What’s the Difference? CBD VS CBDa for Pets

June 20, 2023

Written By: Earth Buddy Team

Image of organic hemp grown on Earth Buddy’s hemp farm. CBDa benefits pain and inflammation for dogs and cats.

Cannabis medicine doesn’t stop at THC and CBD. There are other beneficial compounds within the plant, like CBDa. Although CBD and CBDa are closely related, each has its own set of benefits. Learn more about the similarities. And learn the crucial differences between CBD vs. CBDa.

Major Cannabinoid Precursor Compounds

The major cannabinoid precursor compounds are key components of the cannabis plant, serving as the building blocks for the cannabinoids that the plant is most known for, such as THC and CBD. The three primary cannabinoid precursors are other acidic forms, including CBGA (cannabigerolic acid), CBDA (cannabidiolic acid), and THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid).

CBGA is often referred to as the “mother of all cannabinoids,” as it serves as the initial molecule that is converted into the other cannabinoids from hemp plants. Through enzymatic reactions, CBGA is converted into THCA, CBDA, and CBCA (cannabichromenic acid).

In the raw plant, THCA and CBDA are the primary cannabinoids. It’s only through the process of decarboxylation (the application of heat) that these acids convert into the more well-known cannabinoids THC and CBD. This process removes a carboxyl group from the acidic forms of the cannabinoids, allowing them to readily bind to the body’s endocannabinoid receptors.

Acidic forms were originally thought to possess zero benefit for humans or animals. In other words, they were thought to be inactive. Research is now finding that acidic forms could be beneficial. Understanding these precursor compounds is crucial to understanding the potential therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant.

What is CBDa?

Cannabidiolic acid, or CBDa, is the precursor to CBD. The “a” at the end of CBDa stands for the acidic carboxyl group on the molecular structure, which breaks off and turns into carbon dioxide when exposed to heat. It’s produced naturally in the flower of the hemp plant and is known as raw hemp extract. There are particularly large amounts of CBDa when the flower of the cannabis plant is at full maturity.

CBDa requires less refinement during processing as it doesn’t require the addition of heat or decarboxylation. The extract, once complete, contains a full spectrum of compounds. As long as it’s not further processed, the product remains full spectrum rather than broad spectrum.

Blonde Labradoodle taking a dropper of Earth Buddy’s Mobility Hemp Extract for dog’s joints. CBDa for dogs helps reduce inflammation and promote healthy joint function.

New Research Has Emerged on CBDa

In the past, the acid forms of cannabinoids weren’t thought to be beneficial in any aspect. Recent research has shown these types of compounds are highly bioavailable and can be beneficial to your dog’s health.

In fact, it’s been found to be especially beneficial for helping regulate mood and appetite. Additional benefits of CBDa include:

  • Promotes a sense of relaxation and mental alertness without drowsiness
  • Eases joint stiffness due to normal daily exercise and activity
  • May help normal inflammatory response associated with normal daily exercise and activity
  • Helps maintain normal emotional balance
  • Helps support joint flexibility and mobility
  • Supports digestive tract health
  • Supports and promotes long-term health
  • Helps maintain a normal inflammatory response
  • Interacts with the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor which could lead to an increase in serotonin levels in the brain, thereby promoting a calming effect in the body

The Research On CBDa

In 2008, researchers found that CBDa has a similar molecular structure to NSAID’s like ibuprofen but without the same harmful side effects. Researchers discovered that it functions by inhibiting COX-2, the same mechanism as common over-the-counter medications.

Then, in 2013, scientists from Canada looked into how CBDa affects dogs; particularly for stress and stomach upset. When used with low doses of conventional nausea medications in chemotherapy patients, their study discovered that CBDa was 1,000 times more effective than CBD in binding to serotonin receptors.

CBD VS CBDa: The Benefits of CBD

CBDa concentrate is heated at low temperatures, where it converts to CBD in a process called thermal decarboxylation. CBD has been more intensively studied than CBDa, and therefore, scientists are aware of more of the benefits that come along with CBD oil.

