa and CBD molecules below.

How does CBDa become CBD?

          When we add heat to CBDa, one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms break off and form the gas CO2, or carbon dioxide, leaving a single hydrogen atom in their places.  This is called decarboxylation, and creates the stable CBD molecule that is so remarkably useful.  As it turns out, CBDa is even more useful but it is hard to use because it decomposes to stable CBD so easily.

          There are (at least) 133 different cannabinoids found in the hemp and cannabis plants.  Nearly all of them derive directly from the chief precursor, Cannabigerolic acid (CBG–A).  Despite there being so many, only a very few have been studied extensively.  It goes without saying that tetrahydrocannabinol [tet-rah-hy-dro-can-ah-bin-ol], or THC, tops the list.

What you need to know

          Alone, THC can cause deep psychosis, which was discovered accidentally by artisanal growers seeking to eliminate all cannabinoids except THC in order to maximize “the high”.  Soon it was discovered that this “Skunk Weed” (e.g. no CBD) caused unpleasant experiences, such as paranoia and memory loss.  It needed some CBD, to ease the bad effects and provide a more pleasant experience.

          CBD is neuro-protective, meaning that it moderates the effects of THC.  It prevents memory loss, paranoia, schizophrenic episodes, and psychopathy in the form of psychosis.  CBD can work alone, but THC should not; CBD does work better in the presence of THC.  This science behind this can be quite complex, so let’s keep it simple…

What Are Cannabinoids?

          Though some of you might be quite familiar with the term cannabinoids, let’s make sure we’re all starting from the same place so no one gets left behind.  We can start with where they acquired the name…

          Cannabinoids were first discovered in the cannabis plant and, as a new chemical, took part of their name from the plant where they were found.  They are present in many plants, including familiar ones such as Echinacea (aka Coneflower), Electric Daisy, Liverwort, Strawflower, Tea Shrub, Hemp, and of course, Cannabis, along with numerous others.  All of these plants have been an intimate part of herbal medicine for centuries.

How did we discover them?

Long before we had reliable, modern, compounded medicines (beginning with Aspirin in 1890), where we (at least partially) understood their chemistries, and therefore knew what the effect of taking them would be, cannabinoids were regularly employed; people knew from anecdotal and empirical experience that specific effects were repeatable.  It may have been “folklore”, but it also happened to be true.

In fact it is precisely the same as the origin of Aspirin itself.  Back in the 5th century B.C.E., there was a pain reliever which was obtained by chewing Willow Bark.  This released salicylates which (quite effectively) treated fever, pain, inflammation, and swelling.  It was upsetting to the stomach, but the pain-relief benefits were worth the trade-off. 

Willow bark was prescribed by Hippocrates as a tea for pain relief during childbirth in 400 B.C.E.  Luckily, the BAYER Company™ eventually figured out how to buffer the salicylates, making them far less harsh, by joining it with an acetyl-group, making the now famous acetyl-salicylic acid, or ASA.

What do cannabinoids do?

          All chemicals exist for a reason.  It takes energy to make them.  No biological system would expend energy to manufacture something unless it had a purpose.  Some are made for direct use; others are made as an intermediary step, on the way to making something else the plant or animal needs.  Cannabinoids are parts of both of those.

          For example, THC has a cannabinoid precursor called THCa, where the “a’ stands for acid.  CBD has the same thing, with a precursor called CBDa.  Indeed, this is true for Cannabichromene acid (CBCa), Cannabigerol acid (CBGa), and Cannabinol acid (CBNa) and more than 100 others.  Previously, investigators thought that all of the “acids” were simply “precursors”, but it looks as if they were wrong—the acids have their own set of functions…

Foreign Chemicals

          “I don’t put unnatural chemicals in my body” say some people rather emphatically.  Well, truth be told, cannabinoids are neither foreign nor unnatural.  The second place cannabinoids were ever discovered was inside of us

Animals, like we humans, make cannabinoids in our bodies because they are part of an extremely important signaling system.  Subsequently they have been found in every complex life form, right down to reptiles and invertebrates.

          CBD, or cannabidiol, for example, has a mimetic (“performs the same function”) counterpart in our bodies called 2‑arachidonoylglycerol [2-ar-ac-a-don-al-gli-sir-ol], or 2-AG.  CBD can be used as a direct substitute when the body does not produce enough 2-AG on its own.  CBD and 2-AG are involved in regulating appetite, pain management, and immune functions, among others.

