What the eyes perceive in herbs or stones or trees is not yet a remedy; the eyes see only the dross

- Paracelsus -

I decided to write this post after much in-depth research around the use of CBD for pets because of its increasing popularity in UK.

Clinical observations are showing proof about the benefits in using CBD oil for many conditions in both human and animals such as pain, stress, anxiety and inflammation.

Studies have shown the use of CBD oil in helping to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures, reducing or eliminating nausea associated with several conditions and also helping to reduce inflammation throughout the body.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST PRODUCT?

This has been the essential core of my research. How to choose a good product.

FIRST, what is the best plant to extract CBD oil from in order to achieve maximum benefit from it?

Some producers suggest buying CBD extract from industrial hemp not marijuana, supporting the fact that you don't want your dog to get “high”.

But, because it's easy to get confused when discussing the difference between hemp and marijuana, it's good to know that from the botanical point of view, they are both varieties of the same Cannabis sativa plant species.

CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the hundreds of compounds of the cannabis plant. Different methods of growing and different parts of the plants might produce different components. The CBD (cannadibiol) is the non-psychoactive component.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component and this is the reason why it's the illegal component of the cannabis plant. But in countries where this is legal, THC can be prescribed for cancer patients and interestingly, the combination of THC and CBD can actually decrease the psychoactive effect of THC and increase the medical properties.

WHAT IS HEMP?

Hemp is a cannabis plant cultivated outdoors, growing up to 2-4 meters in height with both male and female plants together to encourage wind pollination and increased seed production. Hemp in fact is harvested for its seeds and stalks to produce paper, textile, biofuel, nutritional supplements and medicine. Legally, for cannabis to be considered hemp, it must contain less than 0.3% THC per dry weight. It's naturally higher in CBD.

WHAT IS MARIJUANA?

Marijuana is a cannabis plant cultivated indoors and closely monitored to prevent female plants from becoming fertilised by male plants which lower the level of THC in the plant. Compared to hemp, marijuana grows shorter with lots of flowers that are the part of the plant which is mostly used commercially.

Since the natural high content of THC, marijuana is illegal in the UK, although the law allows its use for medical reasons only. The psycho-activity is based on the ratio of CDB:THC. At 1:1 the psycho-activity begins to diminish and at 4:1 CDB:THC the effect is not present.

So, the best legal CBD oil to buy for animals is the one derived from hemp, 100% organic and 100% extract from the plant. An oil-based tincture is the best form to administer to animals because of the high absorption rate in the mouth, and to be taken after eating. The presence of fat in the food might help to increase the absorption, but if you're using an oil-based tincture the problem is solved.

Look for a lab tested product to be aware of the CBD potency (mg/cannabinoids per ml/tincture). Professional producers are more than happy to send you the lab results as the labels can be tricky sometimes reporting “100% organic, CBD-rich whole-plant hemp oil...” not telling you how many milligrams (mg) of CBD are contained in the product you're buying.

On the lab report you will find a lot of abbreviations like CBD, CBDA, CBDV, THC, THCA, etc. These represent the CBD profile and they are all essential. CBDA for example is the acidic precursor of CBD that has to be “activated” by heat during the process of decarboxylation for more than 50%. CBDV is the component of the CBD profile acting on nausea, seizures, inflammation and pain as well.

From my point of view, avoid edibles, capsule and hemp based CBD products because the concentration is unknown and if you really want to achieve the benefit of CBD oil for your dog or cat, those products are just a waste of time and money.

Consider 0,5 mg/kg as a general starting rate but according to recent research run by Cornell University 2 mg/kg is the dose observed to be effective in reducing pain and chronic inflammation due to osteoarthritis (OA). At the end of the article you can find the PDF of the article. 

Start on a low dosage and gradually work up to every 7 days to find the right dog/cat dosage. 

HOW DOES THE CBD OIL WORK IN THE ANIMAL BODY?

Every living being's body has an endocannabinoid system that works as a network of receptors and cannabis-like chemicals, regulating vital functions such as sleep, appetite and inflammation.

Sea squirts, rodents, and all vertebrate species share the endocannabinoid system as an essential part of life and adaptation to environmental changes. By comparing the genetics of cannabinoid receptors in different species, scientists estimate that the endocannabinoid system evolved in primitive animals over 600 million years ago, long before the Cannabis plant evolved 34 million years ago.

Researchers have shown that CBD creates higher levels of the physiologic endocannabinoids of the body, helping the body itself to restore balance when a pathology occurs. As an example, CBD interacts with different receptors in the body like serotonin and G-proteins that control the temperature and pain perception.

Also, small doses of cannabinoids may stimulate the body to make more endocannabinoids and build more cannabinoid receptors. This process could be the reason why sometimes CBD oil doesn't work straight away, but by the second or third course of therapy it is possible to observe the benefit as the sensitivity has been increased and the body starts to respond. For the same reason, small but regular doses might work better than one high dosage of CBD.

In conclusion, I'm glad to have done some research on CBD oil as I have a clearer understanding about what it is and how it works. I'm extremely fascinated by this herb and by the fact that I have observed a lot of similarity between CBD and the mechanics of acupuncture on the endocannabinoid system. Once again integration might be the key.

In 2016 the UK Medical Healthcare Regulatory Agency decided to recognise CBD's therapeutic benefits and reclassify it as medicine. This means that can still be bought as a nutritional supplement but in future CBD may have to go through the same rigorous trials as other medicine.

And in Sept 2018, the VMD (Veterinary Medicines Directorate) stated that product specifically labelled for pets containing Cannabidioil are considered veterinary medicines. For this reason, in UK, companies supplying CBD products for human use in line with the requirements of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency must are not allowed to indicate or recommend their products for use on animals but they do supply holistic vets who, as regular members or the RCVS, may prescribe a legally obtained human CBD product under the provisions of the prescribing cascade, as there are currently no CBD products authorised in the UK for veterinary use. 

Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs