CBD vs. CBDA: What’s The Difference?


Stacy Cason is the founder and CEO of Planetarie, a new CBDA company. What is CBDA? Modern Aging Founder and CEO Risa Morimoto talked with Stacy about what is CBDA, how CBDA differs from CBD, how it is used to treat pain and anxiety, and published research on CBDA to treat Covid-19.

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How CBD is Processed

Hemp is a cannabis plant and the plants themselves make cannabinoids. However, you must get it from the field into a bottle. Most are done with ethanol or CO2, which is then refined with ethanol, hexane, pentane, other hydrocarbons which are flammable and not good to accumulate in our bodies. At Planetarie, we created a method for extracting cannabinoids with water. It was harder than I expected to refine without the traditional process and to get the business up and going. I never worked in manufacturing before this, but I did have a science background. I was really dedicated to the science part of it having worked a 15-year career in pain management and management in anesthesiology. Offering a new method of pain management without dangerous and addictive opioids or damaging nonsteroidal NSAIDs is the basis of why I created Planetarie.


The cannabis plant makes CBDA. The plant does not make CBD. CBD is made after heating CBDA with heat chemicals. With a water extraction, we’re able to keep it in the same form that it’s made in the plant. The raw natural acidity keeps it in its full spectrum form. It’s as close to the plant as it can be. By keeping it in that natural form — we end up with CBDA. I never wanted to do any of the traditional processing. I originally thought, “Well, nobody’s ever heard of CBDA. However, if you decarboxylate CBDA (chemically), you can sell it as CBD.” I never wanted to do that.

We started by looking at the research of CBDA. We wanted to know the effects of leaving it the way nature made it. There are fewer studies on CBDA than CBD, but there is still a lot of research that has been done. We reviewed over 400 studies recently for the white paper and the addendum. It turns out that there’s benefit to leaving it in this raw natural form. Our bodies absorb it better when it’s in this CBDA form. It’s more potent and more bioavailable. There are also some additional benefits that aren’t present with CBD. The most important one is the anti-inflammatory pathway of the Cox 2 receptors. That’s the same group of receptors by which ibuprofen can block your headache, but without the side effects to your stomach and kidneys that come from the sister group of Cox 1 receptors in CBDA. This might be a more science and medical than most people want to know, but the basic message is that by leaving it in the raw form, it’s better against inflammation.

Traditional methods and all other methods of extracting with the chemicals cause a decarb. The rumor in the industry is that CBDA as a molecule is not stable. We’ve disproven that for three and a half years now. Chemicals, specifically ethanol, almost always causes the decarb reaction. Even if no heat was used, ethanol will decarboxylate it and turn CBDA into CBD. Since that’s the way plants have been extracted since the 11th century, that is why CBD has blown up rather than CBDA. I think CBD has been studied in most cannabinoid studies because CBD is what’s most commercially available.

Another myth that has gotten people confused over the years is that you can will get high from marijuana plants that are high in THC. If you take that same flower – the bud or the plant- and eat or use it, which is equivalent, you get the acidic form of THC (THCA) which does not cause psychoactive effects. If your intention is to get high, you must heat it like with a lighter to decarboxylate THCA (chemically) into THC. A long time ago, from the cultural perspective, people thought that if it wasn’t heated, it is not active. That’s been proven to be incorrect repeatedly in science, but you do still have some people from the old stoner culture that think it has to be heated or burned or decarboxylated to be activated. This is not true. On the CBD side, the plants that are low in THC including our CBDA products, nobody’s getting high from them. The plants are low in THC due to leaving it in its raw form rather than heating it. Since our products are low in THC, you can take the whole bottle and not feel high.