          To differentiate between them, those that are made in plants are called phytocannabinoids, and those created in animals are called endocannabinoids.  Other than their source, they are essentially the same chemicals, so they are most certainly not “foreign”…

The Difference Between CBD and CBDa

          CBD has been studied quite extensively since Charlotte Figi tugged at our heartstrings by recovering from a hundred epileptic seizures per day due to her affliction with Dravet’s Syndrome.  Her events went from hundreds to none—almost instantly—because her parents illegally obtained some CBD to treat her.

          It seemed every biochemist in the world suddenly wanted to study CBD and THC to see what else could be treated with them.  Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) got lost in the shuffle because it was presumed that it was “just a precursor”.  We should never let our assumptions stop us from investigating.

          Consider a hydroelectric dam.  Without the river it wouldn’t work.  Rain doesn’t turn the turbines, so is rain therefore unimportant?  Of course not…since without rain there would not be a river.  But rain does more; it washes things to the river so they can re-enter the ecosystem; it gets the accumulated dirt off our streets, houses, and cars; it allows plants to grow…  It may be a “precursor” to hydroelectric power, but it does other important things, too.


CBD interacts with our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) by interacting with the cannabinoid receptor sites.  There are two, named CB1 and CB2, that are well-established.  CB1 is found primarily in the brain, whereas CB2 is located throughout the nervous system.  THC strongly prefers CB1, which accounts for the concentration in the brain, and the psychoactive or psychogenic effects, but CBD uses both sites equally well.

          We’ve already said that CBD is neuro-protective, even in the case of brain injury, and that when used in conjunction with THC, it prevents THC’s worst effects, including memory loss, paranoia, schizophrenia, and psychosis. 

CBD alone is effective for epilepsy, and considerably reduces multiple sclerosis tremors, but also helps to treat anxiety, depression, PTSD, and has anti-inflammatory properties.  A lesser-known effect is that CBD helps patients resist creating the chemical compound which causes inflammation.

CBD has also been seen to cause cell-death in cancerous tissues (only in Petri dishes in the lab, so far) without affecting adjacent healthy tissue.  The idea of oncological toxicity has been put forward as an explanation for why marijuana smokers have an unexpectedly low incidence of lung cancer.


          Cannabidiolic acid is different.  Instead of interacting with the receptor sites, one of its effects is to inhibit the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme.  This enzyme is responsible for causing inflammation at an injury site as it recruits body resources to fight a problem.  The results are often mixed.

The Good

COX-2 is responsible for causing vitally important fevers.  These kill off invaders that cannot survive at temperatures higher than our normal body temperature.  Fevers make us feel bad, but it is a very clever defensive measure that our bodies have evolved.

Our bodies can tolerate a fever of 105º F (41º C), without brain damage, and that can kill a whole host of invaders.  Once we hit 107.5º F (42º C) that is when we hurt ourselves.  CBDa tells the body to reduce its fever-creating activities.

In addition, in the case of the highly migratory MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer, CBDa has stopped the cancer’s proliferation (again, in early studies, in Petri dishes in the lab).  MDA-MB-231 is an aggressive, deadly form, whose movement has been completely arrested in these early studies.  This is certainly worthy of additional investigation.

The Bad

          Pain would have been a good invention, if it had been limited to brief episodes to teach us things like: Don’t touch that—it’s hot or Knees don’t bend in that direction, but unfortunately, nature didn’t stop there.  Once it was turned on, as long as there was still stimulus of any kind, pain persisted. 

The Ugly

          Unfortunately, diseases where the body mistakes parts of itself for an invader result in these same effects, as in the case of arthritis, or any other autoimmune disease, or it can also occur during sports injuries.  A joint can become inflamed, pyretic, and constantly painful, even when you are not doing further damage.  In this case, pain is a hindrance, not helpful.

The Solution

CBDa behaves like a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug, or NSAID, such as aspirin, reducing fevers, inflammation, and swelling by limiting the activity of COX–2.  CBDa provides an effective “off switch” for pain.  This is especially useful when we have drugs that combat a problem; we can tell the body that the fever and pain, which makes us feel worse, are no longer required.

