As a veterinarian (and a big fan of actual science!), I have been very cautious about using or recommending any form of marijuana (Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and hybrids) for pets.
Dogs and cats can become extremely ill from consuming marijuana. They are highly sensitive to the psychoactive component, THC, which interferes with neurotransmitter function. Marijuana toxicity is a serious and growing problem in pets, especially in states where medical and/or recreational marijuana is legal; the strains of the plant used for this purpose are extremely potent. “Edibles” may be very attractive to pets, and therefore pose a particular problem.
Although I have reserved judgment thus far, I have done a great deal of research, and am happy to now pass along to you what I have learned about products derived from the Cannabis plant.
Not Your Granny’s Cannabis!
First, let me say that, for those of us who grew up in the 60s but have been out of the loop for a while… today’s weed is not even remotely like the old Panama Red, Maui Wowie, or Acapulco Gold we had back then. We had to pick out the seeds and stems to get to the good stuff. But today’s pot is nothing but fat buds bursting with crystals of THC. When I was using medical marijuana a few years ago, I made a 9×13″ pan of brownies and cut it into 80 pieces. EIGHTY! And one tiny piece was plenty… the one time I accidentally ate two, I got so dizzy and sick I thought about calling 911!
So, the #1 rule is: NEVER EVER give your cat or dog any portion or derivative of an actual marijuana plant: no smoke, no tincture, no greenery, no extract, no edible, no bud. Always keep it locked away and completely inaccessible to pets (and children!).
On the other hand, the veterinary profession is extremely interested in the non-THC elements of the marijuana plant. These “cannabinoids” are natural plant compounds, or phytochemicals, in the plant. It turns out that these are abundant in “industrial” hemp, but without the THC. In fact, the distinction between THC-containing marijuana and industrial hemp is the amount of THC: hemp has less than 0.3% THC–anything more than that makes it a drug. (Please note that even in states where it’s legal, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug by federal standards, and the DEA can still bust you for it.) Hemp oil (< 0.3% THC) was legalized by Congress in all 50 states, in the 2014 Farm Bill. A growing number of veterinarians are recommending hemp oil for pets; in fact, there is even a veterinarian-formulated product solely for them!
Differences Between Marijuana and Hemp
You may know that both hemp and marjiuana come from the exact same species of plant, Cannabis sativa. This plant has been cultivated since the dawn of agriculture 10,000 years ago. But industrial hemp is a world away from the medicinal and recreational varieties. It’s tremendously useful for fiber, seeds, and oil. There’s hemp clothing, hemp towels, hemp paper, hemp protein powder, hempseed Omega-3 oil, and even hemp furniture!
Cannabidiol (CBD), is one of the active constituents of the cannabis plant. There are more than 100 cannabinoids in
the Cannabis plant, but the ones of primary interest to the healing arts are the cannabidiols (CBDs); in particular, CBD1 and CBD2. CBD1 receptors are found primarily in the brain, and CBD2 in other parts of the body. (There are also CBNs, CBGs, CBEs, CBTs, and a host of other cannabinoids, including 12 forms of THC… just in case you were wondering!) It’s also interesting to note that other plants, including flax, black pepper, lavender, and echinacea, also produce cannabinoid-type compounds, just not at the same levels as hemp.
Most CBD products are derived from industrial hemp, and you may see them called CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp-derived CBD oil, CBD-rich cannabis oil, or similar names. (But beware that a few also contain high levels of THC–avoid these for pets!)
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
Did you ever wonder why certain herbs can affect the body? After all, plants and animals are pretty different! Sure, plants are nutritious to eat, but why should a compound made by a plant for its own use work on animals?
The reason is that animal bodies make very similar compounds to many plant components. Fortunately for us, in the plant (“phyto-“)form can work just as well as the chemicals made within the body. (The prefix “endo-” means “within.”)
Mammals, birds, fishes, clams, and snails all make their own cannabinoids and, of course, have cannabinoid receptors. This system has been conserved through more than 500 million years of evolution, suggesting that it serves an important and basic physiologic function.
