There’s been an explosion of interest in hemp and cannibidiol–better known as CBD–in just the past few years. The reason for this is that much of the research in hemp (Cannabis sativa) is still fairly young. Only in the last 25 years or so have researchers begun to understand what is known as the endocannabinoid system or “ECS”. But what has been discovered is that hemp cannabinoids preserve the natural cannabinoids that all of us – humans and canines alike – are born with. And that means that hemp can reduce pain and inflammation, relieve stress, prevent dermatitis, and a lot more.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is much like the nervous system or the digestive system. It contains natural compounds and receptors for those compounds that affect pain, anxiety, skin, digestion, and virtually every aspect of health in humans and canines.
Two of the major, naturally-occurring cannabinoid compounds are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonyl glycerol, best known as “2-AG.” These compounds interact with receptors called CB1 and CB2. CB1 is generally considered the “mind receptor”, a landing point for cannabinoids to regulate stress, anxiety, depression, and epilepsy. CB2 is considered more of a “body receptor”. Its interaction with cannabinoids affects digestion, skin, muscles, and joints. And as I stated earlier, hemp compounds, especially CBD, help preserve and protect the endocannabinoid system in humans and canines.
Stress, Skin, and Behavior
In canines, the ECS is quite similar, although both CB1 and CB2 receptors are also found throughout all of the epidermal layers. When canines are under stress, it not only affects their behavior, it also affects their skin– which probably sets up a spiral of anxiety, itching, and other behaviors because of their discomfort.
In fact, atopic dermatitis alone may account for a number of negative behaviors in dogs, including excitability, begging for food, chewing, and coprophagia (poop eating)– just to name a few. I think that if hemp cannabinoids can rebuild and restore your best friend’s own endocannabinoids and stop a cycle of stress, skin issues, and other behaviors and symptoms, it’s definitely worth it.
It’s important to note that there is a lot that can reduce natural endocannabinoid levels –poor diets, lack of omega-3s (which is another reason I also recommend a good omega-3 supplement as part of a daily canine regimen), stress, and enzyme activity in the body.
Older dogs tend to have lower CB1 receptor activity in the brain than younger dogs, which is not unusual, but still shows that it may be very helpful to get hemp cannabinoids into your best friend’s regimen no matter what their age. If your dog is older, it can help keep those levels higher. If you have a puppy, it can help keep them in optimal physical shape and keep them mentally sharp.
Osteoarthritis and Pain
In clinical human studies of the endocannabinoid system and arthritis, researchers have found that our own natural cannabinoids, including anandamide and 2-AG, are concentrated at higher levels in joint fluid in cases of arthritis. It is as though the body floods the joint tissue with those compounds in order to fight the inflammation and damage.
It turns out that this is also the case for canines. Researchers found that the synovial fluid of dogs with knee osteoarthritis had significantly higher levels of anandamide and 2-AG when compared to unaffected joints.
In another study, CBD from hemp significantly reduced pain and increased activity in dogs with osteoarthritis in just two weeks into the four-week trial, with no reported side effects. That’s considerably better than the complications of steroid drugs and other anti-inflammatories.
And while there is still much to be sorted out with CBD and veterinary treatments, a survey published in the journal Frontiers of Veterinary Science found that 90 percent of the veterinarians responding found that CBD was helpful for chronic pain and 83 percent for acute pain. So even though practitioners may feel like they want to know more about hemp and CBD before they recommend it, it is clearly making a difference.
Laboratory research has found that CBD stops cells associated with rheumatoid arthritis activity and helps heal fractures by stimulating osteoblasts, the bone-building cells that add strength and structure to the skeleton and joints.
Some of the most powerful research regarding hemp and CBD came about because of the compound’s effect on epilepsy and seizures in humans.
A trial study showed that dogs in the CBD group had 33 percent fewer seizures compared to the placebo group. While researchers acknowledge that additional work is needed in order to refine dosage levels, any reduction of difficult-to-treat seizures is certainly a relief for these canines –and their human companions.
Anecdotally, 75 percent of the veterinarians in the survey I mentioned earlier found that CBD was helpful in treating seizures, epilepsy, and stress.
CBD: Natural Medicine For Your Best Friend
There has been an incredible advancement in just the past few years in the science surrounding hemp and CBD, and I think it is only going to become more defined in the very near future. In the meantime, I believe that properly sourced hemp oil with CBD and a broad spectrum of compounds can be essential to helping fight disease and preserving the health of your dog every day.
I recommend a daily hemp supplement that provides a full spectrum of cannabinoids, including CBD.