And, of course, aspirin is gastrotoxic.  This was noted as far back as November 2000, in a report by Yoon Kong Loke, MBBS, and Sheena Derry, MBBS, from Oxford University.  No matter how little aspirin you take, even the tiny 75 mg dose for heart attack and stroke patients, the risk for gastrointestinal bleeding stays the same.  Even the so-called “safe” enteric-coated aspirin has the same risk factors.  While taking aspirin isn’t without risks, its benefits still far outweigh its drawbacks.  

What Can CBDa Do?

CBDa, on the other hand, is not gastrotoxic.  Using it as a pain-reliever, antipyretic, and anti-inflammatory completely eliminates that problem, but research shows it can do much more.

          Antiemetic drugs help to prevent nausea and vomiting, such as Bonine™ and Dramamine™, which are basically antihistamines.  They work, but they also impair your mental function, making you sluggish and sleepy.  CBDa uses a different mechanism to prevent nausea which is particularly useful for instances where it is caused by chemotherapy or radiation regimens.

Serotonin Inhibitor

          Those treatments increase the activity of the body’s 5-HT serotonin-producing receptors, causing a flood of serotonin, which is responsible for controlling our eating, digestion, and sleeping.  Serotonin also alters our ability to move our limbs in a coordinated fashion (motor skills), as well as our emotional state. 

These excessive amounts trigger not only nausea, but vomiting as well.  This is one of the primary reasons that 20% of oncology patients consider ending their treatment.  Throwing up is something most of us can deal with in rare instances, but constant, unrelenting nausea is crippling. 

CBDa, however, can directly interfere with the 5-HT receptors, limiting the serotonin production—result: little or no nausea and vomiting—and suddenly patients can function again.


          CBD is effective at preventing seizures, but research by Britain’s pharmaceutical company, GW Pharmaceuticals, has demonstrated that CBDa is a much more effective treatment.  CBDa has one hundred times greater affinity for 5‑HT receptors as ordinary CBD.  People could economize, using much smaller doses of CBDa than ordinary CBD.


          Many antidepressants rely on manipulating serotonin, too, such as sertraline (Zoloft), Fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and others.  CBDa is therefore a good candidate for a treatment for depression and related conditions.

Trouble in Paradise

          However, as mentioned, the difficulty with CBDa is that it decomposes quite readily.  When exposed to heat (such as when marijuana is smoked), it decarboxylates, which means it becomes ordinary CBD.  Even exposure to ordinary sunlight is sufficient to break in to down into ordinary CBD.  

Typically, this is a good thing, since we understand how useful CBD can be.  Now that we know that CBDa is a more effective form, we need to keep it in its unaltered, virgin state, so that it remains bioavailable when it is delivered to consumers.

          This is where patented 10xPURE-GOLD Super 1000 becomes the focus of the discussion…  CTFO has tested, formulated, and launched its new carrier solution, a highly oxidized oil base that protects the CBDa from decarboxylation.  This is utterly unique in our industry—so much so that this product is patented—no one else can provide you with this much CBDa.

          Products claiming to have CBDa may have some, but it is a trivial fraction compared to 10xPURE-GOLD.  Avoid inferior products with next to no real CBDa!

          10xPURE can deliver CBDa in a stable form so that it arrives with a full 6 mg of CBDa in each serving.  This form, as oral, sublingual drops, is highly effective for all of the things we’ve discussed.

          For extremely localized results, where you want to direct the treatment to a specific area, 10xPURE-GOLD Roll-On, for muscle & joint relief, could be your ideal solution.

          Supplied with 500 mgs of CBD and with 420 mgs of bioavailable CBDa—in a form that will remain stable—you can apply it directly to the affected area to gain maximal effect as it penetrates your skin and diffuses right to where it is needed.

The Takeaway

          Either or both of these products can be your fast, effective, and powerful replacement for less effective treatments that you may be using currently.  You really owe it to yourself to try these benign and yet powerful natural products that have few, if any, side effects compared to other more conventional options.

          Even if you are currently using CBD, you now know that you can do much better with CBDa as an effective boost to using CBD alone.  Don’t short-change yourself.  Click here to visit our store right now and see all the amazing products we have to enhance your personal health!  It will be the best decision that you have made today!

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