The use of CBD oil has been a recent major health trend for both humans and pets. But is this trend just a matter of clever marketing? Or is there any research to back up the use of this product?
It turns out that CBD oil, also known as cannabidiol, has been well researched to provide a variety of health benefits thanks to the role the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) plays in many vital life processes. This system includes receptors, transmitters, and special enzymes helps to regulate mood, metabolism, sleep, pain, inflammation, and skin health.
While veterinary research into CBD oil for dogs is still in the early phases, much scientific research has been done on tissues, laboratory animals, and even humans. In addition, we know that canines share an ECS that functions similarly to that of humans. In additions, those veterinarians that have used CBD in their clinical practices have seen real results in many of their furry patients.
Here are a five of the most researched potential benefits of CBD oil:
1. Pain and Inflammation
One of the most researched aspects of cannabidiol is its ability to reduce both pain and inflammation. This is particularly important for owners of senior dogs who often suffer from joint pain from natural aging processes and/or degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis.
In fact, one study showed that just 2mg per kg of CBD oil administered twice daily significantly improved mobility of dogs who suffered from osteoarthritis. Another study showed that the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are so powerful that they may even slow the progression of this debilitating disease.
In addition, the use of CBD may allow for less use of other pain medications since this natural compound seems to enhance their effect. This is great news for pet owners, many of whom are becoming aware of the potential dangers of long term use of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are the most common treatment for chronic joint pain and OA in canines.
The ECS also plays a role in regulating mood, and this is particularly true when it comes to anxiety. Although cannabis based medicine has long been understood to help some patients with PTSD, for example, the psychoactive or “high” that medical marijuana induces keeps many patients from being able to enjoy the anxiety reducing effect of this plant family. Since THC is potentially toxic to dogs in large doses, this is especially true for them.
This has made CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in the low THC strain of cannabis known as hemp, a subject of much research as to its now well-known anti-anxiety properties. Although much of the research has been done on humans with anxiety disorders such as social anxiety, PTSD, and OCD, the compound seems to have a calming effect on dogs as well.
Of course, we don’t use the same terms to talk about anxiety in our furry friends. However, professional dog trainers and animal behaviorists agree that many common dog issues have anxiety and fear as their root, including: many forms of dog aggression, phobias such as fear of cars and thunderstorms, and separation anxiety.
Some dog trainers have found that using CBD oil in combination with positive reinforcement based training programs can drastically improve such anxiety related dog behaviors.
One of the most interesting findings of cannabis based research over the last few decades is that the gut is packed full of endocannabinoid receptors. In fact, the ECS plays a major role in maintaining homeostasis, or balance, in the digestive system.
It does this in several ways. First, the ECS regulates gut motility, in other words, the movement from the beginning to end of the digestive tract. Second, it appears to maintain the intestinal barrier, critical for keeping the gut lining in good health. Finally, it seems to play a vital role in the brain-gut axis, a pathway that is implicated in immune function and metabolism.
It should be no surprise then to find out that CBD is under current study as a potential therapy for a variety of digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Although not yet studied specifically in dogs, many holistic veterinarians have found it to be effective with a variety of digestive related issues in dogs including excessive gas, diarrhea, constipation, appetite problems, and sensitive stomachs.
4. Healthy Skin
Dry and itchy skin in dogs is a common problem with many potential causes including food sensitivities, autoimmune diseases, and allergic reactions to chemicals, flea or tick bites, and even pollen. It is important that if your dog is experiencing persistent patches of dry, flaky, or inflamed areas of skin to visit your veterinarian to rule out more serious conditions that may need immediate treatment.
Because skin tissue is actually regulated by the Endocannabinoid System, CBD oil has been well researched as a potential therapy for several skin conditions. It works by activating the channels that regulate the growth and death of skin cells as well as the lipid production that keeps skin moist and healthy.
This is great news since skin problems can be difficult to diagnose and treat without potentially harmful long-term use of corticosteroids and immune suppressing pharmaceuticals. As a result, your vet may recommend CBD oil which can be safely given orally or applied topically to help with dry and itchy skin.
CBD is not a cure for cancer, despite some internet hype to the contrary. However, there is quite a bit of research to support the use of cannabidiol as part of a cancer treatment program in several types of cancer, including: leukemia, lung cancer, breast cancer, glioma, pancreatic cancer, and colon cancer.
Cannabidiol seems to work in several ways to enhance some cancer treatment protocols. First, CBD oil has been shown to reduce tumor size by activating specific pathways that inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Second, CBD has been shown in some studies to improve the action of chemotherapy agents by sensitizing cells to this common form of cancer treatment. Finally, CBD also appears to help with several of the more problematic side effects of cancer therapy, including reduced appetite, nausea, and pain.
Of course, it is imperative that if your canine companion is undergoing cancer treatment to consult with your veterinarian about the possible use of CBD as part of a targeted cancer treatment program. This is particularly important since CBD is known to interact with some pharmaceutical drugs.