Research based articles

Neutral vs. Acidic Cannabinoids: Understanding the Key Differences

Navigating the vast array of over 100 cannabinoids derived from the hemp plant can be challenging for both consumers and manufacturers alike. While neutral cannabinoids, like CBD, have gained significant popularity, more and more people are becoming interested in the benefits and advantages that acidic cannabinoids can offer. In this guide, we will provide an overview of what neutral and acidic cannabinoids are and highlight the key differences that set them apart from each other.

Neutral vs Acidic Cannabinoids

Acidic cannabinoids are the most predominant cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. Neutral cannabinoids are sourced from the hemp plant. When the hemp plant grows, it produces an array of acidic cannabinoids, such as CBDA and CBGA. These are then converted into neutral cannabinoids, like CBD and CBG, through a process called decarboxylation. When an acidic cannabinoid undergoes decarboxylation, it loses a carboxyl group through a chemical reaction that is triggered by exposure to high temperatures. This process results in the conversion of acidic cannabinoids, such as CBDA and CBGA, into their corresponding neutral forms, CBD and CBG. The removal of the carboxyl group causes a change in the molecular structure of the compound, which alters its properties and potential benefits. As a result, neutral cannabinoids and acidic cannabinoids may have different effects on the body when consumed, and each type may be better suited for addressing certain health conditions or symptoms.
The most sought after and researched acidic cannabinoids are CBDA and CBGA. Let’s discuss how they compare to their neutral counterparts scientifically and what it means for consumers.


In a variety of cases, CBDA has demonstrated itself to be significantly superior to CBD. Firstly, CBDA has been found to be 19 times more bioavailable than CBD. Bioavailability is the percentage or fraction of an administered drug or supplement that reaches systemic circulation and is able to have an effect. This means when an equivalent amount of CBDA and CBD are administered, one is able to absorb much more CBDA. This allows for lower doses of CBDA to feel therapeutic effects and makes it a more potent plant-derived therapeutic than CBD for addressing numerous health concerns. Many have taken notice of CBDA’s heightened bioavailability, including GW Pharma. They currently make Epidiolex, the only FDA approved plant-derived pharmaceutical with a fixed ratio of CBD to help patients with various seizure disorders.
CBDA also has demonstrated a greater affinity to many receptors when compared to CBD, including the 5-HT1A or serotonin receptor. While the receptor is most known for its role in mood support, it helps to modulate dozens of processes in the body, including pain signals and nausea. CBDA’s greater affinity to the receptor makes it more valuable than CBD for a variety of instances, such as acting as an anti-nausea, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant.
CBDA has also proven itself superior to CBD in reducing inflammation, pain, hyperalgesia, and acts as a greater antioxidant agent.


CBGA plays a critical role in the hemp plants development. Not only does it convert to CBG, but it also serves as the foundational acidic cannabinoid that facilitates the production of other cannabinoids in the hemp plant, including CBDA and THCA.
Research has found CBGA can help patients with metabolic disorders. CBGA can inhibit the enzyme aldose reductase, a key enzyme to modulate the lipid metabolism. When compared to CBG, CBGA had a greater effect in this instance.
CBGA was also found to have a greater antioxidant effect than CBG, making CBGA a greater plant-derived therapeutic to help with conditions that involve oxidative stress.

Product Application Differences

Products made with acidic and neutral cannabinoids vary greatly, but only neutral cannabinoids can be used for creating smokable products because the heat involved in smoking can cause acidic cannabinoids, such as CBDA, to convert to their neutral form, like CBD. Despite this limitation, there are still numerous formulations that can be made with both types of cannabinoids, including capsules, tinctures, edibles, and topicals.
Extensive research has demonstrated the significant therapeutic potential of acidic cannabinoids, which have been found to be more potent than their neutral counterparts in many instances. With ongoing research, we will continue to discover even more advantages that acidic cannabinoids have over their neutral counterparts.
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