Mammals produce at least five known endocannabidoids. Most are made from arachidonic acid, which you may have heard of because it’s an essential Omega-6 fatty acid in cats. It’s involved in cell membrane fluidity, neurologic function, and structure of the brain.
The body’s own endocannabinoids help regulate many processes in many parts of the body, including:
- Immune System
CBDs from hemp are similar in structure to human, feline, and canine endocannabinoids, and can react with the body in a similar way. High CBD hemp oil provides safe, natural endocannabinoid system support for the body.
Hemp oil also contains the anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, which is important for skin health.
Hemp Oil and Digestion
Being a lipid (fat) molecule, CBD does not dissolve in water but is repelled by it. But like any other fat, it can be digested. This starts right in the mouth, where saliva contains the fat-digesting enzyme lipase that chewing can mix with the food (for those few dogs and cats who actually chew their food!).
In any case, as soon as the oil reaches the small intestine, bile salts secreted by the liver emulsify into small bits so that pancreatic lipase can continue the digestion process. Eventually, tiny droplets of lipid and bile molecules are absorbed into the intestinal lining cells. There, they undergo further processing, and are released into tiny lymph channels, where they travel up through the lymphatic system. The lymph eventually gets dumped into the bloodstream in the chest. And only there do the digested lipids finally enter the bloodstream.
Why do I go into such excruciating detail about this? Because most CBD/hemp oils are taken by mouth, and the oil has to go through all of that processing before it gets into the bloodstream and affects the body. That’s why many products’ doses are very high—very little of the active ingredients ever make it to the cells; so you have to take a bunch of it to get an effect.
Fortunately, there is another option!
What I Discovered
Some substances, especially oils, can cross directly into the bloodstream across skin or mucous membranes. One of the most effective methods of transport is “liposomes” (“little fat bodies”). Liposomes are little man-made phospholipid packets that mimic a cell membrane. They can be so tiny that they can slip through the normal barriers, and pop right into the blood and lymphatic systems for immediate delivery throughout the body, including the brain.
Liposomes can be made in many sizes and forms. Smaller packets are much better absorbed than larger ones. Most CBD and hemp oil products that use liposomes are 200-600 nm (nanometers) in diameter; but research has shown that smaller liposomes, 50-120 nm, are far better absorbed. In fact, they can be absorbed right through the mucous membranes of the mouth, totally avoiding stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and protective gut lining cells.
The 90% absorption of liposomal CBD hemp oil, compared to 20% absorption from other oral products (liquids or capsules), allows for a higher effective dose with a much smaller volume, making it very cost-effective.
Now that I’ve done my homework and tried a CBD-rich hemp oil myself for several months, I’m comfortable in making the following recommendations regarding purchase and use of such a product for both people and pets.
- Purity. The product must be made without using heat or chemical solvents.
- Safety. Do not buy any product containing or made from imported hemp. The U.S. has very strict regulations, and products grown and produced here will be the best quality. I can’t say the same for other countries!
- Quality. High-CBD hemp oil is definitely an example of “you get what you pay for.” Cheap hemp oils will not be effective.
- Sustainably grown. As with any profitable crop, hemp growers may use a variety of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. Organic is great, but there is an even better method. “Biodynamic” farming principles pre-date, and go far beyond, organic. The intent of biodynamic farming is to “restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.”
- Liposomal delivery system, with a particle size of 100 nm or less. This allows the bioactive components to be absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth, avoiding all the pitfalls and loss through digestion, thereby getting the maximum benefit from the oil.
I Found It!
After looking at a jillion products, the one I chose–the one I believe is the best on the market–is PrimeMyBody (PMB) Nano-Enhanced Hemp Oil. It comes in an opaque glass spray bottle (because oils rapidly degrade in the presence of light). For humans, the typical dose is 4 spritzes, or pumps, a day (1 spritz 4 times a day, or 2 spritzes twice a day). Squirt between gums and lips or cheeks. Hold the liquid in your mouth for at least 30 seconds for maximum absorption (90 seconds is best).
