CBD: Myth or Miracle?

Holistic medicine has always been a point of controversy, in both the human and animal fields. It’s hard to believe that things as simple as plant compounds can cure or bring relief to a huge number of medical issues and diseases experienced by humans and their companions–and yet there is a plethora of evidence supporting the use of holistic products for relief of conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, anxiety, skin conditions, and more!

Today we will be tackling one of the more controversial products new on the market–CBD, or Cannabidiol, a compound found in a variety of plants and most commonly extracted for animal use from the hemp plant.

First of all, there are a few disclaimers to be noted here.

  • Hemp and marijuana are different plants. They both fall under the plant family “Cannabis” but have different chemical makeups and uses. Hemp is legal in Canada, contains extremely low concentrations of THC, and is non-psychoactive vs the marijuana plant which is illegal and contains moderate-high concentrations of THC, and is therefore psychoactive
  • Dogs and cats cannot get ‘high’ from the use of hemp, however they can get ‘high’ from the use or ingestion of marijuana, leading to marijuana toxicity (which we will discuss later in this article)
  • As we are a Canadian company, we will be talking primarily about Canadian products and refer to legality and production of hemp in Canada only.
  • Cannabidiol will be referred to as its common name, CBD, throughout the rest of the article.

With that in mind, let’s talk a little bit about CBD; what it is and how it works.

What is CBD?

CBD is a chemical compound that is extracted from flowers, like that of the hemp plant. It imitates chemical compounds naturally found in the body called endocannabinoids; these compounds were first observed in plants, but have also been discovered as being naturally produced in the body of vertebrates. Endocannabinoids are an integral part of what is called the Endocannabinoid System found all vertebrate creatures–everything from frogs, to birds, to humans–it’s a part of the physiological system that plays a huge role in maintaining homeostasis–the process by which our bodies react to the environment and stressors to keep us alive and healthy via communication between different parts and organ systems of the body.

Endocannabinoids and their receptors are all throughout the body, but they are primarily concentrated in the brain and the immune system, with a large concentration in the spleen and central nervous system. The receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system, primarily CB1-R and CB2-R, are thought to be the most prolific of all the receptors found in the body–including pain receptors! These receptors enable the binding of THC and CBD molecules, which work in a multitude of different ways depending on where they are in the body.

Most of the functional endocannabinoid system is found in areas where the organ systems of the body intersect, paying tribute to the major role that this recently discovered system plays in the maintenance of homeostasis and harmony in the body and mind.

Why is this controversial?

The cannabinoids themselves are the main thing we want to talk about! As mentioned earlier, the body does produce its own endocannabinoids–but the hot button issue here is the well-known anagrams of “THC” and “CBD”. Like other ingestible vitamins and minerals–think of your daily multivitamins, or Omega 3-6-9 compounds from salmon oil–cannabinoids from outside surfaces are available for use in our bodies; they imitate our individually produced cannabinoids well and are able to be synthesized and used by our endocannabinoid system. What these products do in our bodies mostly involves cell signalling; Essentially, they direct the traffic and give the orders. In the brain, they can affect memory, mood, the brain reward systems, the suppression of neurotransmitter release, and much more. Within the peripheral nervous system, they can help reduce inflammation and hypersensitivity by acting on pain receptors throughout our bodies and in our skin.

Not all of the cannabinoid compounds are created equally. CBD and THC, although they do have some similar effects on the body and are often found together, have fundamentally different effects. CBD is completely non-psychoactive. Ingesting a product with CBD won’t give you a ‘high’ or anything of that sort. CBD works primarily by increasing the amount endocannabinoids in an individual–if there are more compounds around, the endocannabinoid receptors can bond with them more and there is a stronger effect. On the other hand, THC is psychoactive– you will get ‘high’, and THC’s primary property is the moderation of pain. For humans, there is no lethal dosage of THC, but for other animals the effect can be massive.

Marijuana toxicity is the effect of animals coming into contact with marijuana, which is high in the psychoactive THC, through direct ingestion or secondhand smoke. Although the research on dogs and cats’ interactions with marijuana is little, it’s clear that marijuana is dangerous for them. Effects of marijuana toxicity range from moderate to severe, and can include such things as light sensitivity, paranoia (seen as pacing incessantly and panting), lethargy, loss of balance, low blood pressure and heart rate, and seizures. An excessive amount of marijuana consumed has been known to lead to the death of pets. The reason for this is that dogs seems to have a lot more cannabinoid receptors in their brains than we do, which means that they CAN overdose while evidence for humans shows that we cannot.

About THC…

“But Matthew,” you may ask, “why even bother writing a blog about this cannabinoid stuff if marijuana kills dogs?” Well, because the products I want to talk about do not contain THC, and are not found from the marijuana plant of course! THC has a lot of anecdotal evidence that supports the danger for pets, and a lot of debate surrounding human use.

Commonly known as “CBD oil”, products containing cannabidiol are newly emerging onto the pet market. As mentioned previously, CBD is non-psychoactive and the responsible producers of cannabinoid oil harvest their product from the hemp plant, which contains an extremely small amount of natural THC–certainly not enough to ever have an adverse effect on an animal. The use of CBD in pets has shown wondrous results and has been used successfully to treat a variety of malaise including: anxiety and compulsive behaviours, hot spots, inflammation, pain, and seizures.

Use in Animals

To get an in-depth look at these products, I reached out to Apawthecary Pets, a Vancouver-based company that has been producing hemp oil for years and has seen amazing results. They work alongside a host of vets and have performed research for every last aspect of their products. It’s safe to say that the products this company produces, are safe!

We were in research and development for 1.5 years before going to market.We worked with vets, chemists and a food scientist to develop our line and are proud of our results… We wanted to offer the best product possible,” Tami, co-founder of Apawthecary Pets says; “As [animal lovers], we need to make sure every ingredient is of the highest quality.  Many of the animals using the line have some form of medical issue and we take great steps to ensure we are only helping the issue and not adding to it.  All ingredients have been sourced for their purity and beneficial qualities.” With a chemist due to join the team, they are hoping that they can stay up to date on all the newest research and continually offer new and better products for all the aching, senior, and disabled pets out there.

The best part of this product, is the side effects–or lack thereof. There has been conclusive testing to determine that the use of CBD oil extracted from hemp has no adverse effect, physiological or otherwise; Blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, glucose levels, bodily pH, and respiration all remain constant or improve. However, Tami does note that she has seen some side effects– “[Sleepiness is] an occasional side effect. [After use] a dog may seem “off” and people become worried–In fact, we have “freaked” out the animal as they are finally feeling no pain and/or discomfort and don’t know why. You can’t tell a pet you’re giving them something to take the pain away and when it’s suddenly gone – it scares them!” On top of that, there has not been a single recorded instance of overdose with pure CBD oil. Because their product is 100% sourced from Hemp found in Canada, the US, and Europe, there is absolutely no chance of marijuana toxicity or adversities from THC–there is no added THC! You can find Apawthecary Pet’s products online at their website (below) or through your local retailer.

Depending on the severity of the malaise, you may want to consult your vet prior to use. Otherwise, all you need to start using this product is a location and an open mind!

Check out Apawthecary Pet’s website for more information on their particular line of products, both commercial and veterinary.












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