How to Use CBDA

The biggest benefit of CBDA is the anti-inflammatory effect it — not just pain. Most of our modern diseases are inflammatory in origin. For example, diabetes is partly because of inflammation. A lot of anxiety is from inflammation in the brain. Nerve pain can be from inflammation. There are a lot of autoimmune conditions too that are inflammatory in nature. So, inflammation is a big umbrella of symptoms from diseases and illnesses. Besides anti-inflammation, CBDA is powerful against nausea. It acts on the serotonin receptors, which signal anxiety and depression. Specifically, the 5HT1A is the receptor that connects with the stomach. There’s a correlation between our stomach and our brain. When you get nervous or anxious about something, you feel it in your stomach — that’s that serotonin receptor. CBDA helps to block that connection. There’s a study from the National Institute of Health that shows CBDA is one thousand times more potent than CBD against nausea. A good friend of mine had breast cancer. As she was going through treatment, I sent her some of our soft gels and she said that they are amazing. It took away her nausea and she was able to keep food down. CBA can also be used for car sickness or motion sickness since the research referred to anticipatory nausea. If you take CBDA right before a long car ride, you will feel much better.

Choosing Between CBD and CBDA

CBDA and CBD act on different receptors, but they work really well together. I’m not here to say don’t take CBD. I’m saying that CBDA offers some additional benefits. CBD does not act on Cox 2 receptors. CBD does have anti-inflammatory properties, but through some of the endocannabinoid receptors CBDA is far more powerful against inflammation. They’ve found that the combination of the two has a synergistic effect. If you have really bad pain, you can combine the two. CBD has what we call a biphasic response. If you graph time to become effective, you will get a curve; it takes a time for CBD to get going. However, too much CBD has the opposite effect. CBDA does not do that. The graph is linear. If you’ve increased your CBD dose and it’s not doing anything for you or taken so much that you’re seeing the opposite effect, it may be a good time to add in CBDA.  You could take CBDA instead of CBD, or you could take it in addition to CBD.

Using CBDA For Pain

You can take CBDA for acute pain. There’s a book recently published by a physician, Dr. Kogan, at George Washington university. He compares using CBDA to ibuprofen. I’ve found that one soft gel, which is 25 milligrams of CBDA, is equivalent to one ibuprofen pill. If you have a headache and you would normally take two ibuprofens, then take two soft gels. If you have a really bad headache and you want four, then take four. The dosing on our soft gels is low enough that you can take several. The idea with dosing is that everyone is different. This is something that you can take daily such as a daily vitamin to satisfy your endocannabinoid receptors. You may find yourself in more homeostasis and better balance in your body. You can also take it as treatment. For example, if you feel migraines, you can put the drink additive in your morning coffee. If my neck is hurting or my left knee is irritable after a morning workout, then I rub the CBDA muscle rub on. Thus, you can think of two paths to taking CBDA – taking it as a daily maintenance dose and taking extra when you need. One of our most popular products is the salve, someone earlier this week said, “Oh my god. This is like miracle.” The salve is in a jar and it’s good for the skin in addition to managing pain. It’s based in jojoba oil which is also great for our skin. The very light. It’s not overpowering for people who don’t like perfume. We have an unscented version and also the pink grapefruit scent using essential oils that is subtle. Our products do not pull out all the terpenes or add in a ton of the terpenes so that it smells like hemp. However, not everyone wants that strong plant taste.

What are Terpenes and Flavonoids?

There are different aromas that you can pull from the plant. The aromas differ depending on the strain of the plant. So, there are many smells than the “weed smell.” Terpenes are basically components of the plant that give it a smell and taste. I think of them like accessories or aesthetics. Terpenes give the smell and the taste, not just in hemp but all plants. Blueberries smell like blueberries because that plant has a specific terpene in it. There are many terpenes with different names. Some people really get into the terpene profile. I’m not sure how much that really benefits on the medicinal side. So I don’t get into that. Much of what we pull out is the cannabinoids – all the cannabinoids from the plant. It’s CBDA, but it’s also THCA, which doesn’t get you high. There is also CBGA and CBDVA. The A stands for acid, so these chemicals are in the original acidic form made in the plant. We also pull-out plant sugars – the oligosaccharides and flavonoids. Flavonoids are interesting because that’s a component of the plant material itself. Flavonoids are not cannabinoid molecule, but it is closely related to that. They have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects which could be part of what we call the entourage effect. The entourage effect is when the different compounds of the plant — terpenes and cannabinoids — work together each with its own healing benefits.