PrimeMyBody’s high-CBD hemp oil is formulated by Dr. Christopher Shade, a world-renowned expert on mercury and heavy metal toxicity, environmental chemistry, and detoxification. He was even an organic farmer, so his expertise and experience came together perfectly when he formulated these products.
PMB is easy to take, and easy to give to animals. It is given by the sublingual (under the tongue) or buccal (inside of the cheek) route. It need not be swallowed. For some pets, the taste might be a little too strong; in that case, you can rub a few drops of the oil on the inside of the ear to get the same effects.
My Personal Experience
Let me tell you what I’ve experienced with this product.
After I had been taking it for a few days, I hadn’t notice anything earth-shattering changes in how I felt. About the 4th day, I got a piercing headache, so I grabbed the bottle and gave myself a couple of spritzes. Within 30 seconds, I kid you not, it was just gone, and I felt fine. I thought to myself, “Oh geez, that is just not physically possible!” But when I thought about the speed of absorption into the bloodstream, how fast blood moves around the body with each heartbeat, and the instantaneous nature of biological reactions at the sub-microscopic level… then it made perfect sense! For body aches or sore knees, it takes a few minutes but works just as well.
A few weeks later I had the “opportunity” to test if this product can really be absorbed through the skin. I say that in quotes because it felt much more like stupidity than opportunity at the time! Long story short, I strained my back moving some heavy boxes–I used proper posture, bent knees, and all, but still, the next day… ouch! I was stiff and could barely move. I put a couple of teaspoons of coconut oil in a small jar, mixed in about 3 spritzes of hemp oil, mushed it up, and applied about a teaspoon of the mixture to the sore area. Again, the relief was amazing… within 15 or 20 minutes, it felt much better, and subsequently healed very well.
Personally, I take a one or two pumps, two or three times a day. Whenever some little owwie gets my attention, I take two or three spritzes. I don’t have to resort to medication, which I would have before I found this product. Although the primary effects diminish after several hours, I find that once the original problem is taken care of, and that neurological wind-up effect is gone, the relief lasts the rest of the day. I’ve never had to take more than the recommended 4 spritzes in a day.
For cats, I use just a couple of drops, rubbed into the hairless inside ear flap. The liposomes allow this to be absorbed through the skin, right into the bloodstream, almost as efficiently as across mucous membranes. And it’s great for dogs, too! I would use it twice a day for pets.
These experiences made me an absolute believer in PrimeMyBody! It’s very rare to get such quick, dramatic responses from anything other than an intravenous injection, so I am quite pleased and amazed!
I know so many people who are trying CBD oils for themselves and their pets, and seeing some benefits. That’s great! I just want to share what I discovered so that they can be helped even more by using a really powerful liposomal product like PrimeMyBody. It has great health benefits, and your pets will not get high (or sick) from their nano-enhanced Hemp oil.
PMB NanoEnhanced Hemp Oil is made with the highest quality hemp strains, responsibly grown by farmers who adhere to the strictest standards of biodynamic farming. It uses a super-critical, CO2 extraction process that yields all of the synergistic CBD and other natural compounds derived from the stalks and stems of the industrial hemp plant. There is no heat used, and no solvents involved, in, its production. It is non-psychoactive, it’s completely safe for daily consumption, and it’s made using an industry-leading phospholipid encapsulation system—providing rapid uptake and extremely high bioavailability. It contains double the cannabidiols as its nearest competitor. This allows for maximum effects from a very small dose, making it cost-effective as well.
Here’s Dr. Shade explaining the process in a short Facebook video.
For a much more in-depth video explaining all the science, click here.
For more information on how to get and use PMB for you and your pets, please visit http://drjean.primemybody.com/home/ — or email me at infoATlittlebigcatDOTcom.