Key variations between CBD, CBDA and CBGA

A study published this week by researchers at Oregon State University found that some hemp compounds have the ability to prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells.

The results of the study, led by Richard van Breemen, a researcher at the Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, the College of Pharmacy and the Linus Pauling Institute, were published this week in the Journal of Natural Products.

Hemp, scientifically known as Cannabis sativa, is a source of fiber, food and animal feed, and several hemp extracts and compounds are added to cosmetics, body lotions, dietary supplements and food, van Breemen said.

Read more here: Study: Cannabis compounds prevent the coronavirus from entering human cells


“We identified several cannabinoid ligands and ranked them according to their affinity for the spike protein,” said van Breemen. “The two cannabinoids with the highest affinity for the spike protein were CBDA and CBGA, and they have been confirmed to block infection.”

So what are the differences between CBD, CBDA, CBGA and marijuana plants that you would buy at a dispensary?


CBD, an acronym for cannabidiol, has no psychoactive effects. It’s probably what you see in some drugstores, health food stores, or drugstores.

It’s a very versatile compound that makes it ideal for oils, gummies, lotions, creams, and other products. Hemp contains a lot of CBD.

But CBD is not the compound tested in the Oregon State study. CBD is activated in hemp plants from its original form – CBDA.



CBDA, known as cannabidiolic acid, is secreted in the stems, leaves, and flowers of a cannabis plant. When the plant is activated (a process involving heat), the acid is removed from the CBDA, thereby activating CBD.

They have similar compounds, but CBDA isn’t as versatile. It is usually obtained by “juicing” plant matter and can be added to foods and beverages or used in tinctures, concentrated herbal extracts.

But basically, CBDA is the raw form of CBD. And it’s not that easy to find. But you can buy it. (It hasn’t been studied as much as CBD)


CBGA, known as cannabigerolic acid, is considered the “mother cannabinoid” because without it there is no CBD, CBDA or THC.

CBGA compounds are similar to other cannabinoids, but haven’t been studied nearly as extensively as the others. It’s underwhelming. Enzymes called synthases are responsible for converting the CBGA into molecules like THCA, the raw, unactivated molecule that converts to THC after the application of heat.


Again, you can find this in oils and tinctures online, but it’s harder to find and sometimes quite expensive because it’s harder to extract.

What about smoking marijuana?

At this point, it doesn’t appear that smoking marijuana, even a strong CBD strain, will produce the effects reported in this study. We don’t have enough information to suggest this.

CBDA or CBGA products, like oils that offer them in their raw form, don’t work the same in marijuana products, which usually contain high levels of THC, the psychoactive compound that gets you high.

And before you try anything new, do your research, talk to your doctor, and make sure it’s something you should bring into your life. Check out Project CBD for information on getting started.

Related: UM study: Natural COVID infections offer protection against reinfection, two variants

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