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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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From Our Holistic Vet: Hemp Product Use in Veterinary Medicine

Over the past few decades veterinary medicine has seen an explosion of natural products, which include various nutritional therapies, herbal supplements and the use of homeopathic remedies. The growth of this well needed service in veterinary medicine has also found its way to the human medical field as well. There is not more of an exciting and growing nutraceutical in this arena than the use of Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a non-psychoactive component of the industrial hemp plant. It produces many positive effects in the body through multiple molecular pathways.

The hemp plant has been consumed by humans for thousands of years and revered for its health benefits over that vast period of time. The plant is composed of a chemical mixture that includes what are called phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, steroids (natural) and enzymes. Unlike the sister plant marijuana, the hemp plant contains insubstantial amounts of THC, and for this reason is non-psychotropic, and is grown legally in the United States. Through research over the decades, it has been found that the body produces its own cannabinoids involved in the maintenance of bodily health known as endocannabinoids. This “Endocannabinoid System” in the body has very important and specific functions, as regards the nervous system repair and maintenance, pain management, immune system function, cancer growth and even more, as receptors which the cannabinoids bind to exist not only in the nervous system, but also in the digestive tract, cardiovascular system, and skin. Researchers have shown the biological and beneficial effects of the hemp plant are actually the result of all of the individual chemical components of the plant working together in concert to create a unified result, rather than when the plant was isolated and/or broken down to its individual chemical constituents. In other words, the WHOLE full spectrum oil is truly the ACTIVE and beneficial form of the plant to both humans and animals.

Clinical reports from veterinarians and clients, regarding the use of the hemp plant support its value for a wide variety of health benefits including reducing anxiety, mild to moderate pain relief, neurologic support (including helping with seizure management, even in pets on conventional anticonvulsant medications), as well as in pet hospice care, in terms of quality of life management, and at end of life comfort. Relative to cancer, its use has also help with palliation of pain management associated with cancer, as well as maintaining and/or increasing appetite. As the hemp plant has been increasingly used we have seen it effective for both acute and chronic pain, as part of a comprehensive pain management plan, not to mention a mild immunosuppressive effect which can be helpful in all sorts of chronic, immune mediated disease seen in today’s companion animal. With various neurodegenerative diseases seen in both aging human and companion animals, CBD may help as an antioxidant and in slowing down the disease process. Other potential anti inflammatory effects may be helpful in management of the increasing numbers of pets being diagnosed with pancreatitis and diabetes. And not many people are aware that CBD has potential anti-bacterial effects including against MERSA. The cancerous proliferation of certain tumor cell lines has also been reduced with many diverse cancers according to client and veterinary anecdotal reports.

With all of the wonderful benefits of CBD oil it is not surprising that more and more CBD oil products are increasingly available on the internet and from many multi-level marketing suppliers. HOWEVER, NOT all CBD oil products are created the same, and this is a type of product where one cannot truly cut corners in cost; the more expensive products tend to be the better ones. The first and most important aspect is how the hemp is grown, in terms of trustworthiness and purity. Because the hemp plant’s roots pull toxic substances from the soil such as heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, crude oil and even radiation, it is critical that the hemp product of choice is grown organically and Farm Bill compliant for safety. The hemp should be tested for heavy metal content and pesticides as well as THC, all which should be at minimal levels. The hemp should be tested for CBD content and terpenes, the latter which indicates that the hemp product is a full spectrum, whole hemp plant essential oil. In addition to a quality source CBD product as outlined above, it is also important to realize that the hemp oil is easily heat damaged during the extraction process from the plant. The damage incurred during the heat processing of cheaper or inferior quality products often damages the key phytonutrients in the whole plant as well as significantly reduces the beneficial effects of the CBD. “Cold pressed” technology of harvesting the oil seems to be the most effective way of maintaining the quality and purity of the CBD oil product. And as mentioned above, any product which offers only CBD isolate components of the plant is not nearly as helpful as products utilizing a proper combination of whole-plant components. Finally, it is important to realize that many of the cheaper CBD oil products have a very poor absorption rate of around 10%, which can also affect the clinical benefits of the product. The liver also metabolizes most fat soluble substances like CBD into more inactive compounds. With new technologies the better CBD oil products increase bioavailability by protecting the product from harsh stomach acids, minimizing this metabolizing effect of the liver, and enhancing direct absorption into the blood stream.

Many hemp products are available from the holistic supportive line of OTC products from PetMeds®, and make an outstanding addition to any holistic preventative or treatment program.

Dr. Michael Dym, VMD