CBD and other Cannabinoids – How they can benefit you, your horses, and your pets
By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.
CBD’s popularity has mellowed over the years, but instead of fading into the background, researchers continue to expand and confirm its benefits. Most people think it is just one more supplement touted to relieve aggravating symptoms, but did you know that it is naturally occurring in our bodies as part of our endocannabinoid systems? Boosting levels that diminish due to age, stress, and illness can impact our body’s ability to heal itself.
I have written about CBD in an earlier article[i] where I explained how CBD can promote health for us as well as our horses. The goal of this article, however, is to expound upon the advantages of CBD and other cannabinoids and share with you what’s been recently discovered.
Review of the Endocannabinoid system
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a major signaling system that exists in you and your animals. It continually monitors any instability within the body and returns it to a state of balance or homeostasis so that the internal environment remains settled.
CBD (short for cannabidiol) and other cannabinoids are compounds that activate the receptors within this system. Cannabinoids, both naturally produced by the body (endogenous), and those supplemented from cannabis (exogenous), act as “keys” to these receptors, turning on a variety of health-promoting functions.
Within the ECS there are two main receptors -- CB1 and CB2:
- CB1 receptors exist mainly in the brain and central nervous system. They impact areas such as appetite regulation, memory, emotions, and feelings of pain.
- CB2 receptors are concentrated in the gastrointestinal tract and peripheral nervous system (nerve cells outside the brain and spinal cord) and modulate immune cell functions. When activated, they help reduce inflammation.
CBD does not make you “high”
CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the most studied, but they are only two, out of more than 80 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. THC is intoxicating, and this is where many misunderstandings occur.
Hemp-derived CBD is not marijuana
Though both hemp and marijuana belong to the Cannabis genus, their genetic composition distinguishes them to produce vastly different amounts of THC. Hemp-derived CBD is high in CBD and very low in THC (less than 0.3%).
Hemp seed oil is not the same as CBD
It is important to understand that CBD only comes from the stalks, leaves and flowers of the hemp plant. The seeds, however, do not contain any CBD. Products just from the seeds such as hemp seed hearts, hemp seed pellets, hemp seed meal, hemp seed protein, or hemp seed oil, do not contain CBD. These hemp products offer quality nutrients and are highly beneficial for you and your animals.[ii]
How can CBD help you?
There are so many reasons to incorporate CBD and other cannabinoids into your routine. Here are a few conditions that are benefitted:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Pain and inflammation from injury
- Chronic pain[v]
- Cancer management[vi]
- Metabolic disorders
Understanding the CBD lingo[vii]
There are three types of CBD:
- Full-Spectrum CBD products. These contain naturally occurring cannabinoids such as CBN, CBG, and CBC, as well as terpenes and nutritious flavonoids. They do contain a tiny amount of THC, but it is quite small (less than 0.3%). All these compounds work together to provide a synergistic, “entourage” effect which multiplies their benefit. Full-spectrum CBD products are legal throughout the U.S. as long as the THC content does not exceed 0.3%. But each state has its own laws. The inclusion of a little THC enhances the efficacy in relieving symptoms.
- Broad-Spectrum CBD products. These start with full-spectrum extract and process it further to remove THC, resulting in a product with no THC (or no more than a trace -- less than 0.01%). Even so, they offer the entourage effect benefit because the terpenes and flavonoids are still present.
- CBD Isolate. This the purest form of CBD. Since it does not contain other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids, it is generally not as effective in alleviating symptoms. But it is a good choice in situations where testing is required (such as employment drug tests).
Many products will offer the total amount of CBD in a 30 ml bottle, which typically holds 30 dropper-full servings. For example, a product that offers 1000 mg of CBD per bottle, will have 33 mg of CBD per dropper full. This dose would be a good place to start. If it makes you sleepy, try taking it at night. CBD products can go as high as 5000 mg per bottle, offering 167 mg with each dropper. Serious levels of pain and anxiety can be helped at this higher amount. But keep in mind that people are unique in their response, so it requires some trial and error.
Other products to consider:
- THC containing products. THC is the intoxicating cannabinoid found in marijuana. Concentrated in medical marijuana, it can improve the quality of life for many individuals.
