The answers may be somewhat difficult to grasp at first, but not to worry: we are here to help. And once you understand the difference, it will be much easier for you to decide, which product is the perfect fit for you.
But before we can discuss the difference between raw and decarb, we need to look at the connection between cannabinoids and how they affect our bodies. In order to do so, we will need a quick chemistry lesson and a brief look at the history of cannabis.
Cannabis has been used as a medicine by many cultures for thousands of years. Some of the earliest signs of cannabis being used for medical purposes have been found in Asia and the Middle East, where ethnobiologists believe the cannabis plant originated from and where cannabis for millennia have been used for the treatment of a long line of conditions, diseases and health issues.
However, it was not until the 70s that Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam uncovered the trust about cannabis’ effects on our health. He did this by discovering the two primary cannabinoids of the plant: THC and CBD.
Cannabinoids are properties found in the cannabis plant, which have an effect on our bodies and minds when consumed. The effects happen when the cannabinoids come into contact with our endocannabinoid system – a vast and complex network of receptors in our nervous system. The receptors in our endocannabinoid system, such as our CB1 and CB2 receptors, are found all over the body and react in different ways when they receive a signalling component, such as a cannabinoid. Furthermore, the reaction to a cannabinoid is very individual, as the network of receptors differs in amount and sensitivity in each human body. This explains why some people feel nothing when consuming cannabis oil, where others may feel an immediate effect.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) takes part in regulating a wide array of bodily functions and signalling, such as pain, memory, mood and much more. THC and CBD are perhaps the most known of cannabinoids, but in truth there are over 100 identified (i.e. named) cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, which each interact differently with our ECS. Studies done on single cannabinoids have found them to have an effect on our ECS, but more interestingly, a mix of multiple cannabinoids can have an even stronger effect, as the cannabinoids help boost the effect of each other – a reaction also known as the entourage effect.
But it is not only cannabinoids which have an effect – or an entourage effect – on our ECS. Terpenes, or aromatic compounds, found in the cannabis plant also have a significant impact on the absorption of cannabinoids. The over 200 unique traces of terpenes in the cannabis plant (compounds that give each breed of cannabis its own unique scent and taste) is also able to boost the effects of certain cannabinoids, as well as contribute with their own positive effects.
For example, the terpene beta-caryophyllene has a mixed scent of Thai basil and black pepper, which in the cannabis plant helps repel insects and bacteria. When this terpene interacts with the ECS, it is absorbed through the CB2 receptor (as one of the very few terpenes to do so) and helps boost the immune system, just like it boosts the cannabis plant’s immune system.
So what does this have to do with Decarb?
Decarb (short for decarboxylation) is a word used to describe the type of method used to extract the natural compounds of the cannabis plant. Such methods include heating and drying of the plant material, which are processes that activate certain reactions in the plant and ensures the extractions of the desired compounds.
During heating and drying (decarboxylation), the natural presence of the cannabinoid acid THCa (a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis) is transformed into the carbohydrate THC. The level of THC in cannabis oil is often not significant enough to produce the “high” normally associated with the psychoactive compound THC, but its presence does enable other cannabinoids, such as CBD, to be absorbed more efficiently by the ECS receptors through the entourage effect.
The decarb process thereby makes both CBD and THC more readily available for absorption by the body (i.e. a high bioavailability), but the heating and drying process can also risk damaging the natural state of these compounds, namely CBDa and THCa. These cannabinoid acids have in their raw state their own unique health benefits, which can be broken down through decarboxylation.
So to summarize this chemistry lesson into simple terms; While the decarb process does make the individual compounds (like cannabinoids and terpenes) more readily available for absorption by the body’s ECS, the process also damages the entourage effect between these cannabinoids.
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And so, what is Raw?
Raw indicates that the cannabis or hemp plant material has not undergone any heating or curing processes, such as decarb. This means that cannabinoid acids, terpenes and other trace amounts are still present in the plant material, and thereby also in the oil produced from this material.
In its raw state, the hemp plant contain both CBD and CBDa. CBD can be present in the same plants as is THC, but industrial hemp is defined as a plant with very low trace amounts of THC. As such, hemp is a great plant to extract CBD from, without corrupting its natural state and effect.
Through CO2 extraction processes, no heat or drying is applied to the plant material, enabling the extraction of both CBD, CBDa, THCa and other natural compounds of the cannabis plant that have been found to have a positive effect on the state and health of our minds and bodies – all through their interactions with our endocannabinoids system.
CO2 extraction furthermore ensures a clean extraction, free from any chemicals. The oil is then cold filtered, which results in the cleanest and most natural cannabis oil, full of cannabinoids, terpenes and other natural compounds that merge together to produce an optimal oil for consumption as a health supplement.
Choosing between Raw or Decarb
Some may want the full package available in Raw CBD, because of its wide range of cannabinoids and beneficial compounds, such as terpenes, CBDa and THCa, which are otherwise broken down during the decarb process. Other may just want the bioavailability and quick absorption of the Decarb CBD, where the Raw CBD can be hard for the body to absorb and digest for people with a sensitive stomach or gut.
In general, people suffering from Alzheimer’s, mild anxiety, depression, arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, psoriasis, and asthma and other lung diseases have reported most benefits of Raw CBD, while those with more severe anxiety, ADD/ADHD, migraines, stress, and sleep issues have found relief from the Decarb CBD.
Anecdotal evidence tells us that the use of Raw CBD for conditions such as arthritis and chronic pain have felt a relief. The experience of the entourage effect of the Raw CBD can reportedly also result in an improved anti-inflammatory effect of the CBD – but this is highly dependent on each body’s ability to absorb the beneficial compounds of the cannabis plant extract.
Meanwhile, Decarb CBD has had positive effects on people’s anxiety, depression, ADHD, stress, sleep issues, and other mental health issues, as many describe its effect as calming and bringing about a sense of emotional peace.
The effects may vary dependent on the individual, but based on the stories we receive from the people who have tried either Raw or Decarb CBD, there is no doubt in our minds that cannabis oil can make a vital difference in many people’s lives.
Because of the varying effects on each person’s endocannabinoid system, we always recommend taking it slow and beginning with a low dose, no matter the choice of CBD. It can be said that more research is needed on the effects of CBD, but due to the many studies done so far, the balance that CBD can bring to the ECS is a gift that we want to share with anyone willing to give it a go.
CBD oil alone is not the solution to every problem, but can be a healthy and natural supplement to a balanced diet, plenty of water and a healthy lifestyle. The quality of life has improved for so many that have tried CBD oil, but your life can improve tenfold if you also remember to exercise regularly and drink plenty of water (not just any fluid, but simply regular water). This combination can be the key to a body in perfect balance.