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I love to give you updates on cutting-edge drugs when they first come out. You may remember earlier columns on the newest flea and tick medicines or on the newest allergy medicines.
Today we are going to look at CBD oil. This is a derivative of medical cannabis. Cannabis is also known as hemp and marijuana. CBD oil is a derivative of the marijuana plant. It is low-THC cannabis known as hemp, which makes it part of the now legal medical marijuana class.
While human medicine has been experimenting with medical marijuana for several years, the passage of the Farm Bill of 2018 with the McConnell amendment has just opened the door for research to begin in the use of medical marijuana for animals.
There are several cannabinoids, each with a variety of uses. We will focus on CBD oil because it is currently being used in veterinary research.
One study performed at Colorado State University involving a population of 30 healthy research dogs receiving three formulations of CBD determined the oral CBD oil-infused formula has the best absorption rate. This study also documented the most common adverse effects when given CBD were diarrhea and elevations of the enzyme alkaline phosphatase. The significance of the elevated alkaline phosphatase is not known at this time. Other liver enzymes and bile acids remained normal.
Colorado also performed a limited study involving dogs with epilepsy. The good news is 67 percent of dogs involved had a greater than 40 percent reduction in the average number of monthly seizures when given CBD oil.
A Cornell University study involved safety and efficacy in dogs with osteoarthritis. There were no observable side effects in the dogs given CBD oil. Assessment of pain and mobility showed a significant reduction in pain and an increase in activity at weeks 2 and 4 during the treatment. Blood work did show elevations in the alkaline phosphatase in 56 percent of the dogs.
There is also promising historical evidence that cannabis can be used to destroy cancer cells, but controlled clinical trials do not exist at this time for humans let alone dogs or cats. Where cannabis has been successful in human cancer treatment is controlling the nausea that results from chemotherapy. It is particularly well suited to this because, in addition to stopping vomiting, it stimulates the appetite.
We are just beginning to scratch the surface of what CBD oil as a derivative of marijuana can do for the veterinary community. We may soon be using it for arthritis, epilepsy, cancer treatment and more. With time and continued research, we will begin to know how useful CBD oil may be.
In the meantime, if you are interested in CBD oil for your pet, please be understanding if your veterinarian does not have answers for you. This is a difficult road to navigate. Restrictions are still in place, and we veterinarians have not been trained to understand our role in its use.
Have a question for Dr. Johns? E-mail her at JohnsDVM@aol.com. Write to Pet Peeves, P.O. Box 2949, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32549. Johns is a Niceville veterinarian.