This commentary is not a single question, as I have received hundreds of questions about CBD over the last few years. I have been hesitating to comment, as I have been waiting for more information and most importantly research. I cannot wait any longer, and I suspect I will address this issue at other times in the future also.
Answer: CBD (cannabidiol)is an extract from the Cannabis plant that is different from but in the same family as the Marijuana plant. Marijuana is illegal due to its high levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which are psychoactive. CBD is non-psychoactive and may help to block the “high” associated with THC. CBD has less than 0.3% THC, which the 2018 Farm Bill considers negligible, and therefore has been removed from the controlled substances law.
I normally ask that nutraceutical products have medical research, not just testimonials, before I comment on them. But so many people are asking that it is time to begin the discussion. CBD is a natural product that has anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure, and calming properties, and some veterinary research is starting to support these claims. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6065210/ Yes, I have seen antidotal testimonies, but the research is starting to back this up. More research is being done for other uses, and I look for results in the near future. But to be clear as of this article there are currently no approved animal drugs that are derived from cannabis, or are related to cannabis.
Knowing the above, lots of companies are promoting CBD for pets. What should you know? Just like many things, all CBD products are not the same, and the BUYER MUST BEWARE. Underwriter’s Laboratories independently identified 20 supposed CBD products sold thru discount distributors that had no CBD at all, and were in fact Olive oil.
You also need to be aware of the extraction process from the Hemp leaf. There are 3 methods: ethylene, CO2, and MCT. Ethylene is inexpensive, but residues are toxic. CO2 is more expensive but much safer, and MCT is still being developed but has promise. The temperature that extraction occurs at is also important, as over 120 degrees denatures the CBD. You should also make sure your product has been purified and not contain any bacteria, mites, mold or mildew. All of these parameters add to the cost of production but also improve effect and safety.
To further complicate things, CBD comes in 3 forms: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolates. The general consensus is that full spectrum is the most effective. This means that all 300 + components of the extraction are included (one of these is CBD). I suspect that with further research, we will see some customized broad spectrum or some multiple isolates that will have some specific benefits.
The American Veterinary Association (AVMA) has advocated for improved access to cannabis for research and has encouraged those wanting to market cannabis and its derived or related products for therapeutic use, or as a component of animal food, to work with FDA to gain approval for their products. Good news is that the result of the 2018 Farm Bill may make it easier for researchers to study cannabis and its derivatives that fall under the definition of ‘hemp’, including CBD.
As soon as it became legal to dispense CBD products, we started recommending a CBD that had scientific backed research in the veterinary field, which was tested as pure and safe, and had calculated animal dosing. We paid more for this type of product, but we can guarantee it is not olive oil. I like the research behind this product, and now that we have been using it for 2 years, I can say that I have seen many pets benefit, and hope to recommend it for other uses in the future. But again not all CBD oil is alike.
Before considering CBD for your pet consult with your veterinarian. And by all means check out all CBD oils and their ingredients. It is the wild, wild west out there. And just like the dog food industry, marketing CBD has outpaced the research.
Natural products are important to me, and I look forward to the future of CBD, and am planning on keeping you updated. Also, check out our podcast for a deeper discussion on CBD products.