- CBD + CBG. Here’s a cannabinoid that’s likely new to you – CBG (cannabigerol). It is a precursor to other cannabinoids, more commonly, CBD and THC. By taking both CBG and CBD together, it creates an incredibly effective full-spectrum blend[viii].
- CBD + CBDA. CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) is found in the raw extract, extracted from the flowering buds of the female hemp plant. It is the rawest form of CBD on the market and provides the endocannabinoid system a robust terpene unique to raw CBD extracts, making it even more effective than CBD alone.
- CBD + THC. Generally found in a gummy, this combination provides full-spectrum CBD that contains naturally occurring, hemp-derived Delta-9 THC (5 mg per gummy). It is deeply relaxing and can be helpful for chronic pain[ix]. THC is the intoxicating cannabinoid found in marijuana. Found in small amounts in most edible gummies (less than 0.3%), they are within legal limits. Added THC can improve the quality of life for many individuals.
CBD for horses
There are some recent attempts at documenting the effects of CBD on horses that have shown convincing advantages[x]. The main focus has been on treating pain, as well as situations that cause anxiety. One recent study looked at cribbing and found that CBD offered a successful treatment for this condition[xi].
Many companies sell CBD for equine consumption as the demand for these products continues to rise. Senior horses have been shown to benefit since they are more likely to experience pain and inflammation, and immune deficiencies, due to age-related conditions[xii]. Horses do well with short-term dosages, as well as long-term supplementation[xiii].
While we wait for more studies to offer confirmation, real-life experiences are showing great promise. Broad-spectrum CBD products are recommended because it is best to avoid any euphoric effects for horses.
CBD dosing should start out small with approximately 50 mg, twice daily. See how your horse responds. Some horses become relaxed and mellow, while others feel energized. You can adjust the dosage as needed, up to 200 mg per day. Keep in mind that it may take up to two weeks to see an improvement.
Here is a list of specific equine health conditions that CBD may improve:
- Immune deficiencies[xiv]
- Pain[xv]from arthritis[xvi] or laminitis
- Anxiety during stall confinement[xvii]
- Stress during traveling and shows[xviii]
- Ulcers and leaky gut[xix]
- Healing from surgery or injury[xx]
- Immune system depression from oxidative stress[xxi] experienced with Cushing’s disease
- Appetite regulation[xxii]
- Inflammation, with the potential to reduce leptin levels[xxv]
- Insulin resistance [xxvi]
Cannabinoids for dogs and cats
Your pets also have the same ECS signaling system and can experience many health benefits that relate to both physical and mental health[xxvii]. Dosing is typically 10 mg for animals under 25 pounds, up to 40 mg for animals 75 lbs or more. Some research data have been summarized[xxviii], but most experiences are anecdotal. However, pet owners have expressed improvements[xxix] in many areas, including:
- Veterinarian visits
- Car rides
- Separation anxiety
- Destructive behavior
- Fear of loud noises
- Pain and inflammation
- Reduced mobility
- Immunity against infections
Keep watching for new studies
CBD research is being pursued on many venues, including cancer management, dementia, type 2 diabetes, and neuropathy. It is truly remarkable in its scope. Before considering CBD in any of its forms, it is best to confirm that it does not interact with any medications that you or your animals may be taking[xxx].
It is worth trying CBD for yourself or your animals’ health conditions. CBD supplementation may relieve suffering, promote relaxation and reduce the impact of physical ailments.
[i] Getty, J.M. CBD for Horses – What you can expect. https://gettyequinenutrition.com/pages/cbd-for-horses-what-you-can-expect
[iv] Ultimate CBD Users Guide. https://www.thecbdistillery.com/ultimate-cbd-user-guide/
[v] Urits, I., Gress, K., Charipova, K., et. al., 2020. Use of cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of chronic pain. Best Practice & Research Clinical Anesthesiology, 34(3), 463-477.
[vi] O’Brien, K., 2022. Cannabidiol (CBD) in cancer management. Cancers, 14(4), 885.
[vii] CBD 101 from CBD Distillery. https://www.thecbdistillery.com/cbd-101/
[ix] Urits, I., Gress, K., Charipova, K., et. al., 2020. Use of cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of chronic pain. Best Practice & Research Clinical Anesthesiology, 34(3), 463-477.