There’s a lot of companies and maybe some of the bigger ones that only pull out a CBD isolate or a CB isolated molecule. This means that the product contains only the CBD molecule, but nothing else from the plant. Studies have shown repeatedly that there are far greater benefits from having the whole plant extract versus one isolated molecule or even two isolated molecules. A lot of the additional benefits come from the flavonoids which is in the plant particulates. All these different cannabinoids work together. They do better altogether. Thus, all our products are full spectrum.

Types of CBDA Products – Ingestibles, Topicals and Pet

We could loosely put our product into three categories — ingestibles, topicals and pet. We have 14 to 15 SKUs right now. Our newest one is an ultimate body oil. It’s a massage oil, but it’s like all our products. It’s formulated in-house with the fewest intentional functional ingredients. I formulated this one myself in the lab. It’s five different oils that are organic. It’s a massage oil, but it is multifunctional because it can be used as a lubricant anywhere on the body and internally. I’ve had good feedback on it being used as a lube as well. We also have other topicals, like the body butter. This is like a thick moisturizing lotion in a lavender apricot flavor that I use a lot. We also have the salve and muscle rub that is very effective for muscle aches and pain.

As for ingestibles, we have the soft gels and the infusion. Then, we have the drink additive. This drink additive is water soluble which means that it crosses the blood brain barrier more easily. I like to put it in my morning coffee or tea. I can tell that I can focus better afterwards. I tend to have a lot going on in my head — almost like ADD — so I find that I can focus better when I drink this. A lot of people use it for headaches.

There is also the infusion which you can put directly under the tongue like a tincture. The drink additive is what you can add to your drink, but you can still add the infusion to your drink if you want to. It’s based in coconut oil, so it will be like bulletproof coffee. Differently, the drink additive is water soluble, so it will dissolve. 


There’s been information over the last few months about CBDA and COVID 19. There was a big study released in early 2022 from Oregon State University. They tested several different compounds— CBDA and CBGA, which are both in our products that inhibit transmission of the COVID-19 virus. To simply explain the way the COVID-19 virus and many viruses get transmitted from cell to cell or from my body to your body is the a lock and key model. On the cell, there’s a lock (ACE receptor) which can be compared to the lock on your door. There is a spike protein from the virus that goes to the ACE receptor. When the protein binds to the ACE receptor, it opens the lock allowing entry into the cell. The CBDA and CBGA changes the shape of the lock (ACE receptor) on the cell so that the spike protein does not bind. Thus, the virus cannot enter the cell anymore. The study was done in vitro in test tubes. They were looking at the virus and at these compounds. They were not looking at the human body. However, that is being done now in animal models and eventually it will move into humans. You can look at humans who have been taking CBDA and how are they doing in this time of COVID-19. You can study the transmission rate. There will be more to come out of it. It was a great study, and it got a lot of attention. It was also misread quite a bit. On some late-night talk shows, they said that smoking weed can prevent COVID. It’s not the smoking weed. What they found is that the acidic forms of the plant molecules — the way it’s made in the plant and the way we do it — that can potentially prevent COVID-19.

Our goal is to get these products out to people who would benefit from use in a meaningful way.

For Modern Aging readers:  First time buyers of Planetarie products receive a 20% discount. Use the CODE: MODERN AGING. Click here for more info.

We are also generous with samples. If someone’s interested, but they’re not sure, they could reach out to us at hello@planetarie.com and ask for a sample. We’re happy to do that. Also, we have a 30-day money back guarantee. If you buy a product and you don’t think it is for you or you don’t like it, you can return it. We’ll give you your money back. We really believe that once people try the products, you will love them.

About Stacy Cason

Stacy started her career in healthcare, as an ICU nurse. She then completed her Master’s in anesthesia.  She was an anesthesiologist nurse practitioner for 10 years. Then, she went to business school and completely changed careers.  She became a real estate developer and this is where she learned about the hemp and cannabis industry.  She got really excited about the potential of healing with these plant medicines from the cannabinoids.   Once she started doing her research, she saw the enormous potential of CBDA to heal.


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