Cannabidiol (CBD)

There has been a lot of hype these days about the use of CBD as an adjunctive treatment option for many ailments. This promising molecule is derived from the Hemp plant of the cannabis family and for many decades its use has been regulated under the controlled substances act. However, CBD extracted from the Hemp plant has very little to no THC, which is the compound that causes the psycho-stimulating effects normally attributed to marijuana, and can be legally sold in certain states as long as it contains less that 0.3% of the THC. With the changes in the regulatory environment and the recognition of the potential efficacy of this molecule, there is renewed interest in its scientific study. At the moment there are multiple clinical trials in human and veterinary medicine regarding the multiple applications of this molecule and the results are very promising.

CBD stimulates the endocannabinoid system present in multiple organs of mammals including humans and pets. This system is very active in the process of homeostasis, which consists of returning things to normal function. Since the CBD receptors are present in almost every important organ, the potential benefits of this molecule are extensive. Currently it is commonly used in supporting the treatment of epilepsy, most inflammatory and painful conditions like arthritis, as well as cognitive and other anxiety disorders.

At the moment CBD is not regulated by the FDA. Subsequently, it can be treated as a supplement and can be found in multiple forms such as oils, treats, gummies, creams, etc. This has created a large amount of confusion for consumers who are interested in the benefits of CBD but don’t have the information regarding quality, dosing, better presentation, and possible side effects. This is made worse by the lack of regulation in the supplement industry. A 2015 study found that about 25% of all CBD products tested didn’t have any or enough CBD in them, or have other undesirable elements like heavy metals, pesticides, etc.

Based on the information currently available, the best delivery method for CBD is in oil form, which is extracted by applying CO2 pressure to the plant. This also allows for the extraction of other molecules, called Terpenes, which participate in the general benefits of CBD. These oils are more bioavailable when absorbed by the mucous membranes, therefore the best administration method is by putting it under the tongue.

It seems that most of the current studies about the efficacy are being done with doses that are much higher than the current recommendations for most commercial products, so I believe that we will see some dose adjustments as we learn more from these studies. For this reason, it is important to know the concentration of the oil available for purchase since this varies greatly among producers; the higher the concentration the more cost efficient it becomes.

I am very excited about the potential applications of this molecule in veterinary medicine, and even though I strongly support its use, I don’t think it is a panacea to all diseases as some people claim and feel that your veterinarian should be included in the conversation of when and how to administer this therapeutic option.

Feel free to reach out to us at Worth Street Veterinary Center if you would like to learn more about the applications of CBD or to find out if your pet may benefit from it.

– Dr. Francisco DiPolo, DVM, CVA, CCRT, USDA Accredited

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