What Is Decarboxylation and why It is Important for THC and CBD

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Last reviewed on: 21 Oct. 21

Decarboxylation of raw hemp oil CBDa and for that matter any cannabinoid in acid form, is it needed? Decarboxylation is a process by which a compound in its acid form converts to is neutral form. The carboxylic acid is released naturally through time, drying of a plant, exposure to light and/or accelerated by the application of heat. It is a chemical reaction releasing carbon dioxide and thus removing the carboxyl group in the compound.

Cannabinoids in a growing plant are in their acid form.Biosynthesis and Decarboxylation of THC and CBD from CBGa

Endocannabinoids are naturally produced in your body while phytocannabinoids form in growing plants.

Essentially cannabinoids are messengers that either stimulate or bind to cell receptors in the body and have varying physiological effects. Cannabigerolic-acid ( CBGa ) is the first phytocannabinoid from which all other cannabinoids originate. By the process of biosynthesis CBGa combines with enzymes and converts into other cannabinoids in their acid forms. 

The cannabis / hemp plant being the largest plant source of cannabinoids and has over 100 different phytocannabinoids identified in various strains of the plant. The most well known being the psychoactive compound Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ) and non psychoactive, Cannabidiol ( CBD ). Both of which occur along with all the other cannabinoids in their acid forms in the growing plant. Of the 100 plus cannabinoids of the hemp plant, Cannabidiolic acid ( CBDa ) represents up to 40% of the cannabinoid content in the growing plant.

There are also synthetic man made cannabinoids designed to emulate the effects of THC and CBD on the body. They are illegal now in most countries. Cheap to produce they have found their way into some unscrupulous CBD vape and gummy products.

So why is decarboxlation important for cannabinoids?

The answer depends on the final purpose. Both THC and CBD occur to their acid forms in a growing plant, as THCa-A, THCa-B and CBDa, all of which are non-psychoactive. Decarboxlation occurs slowly and naturally in older plants and shortly after harvest.

Anandamide was the first endo cannabinoid discovered in the body. Its presence seems to affect the nervous system and studies into its role in pain management, sleep and appetite are ongoing. THC similarly binds to the same receptors as Anandamide and hence its use in pain management programs throughout the world.

Medical cannabis is grown to be high in THCa. Applied decarboxylation by heating the material to over 220°C for at least 30 minutes is used to convert THCa to THC. Depending on the concentration of THC it can induce a ‘high’ associated with smoking or ingesting medical and recreational Cannabis. If this is the primary goal then applying heat to accelerate the decarboxylation process is a very necessary step in producing ‘active’ THC.

‘Active’ has also been used to market CBD products. The message being CBD is inactive when it is in its precursor form of CBDa hemp oil. Therefore, needs decarboxylation to make it ‘active’. But active in what? It will not get you high. So the only other reason is for its potential healthful benefits; right.

The marketing implies that CBDa needs to become CBD in order to provide healthful benefits. But this is marketing spin, it is simply untrue. CBD and CBDa interact differently in the body but do we really know which is ‘better’? The research in the area along with all the other cannabinoids is still in its infancy. However, evidence is growing that acid forms could present as much benefit, if not more.

Why acid forms of cannabinoids have got less air play.

THCa requires decarboxylation to create similar binding of the compound as anandamide, as well as for its recreational psychoactive use. Therefore, we believe the emphasis on CBD, is a result of the fact that along with THCa and all other acid compounds, CBDa converts to its neutral form and so the neutral form was extensively studied.

As the second most abundant phytocannabinoid in medicinal cannabis it stands to reason why it would be ‘discovered’ interacting with cell receptors and providing purported benefits. While the emphasis of many studies and the marketing has leaned on CBD, there is ongoing studies into other Phytocannabinoids and their potential benefits. Check out this article for a more extensive look at CBD and its partnering constituents.

The body is a miracle of nature

While scientists strive to understand by breaking things down into smaller and separated pieces the body operates holistically. Think of Vitamin C also called ascorbic acid a chemical compound that can be artificial or natural in origin (just like CBD). People take Vitamin C primarily to support their immune system. But which is better; a tablet or eating food high in vitamin C? An orange or broccoli has so many other compounds occurring naturally and in synergy with one another. We don’t fully understand how the body makes full use of these compounds. However scientists, doctors and food nutritionists all agree that vitamins, nutrients and micro nutrients are better received through a rich and varied wholefood diet.

Organic cold-pressed CBD oil – Mechanically cold pressed

Applied decarboxylation will convert acid froms of All the cannabinoids, therefore changing the ratios found naturally in the plant. So if taking cannabinoids for their potential healthful benefits is the goal does this affect their synergy or ‘entourage effect’? We believe so.

raw hemp oil CBD CBDaSeshat CBD+ is mechanically cold pressed whole plant oil. That’s raw hemp oil CBD CBDa, where some of the CBDa decarboxylates only through the process of drying rather than applied heat.

Organic cold-pressed CBD oil, no chemicals nor applied heat used in the process. Nothing added back nor taken away. Naturally abundant in the hemp plant’s many constituents. It’s full spectrum CBD in the true sense. Phytocannabinoids such as CBD,CBDa,CBG,CBGa, and CBC, Terpenes, Polyphenols, Flavonoids and other micro nutrient all occurring in their natural form.

Much like we know, but don’t fully understand why wholefoods are better than processed and or their isolated constituents, if you are looking for healthful benefits consume as close as nature provides, it’s that simple.



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