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It is the latest and greatest health craze for people and pets. Seemingly everywhere we look we can see signs like “CBD Oil Sold Here” in places ranging from health food stores to groom shops and virtually everything else in between. I even recently saw a CBD sidewalk sign in front of a tobacco store. So the big questions is, does this stuff really work or is it just snake oil? Many people ask me because they experience or hear about very conflicting results ranging from amazing effect moderate effect, to zero or even negative effect.
CBD stands for the essential oil component of the hemp plant that is known to have medicinal quality, called Cannabidiol. Cannabidiol, aka CBD, is not to be confused with Tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC, the component of the hemp plant known for its psychotropic qualities. It has been reported to have the ability to reduce pain and inflammation, reduce anxiety, aid in controlling seizure disorders, help to stimulate appetite, and more. The question remains if these claims are substantiated.
The answer to this questions is: it depends. CBD oil can indeed be little more than snake oil, the common slang term for a a substance with lofty claims but realistically has no real medicinal value yet sold as a remedy for all manners of disease. Without FDA oversight, one can never really know if a product has real pharmaceutical grade integrity, so like other nutraceutical products on the market, diligence in sorting out real versus bogus product is essential.
However. there is more to the CBD story. Even in cases where pets have been treated with known reputable CBD product, results are generally better, but are still inconsistent. The reason for this is because of a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect.”
The entourage effect refers to the increase in medicinal quality of CBD oil when a small percentage of THC is added to the solution. This is clinically proven fact with concise data predominantly coming out of Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine that proves it. The exact mechanism by which the entourage effect works is difficult to explain (and not yet fully understood), but the working theory is that the addition of THC seems to increase the affinity of the body’s receptors to the healing compounds within CBD. It only takes a small amount to trigger the entourage effect, generally not enough to cause any psychotropic side effects in dogs and cats.
Thus, in order to really give CBD an honest chance, below are some basic guidelines to follow:
- If you want to try an OTC CBD oil product to start with, do your best to make certain it is pharmaceutical grade. If in doubt, at least check product reviews and ask your vet’s opinion if he/she is knowledgeable about CBD.
- If the product has any negative effects, discontinue, as there could be an allergy one or more of the cannabidiols in the product.
- If an OTC CBD product has zero effect, if your veterinarian has access to CBD with an appropriate small percentage of THC added and it is legal in your state, give it a try to see if the entourage effect will provide a more effective medicinal benefit.
- At the risk of sounding judgmental, I think it would be generally ill advised to purchase CBD oil from the aforementioned tobacco store.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.