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What is CBDA (versus CBD)?

What is CBDA (versus CBD)?

Basic Jane |

Recent publicity about the acid forms of cannabinoids has brought many questions to our attention. Most of the publicity has been around a recent study from OSU showing the ability of CBDA and CBGA to block the entry of COVID into cells in tissue culture.

Frequently asked questions include:

  • What are the acid forms of cannabinoids?
  • Why haven’t you heard of them before?
  • And how do you use them?

What are the acid forms of cannabinoids?

The cannabis plant makes a variety of cannabinoids. In fact, over 100 have been found in the plant. At Basic Jane, we use CBD in the majority of our products. It is an amazing molecule that is widely studied and used by many. Studies have been performed on CBD in the context of pain, anxiety, seizures and many other common ailments.

CBDA is the precursor of CBD. Warning this is the boring chemistry part… what many people don’t realize is that cannabis normally makes acid forms of cannabinoids.

Below is a figure showing the CBD synthesis pathway. The plant itself does not make CBD; the plant makes CBDA. We harvest plants with CBDA and use heat to convert CBDA into CBD outside of the plant.

CBDA has an extra carboxyl group hanging on it. This carboxyl group is not stable meaning things like light or heat can easily knock it off. This is called is decarboxylation. You can think of this analogous to a baker making a cookie covered with sprinkles. The sprinkles easily fall off. Like sprinkles falling off the cookie with a small shake, the carboxyl group tends to fall off the CBDA with heat or light turning the CBDA made by the plant into CBD.

CBD Synthesis Pathway

CBD Synthesis Pathway Chart

When Basic Jane manufactures CBD products we begin with fresh hemp plants, heat the flowers (knocking off the carboxyl group) and extract out the CBD. Very few products have been made historically with the acid forms of cannabinoids.

There is a history around decarboxylation beyond CBDA/CBD. The exact same process is done for the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, THC. Marijuana plants manufacture THCA which it turns out is not impairing or psychoactive. However, THC is impairing.

Therefore, throughout history people have burnt or cooked marijuana to convert THCA (a non-impairing compound) into THC (an impairing compound). This is why most marijuana products are either burnt or cooked (i.e., marijuana brownies). Heating cannabis flowers (either hemp or marijuana) has been done for centuries.


Why haven’t you heard of acid cannabinoids before?

Most research historically has been done on CBD. Research on CBDA (or other acid forms of cannabinoids) have been overshadowed by the amazing research done on CBD. However, the OSU research around CBDA/CBGA and THCA potentially preventing COVID has made the acid molecules more popular.

Like all our products we commit to providing you with a quality CBDA product. What this means is we will be doing our extraction a little different and you will notice our directions will ask that you to store CBDA products in cool dark places. Our packaging will help you accomplish this being in dark sealed packaging (versus our glass CBD mint bottles). The less light and heat a CBDA product receives, the longer your CBDA will stay in the CBDA form versus converting to CBD (having its sprinkles knocked off it).

The acid forms have to a large degree been the forgotten cannabinoids. They have been a hidden treasure researched for rare-products to help in areas such as seizure control, neuroprotection and for certain types of cancer.

And how do you use the acid forms of cannabinoids?

Since the acid forms are not stable with heat, the best way to consume CBDA is generally by eating it in products that don’t undergo heating to produce. You have to be careful that the products you are eating have not been heated. For example, baked goods or hard candies may be bad choices since heat during their production will convert the CBDA to CBD. The workflow of manufacturing needs to be considered.

For this reason, Basic Jane has pressed CBDA into mints which do not undergo heating reactions.

Basic Jane CBD Mints Shop Now

Check our our blog post "How to Use CBD" to learn more about all of our products and how to use them.