Cannabinoids balance the activity of multiple body systems in all mammals.
Hemp is trending as an ingredient in both human and animal supplements but it’s far more than just a fad. Research is showing us many uses for this versatile plant.
In his extensive review of the endocannabinoid system of animals, Robert Silver states “Our understanding of the Endocannabinoid System of animals, and its ubiquitous presence in nearly all members of Animalia, has opened the door to novel approaches ….” 1
The affinity of hemp’s phytocannabinoids for receptors in the endocannabinoid system fit perfectly with the goal of holistic natural treatments in supporting health by promoting homeostasis. Homeostasis refers to a balance between “pro” and “anti” forces in the body’s reactions. Endocannabinoids are an integral part of the homeostatic mechanism which operates in tissues at the local level. 2 Instead of blocking or disrupting the body’s reactions, they support the body’s natural response of balancing using endogenous pathways.
Gamble studied the oral bioavailability and kinetics of cannabidiol (CBD) in oil given to dogs. 3 No side effects were noted, with no changes in blood counts or serum chemistry over a 4 week treatment period. A significant improvement in movement was observed. Hemp phytocannabinoids are perfectly positioned as a new addition to established joint support ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid because of their unique mode of action. They are also compatible with commonly used herbs such as Devil’s Claw and bring a new dimension to the mechanism of action of these supplements.
Although pet animal research remains to be published, owners are reporting use of hemp phytocannabinoids for calming their animals. 4 While the companion animal studies are lagging, there are over 1,000 published articles on this application for phytocannabinoids. 5 Separation distress, fear of loud noises and unusual situations or people are significant issues in dogs.
There is even an established potential role for phytocannabinoids in skin irritations.6 This is consistent with the known role of cannabinoid receptors in modulating skin reactions in other species.
Cannabinoid rich products have similar applications in horses. In addition, hemp seed hulls are being used as a high fiber, low simple carbohydrate feed ingredient. Fiber from the hemp plant may be used as a bedding. Hemp seed meal is receiving interest as a plant-based protein supplement with documented high digestibility. 7
The future looks bright for hemp as a functional ingredient; not because it’s trendy, but because a growing body of knowledge is showing how beneficial it can be in a wide range of applications.
1. Silver RJ. “The endocannabinoid system of animals”. Animals (Basel). 2019 Sep 16;9(9). pii: E686. doi: 10.3390/ani9090686.
2. Szabady SL et al. “Intestinal P-glycoprotein exports endocannabinoids to prevent inflammation and maintain homeostasis”. J Clin Invest. 2018 Aug 31;128(9):4044-4056. doi: 10.1172/JCI96817.
3. Gamble LJ et al. “Pharmacokinetics, safety and clinical efficacy of cannabidiol treatment of osteoarthritic dogs”. Front Vet Sci. 2018 Jul 23;5:165. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00165.
4. Kogan LR et al. “Canadian dog owners’ use and perception of cannabis products”. Can Vet J. 2019 Jul;60(7):749-755.
5. Shannon S et al. “Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: a large case series”. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041. doi: 10.7812/TPP/18-041.
6. Campora L et al. “Cannabinoid receptor type 1 and 2 expression in the skin of healthy dogs and dogs with atopic dermatitis”. Am J Vet Res. 2012 Jul;73(7):988-95. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.73.7.988.
7. Mattila P et al. “Nutritional value of commercial protein-rich plant products”. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2018 Jun;73(2):108-115. doi: 10.1007/s11130-018-0660-7.