[x] Landa, L., Trojan, V., Demlova, R., et. al., 2022. Cannabidiol and the possibilities of its use in veterinary medicine of dogs and horses: A brief review. Veterinarni Medicina, 67(9), 455-462.
[xi] Cunha, R.Z., Felisardo, L.L., Salamanca, G., et. al., 2023. The use of cannabidiol as a novel treatment for oral stereotypic behavior (crib-biting) in a horse. Veterinary and Animal Science, 19(March), 100289.
[xii] Turner, S., Kynch, H.K., and Adams, A.A., 2023. The effects of cannabidiol on immune function and health parameters in senior horses. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 257(March), 110549. https://doi.org/10.1016/j-vetimm.2023.110549
[xiii] Adamchick, M., 2023. Pharmacokinetics of CBD supplementation in Horses: Single dose vs long-term feeding. Honors College Thesis. Https://digitalcommons.murraystate.edu/honorstheses.
[xiv] Turner, S., Kynch, H.K., and Adams, A.A., 2023. The effects of cannabidiol on immune function and health parameters in senior horses. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 257(March), 110549. https://doi.org/10.1016/j-vetimm.2023.110549
[xv] Cannabidiol: A new option for patients in pain? DVM360, September 2017, p 32-33.
[xvi] Malaita, A.M., Gallily, R., Sumariwalla, P.F., et al., 2000. The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA.
[xvii] Maroon, J., and Bost, J., 2018. Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids. Surgical Neurology International, volume 9.
[xviii] Campos, A.C., Moreira, F.A., Gomes, F.V., et al., 2012. Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London Series B Biological Science, volume 367, number 1607, pages 3364-3378.
[xix] Couch, D.G., Cook, H., Ortori, C., et. al., 2019. Palmitoylethanolamide and cannabidiol prevent inflammation-induced hyperpermeability of the human gut in vitro and in vivo – A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind controlled trial. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, 25 (6).
[xx] Styrczewska, M., Kostyn, A, Kulma, A., et al., 2015. Flax fiber hydrophobic extract inhibits human skin cells inflammation and causes remodeling of extracellular matrix and wound closure activation. Biomedical Research International.
[xxi] Booz, G.W., 2012., Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, volume 5, number 5.
[xxii] Garamond, J.A., Whalley, B.J., and Williams, C.M., 2012. Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns. Psychopharmacology, volume 223, number 1, 117-129.
[xxiii] Ignatowska-Jankowska, B., Jankowski, M.M., and Swiergiel, A.H., 2011. Cannabidiol decreases body weight gain in rats: Involvement of CB2 receptors. Neuroscience Letters, 490, 82-84.
[xxiv] Cunha, R.Z., Felisardo, L.L., Salamanca, G., et. al., 2023. The use of cannabidiol as a novel treatment for oral stereotypic behavior (crib-biting) in a horse. Veterinary and Animal Science, 19(March), 100289. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vas.2023.100289.
[xxv] Tarragon, E., and Moreno, J.J., 2019. Cannabinoids, chemical senses, and regulation of feeding behavior. Chemical Senses, 44, 73-89.
[xxvi] Berk, K., Konstantynowicz-Nowicka, K., Charytoniuk, T., et. al., 2022. Distinct effects of cannabidiol and sphingolipid metabolism in subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissues derived from high-fat-diet-fed male Wistar rats. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 23, 5382.
[xxvii] Landa, L., Trojan, V., Demlova, R., et. al., 2022. Cannabidiol and the possibilities of its use in veterinary medicine of dogs and horses: A brief review. Veterinarni Medicina, 67(9), 455-462.
[xxviii] Alvarenga, I.C., Panicker, K.S., Hess, H., and McGrath, S., 2023. Scientific validation of cannabidiol for management of dog and cat diseases. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences, 11, 227-246. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-animal-081122-070236
[xxix] Tomsic, K., Rakinic, K., and Seliskar, A., 2022. Slovenian pet owners’ experience, attitudes, and predictors regarding cannabinoid use in dogs and cats. Frontiers of Veterinary Science, 8(January). https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2021.796673
[xxx] Cannabidiol interactions. https://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/cannabidiol.html
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