Written by Jen Keehn
Updated January 28, 2021
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sandra El-Hajj
CBD has invaded the world, especially after being legalized. Science and the medical field started digging deeper and researching about this new wonder chemical extracted from the cannabis plant. Despite all these efforts and while a lot has veen discovered, there are still a lot of unknowns and gaps yet to be discovered.
CBD was even mistaken for the THC component of the cannabis that is well-known to make people high and addicted. But, one new factor that everyone should start learning about is the decarboxylation.
Decarboxylation is a major step in the production of several active components of the cannabis like the CBD, THC and the CBG. So, decarboxylation is necessary for the production of medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, and CBD products.
If you use any of the active ingredients of cannabis, it is essential to learn about decarboxylation.
Table of Contents
- What is Decarboxylation?
- The Benefits of Decarboxylated CBD
- How is CBD Decarboxylated?
- Final Thoughts
- Related cbd posts
What is Decarboxylation?
Phytocannabinoids are naturally occurring cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. It is important to note that both terms refer to the same element. They are produced by the small glands of the plant, are insoluble in water but dissolved in oil and alcohol. Out of the 480 chemicals found in the cannabis, there are 85 that are cannabinoids1.
Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are not found in high amounts in the plant. They are formed through a process called decarboxylation using their corresponding acids that are predominant in the plants2.
Decarboxylation is a process that removes a carboxyl group from a molecule. When it comes to the CBD, the carbon is removed from the carbon chain releasing carbon dioxide.
With cannabis, the process of decarboxylation converts inactive compounds into active ones that essentially unlocks their therapeutic effects.
Decarboxylation converts acidic cannabinoids present in cannabis into non-acidic cannabinoids. But, the process does not convert all acidic cannabinoids.
That’s why you will almost always see a level of acidic cannabinoids (i.e. CBDA or THCA) present on any cannabis product lab report.
Before undergoing decarboxylation, the phytocannabinoids are found in an acidic state, known as cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).
In order to convert CBDA into CBD or THCA into THC, the process of decarboxylation must take place, which would require both heat and time. That’s why people smoke marijuana and don’t just eat it raw. When you smoke it, you are providing heat, which will activate the THC present in marijuana.
Smoking and vaporizing cannabis heat up the compounds present in the plant immediately and offer the desired effects.
CBD is no different. In order to harness the therapeutic benefits of CBD, it must be activated, which means that it would need to get decarboxylated before its consumed.
There are, however, benefits of non-decarboxylated CBD and other cannabinoids in their raw, non-decarboxylated state as well.
The Benefits of Decarboxylated CBD
Almost all CBD products you’ll find have gone through the decarboxylation process.
Why? That’s simple. When you decarboxylate CBD, you activate it. This will help release the therapeutic benefits of CBD and let the consumer experience them.
In other words, decarboxylation of CBD is necessary to get the most out of the beneficial cannabinoid. But, there are still some benefits to non-decarboxylated CBD and other cannabinoids.
While CBD has been studied much more widely than CBDA, there are some brands that offer both “raw” (or non-decarboxylated) CBD and “regular” CBD (decarboxylated).
Both Bluebird Botanicals and Endoca, two of our favorite CBD brands, offer products containing raw non-decarboxylated CBD (CBDA).
Comparing both elements can be a little difficult as the decarboxylated form is more backed up by research than the other form. But, the few studies on CBDA do show health benefits as well.
Just like CBD, CBDA is non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you high and is not addictive.
Studies indicate that CBDA has beneficial therapeutic effects when taken by itself or with other cannabinoids. Some of these benefits include:
- Prevents nausea and vomiting: When compared to CBD, the acid form of this chemical was found to have a more potent effect at inhibiting vomiting and nausea2.
- Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects: A study published by the Journal of Psychopharmacology explained how a lower dose of CBDA is required to have the same effect of CBD on anxiety3.
- Antibacterial properties4.
- Inhibits breast cancer cell migration5.
- Potential to reduce seizures associated with epilepsy6.
- Pain and inflammation reduction7.
As you can see, CBDA does have some benefits of its own. One of the best ways to harness the benefits of these raw cannabinoids is through juicing.
Most people don’t have access to CBD rich cannabis flowers. This is the reason behind why more companies have started to offer “raw” non-decarboxylated CBD oil.
Seeing that both non-decarboxylated CBD and decarboxylated CBD both contain therapeutic benefits, a product that blends both has the potential to offer increased benefit.
This is why some companies now offer products that contain both CBD and CBDA in a 1:1 ratio.
Check out BlueBird Botancials and Endoca CBD to find products, where you can find both CBD and CBDA.
How is CBD Decarboxylated?
When it comes to decarboxylation, temperature is everything.
Remember that heat is what causes the decarboxylation process to take place, and while a lower temperature may take longer, it’s actually something that’s preferred.
Why? Decarboxylating CBD (and THC) at lower temperatures allows the preservation of terpenes that are responsible for the aroma and flavor of cannabis. Terpenes also possess therapeutic benefits of their own. They work together with CBD and other cannabinoids to boost their overall effects.
If you think that CBD needs to be decarboxylated, you would want to try decarboxylating cannabis on your own?
Decarboxylation is not a complicated process. All you need is some dried cannabis flower and an oven. Check out the following steps to decarboxylate cannabis at home.
- Preheat oven to 200-300 degrees Fahrenheit
- Break up dried cannabis flowers (buds) until they are in small pieces and place on a baking sheet in a single layer.
- Place cookie sheet in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, ensuring to “stir” the baking buds every 10-15 minutes.
- Once the cannabis has turned from green to medium-brown, it can be removed from the oven.
When you have produced your own CBD, you can use it to make your own edibles and extractions.
While decarboxylation is one of the most important parts of activating the various therapeutic compounds found in cannabis, it is something that is relatively unheard of to the basic consumer.
As you can see, however, decarboxylation is an extremely important part of harnessing the benefits of CBD.
1Phytocannabinoids 101: What Are Phytocannabinoids. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://www.marijuanadoctors.com/resources/phytocannabinoids/#:~:text=The%20most%20widely%20known%20and%20studied%20phytocannabinoids,%20or,Cannabichromene%20(CBC)%205%20Cannabinol%20(CBN)%206%20Cannabidiol%20(CBD)
2Wang, M., National Center for Natural Products Research, Wang, Y., Avula, B., Radwan, M., Wanas, A., . . . B, A. (2016, December 01). Decarboxylation Study of Acidic Cannabinoids: A Novel Approach Using Ultra-High-Performance Supercritical Fluid Chromatography/Photodiode Array-Mass Spectrometry. Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/can.2016.0020
6WO2017025712A1 – Use of cannabinoids in the treatment of epilepsy. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2021, from https://patents.google.com/patent/WO2017025712A1/en
7Takeda, S., Misawa, K., Yamamoto, I., & Watanabe, K. (2008, September 01). Cannabidiolic Acid as a Selective Cyclooxygenase-2 Inhibitory Component in Cannabis. Retrieved January 29, 2021, from https://dmd.aspetjournals.org/content/36/9/1917.long
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