While there is more information than ever before about CBD, there are still quite a few things that not everyone understands about cannabis.
Decarboxylation is one of these things.
Decarboxylation is a process that applies to all types of cannabis, including medical marijuana use, recreational marijuana use, and in the use of CBD products created from hemp.
If you use cannabis in any way, shape, or form (including THC and CBD products) decarboxylation is something you will benefit from learning about.
What is Decarboxylation?
Phytocannabinoids that are naturally occurring in cannabis are in an acidic form.
Decarboxylation is a process that removes a carboxyl group from a molecule. In the case of cannabis, a carbon atom is removed from a carbon chain, resulting in the release of carbon dioxide.
With cannabis, the process of decarboxylation converts the inactive compounds into active compounds that essentially unlocks its therapeutic effects.
Decarboxylation converts acidic cannabinoids present in cannabis into non-acidic cannabinoids. The process doesn’t convert 100% of the 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 cannabis (both hemp and marijuana) is decarboxylated, there isn’t naturally occurring CBD or THC present in the plant. Instead, these phytocannabinoids are found in an acidic state, better 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.
Decarboxylation takes place by two very simple things. Heat and time.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why people smoke marijuana rather than just eat it raw?
It’s because in order to achieve the desired effects, the THC present in marijuana must be heated up. 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 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? Because decarbing CBD helps to release most of the therapeutic benefits CBD contains.
Decarboxylation “activates” the CBD in order for consumers to be able to experience all of its therapeutic properties.
Simply put, decarboxylation of CBD is necessary to get the most out of the beneficial cannabinoid.
That being said, there are some benefits to non-decarboxylated CBD and other cannabinoids as well.
Let’s take a deeper look.
The Benefits of Non-Decarboxylated CBD
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).
There has been increased research on the acidic form of many phytocannabinoids, with evidence showing that CBDA contains benefits of its own.
Just like CBD, CBDA is non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you high.
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
- Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects
- Antibacterial properties
- Inhibits breast cancer cell migration
- Potential to reduce seizures associated with epilepsy
- Pain and inflammation reduction
As you can see, CBDA has shown to 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, however, which is why more companies have started to offer an option for “raw” 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.
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.
Decarbing CBD (and THC) at lower temperatures allows for the preservation of terpenes.
Terpenes, responsible for giving cannabis its aroma and flavor, also contain therapeutic benefits of their own. Terpenes also work in harmony with CBD and other cannabinoids to increase their overall effects.
Want to try to decarb cannabis on your own? It’s really, really easy. 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.
From here, you can use your decarboxylated cannabis to make your own edibles and extractions.
Final Thoughts on Decarboxylated CBD
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.