The benefits of CBD are similar to CBDa benefits, but the research on CBD is significantly more extensive. The following are among the benefits researchers have found from the use of CBD:

  • May help promote healthy inflammatory responses associated with normal daily exercise and activity
  • Enhances the physical and mental well-being of your pet
  • Helps keep dogs in peak condition
  • Helps support cognitive function
  • Supports and promotes long-term health

Although there are a large number of beneficial effects found with CBD, CBDa has been found to be up to eleven times more bioavailable than the heat-activated form of CBD. This means, unlike CBD, the body absorbs CBDa easier.

Despite CBDa being more bioavailable, CBD is more stable than CBDa, which means it won’t degrade as quickly if it’s exposed to light or heat. If exposed to heat, as discussed previously, it doesn’t mean it won’t still be beneficial, but it will transform into CBD as the carboxyl group falls off.

The Similarities Between CBD and CBDa

Cannabidiolic acid, CBD, and other cannabinoids all offer benefits by stimulating the endocannabinoid system. Both CBD and CBDa interact with this body system to promote homeostasis in the body. This means that if your dog is consuming CBDa rather than CBD, CBDa still affects the body in a way that brings it back into balance.

Each compound reacts with the body in its own way. For example, if you provide your dog with CBDa oil, it will work on different receptors than CBD does but still work with the body’s endocannabinoid system to achieve optimal effects.

The Safety Considerations of CBDa

Since there isn’t as much research completed on CBDa as on CBD, pet parents may wonder how safe CBDa is for their dog to ingest. Fortunately, CBDa is a naturally occurring compound in the hemp plant. This means there isn’t much processing involved in extracting this compound.

By removing the heating step, the extract is kept completely intact, resulting in less risk to your pet. When a plant extract is minimally processed, it’s kept as close to its natural state as possible. The more natural an extract is (in most cases), the safer the extract is to provide to your pet or even yourself.

CBDa for Your Dog’s Joints

Border collie with white, brown, and black spots licking a bottle of Earth Buddy Mobility Hemp Extract for dogs with CBDa. Read this article to learn more about the benefits of CBDa.

Like other acidic forms of cannabis compounds, including tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa) and cannabichromenic acid (CBCa), CBDa has a limited number of clinical trials. Due to their lack of extensive data and popularity, CBDa products can be difficult to find. Fortunately, Earth Buddy does offer CBDa products that are organically grown and processed in Colorado, USA.

Earth Buddy’s CBDa product, Mobility 500MG-CBDa:CBD, is specially formulated for joint stiffness in your dog. This product contains a 4:1 ratio of CBDa: CBD as well as organic MCT oil and organic grapeseed oil.

The benefits of a 4:1 ratio of CBDa and CBD include:

  • Enhances bone and joint health
  • Helps maintain healthy bone and joint function
  • Supports normal recovery from stress
  • Helps maintain a normal inflammatory response
  • Helps support joint flexibility and mobility

With this product, you start at low doses of .25mL per 20 lbs of body weight one to two times daily.

CBDa and CBD In An Equal Ratio

Earth Buddy also offers Balance Hemp Extract, which has a 1:1 ratio of CBDa: CBD. This combines raw CBDa and heat-activated CBD.

The health benefits of an equal ratio of these two compounds include:

  • Helps keep animals in peak condition
  • Helps maintain the general health of all ages and breeds
  • This blend of CBDa & CBD will provide a full-spectrum of health benefits that can enhance the physical & mental well-being of your pet
  • For stress from traveling, hospitalization, moving or other situations that may cause stress
  • Helps maintain contentment during separation, travel, motion sickness and tension caused by changes in your pet’s daily routine

Similar to the mobility product, you start your dog at low doses. Provide your dog with .25 mL per 20 lbs of body weight, one to two times each day.

The Research Continues

Now that acidic compounds have been found to have beneficial effects, additional research will continue to determine how far these effects go. Not only will research continue on the acidic compounds, like CBDa, but also on their product, CBD. Until additional research is released, scientists have laid the foundation to make this acidic form beneficial for current use.

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