What is Cannabis Oil?
CBD oil contains CBD or Cannabidiol, which is one of over a hundred compounds found in the cannabis plant that belongs to a class of substances called cannabinoids. Whereas CBD is the major non-psychotropic component, THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the ingredient that produces mind-altering effects in users. Simply put, the health benefits of CBD oil cannot be overstated, and the evidence is not merely anecdotal but supported by research.
Before 2014, CBD was only available as a constituent of medical cannabis or cannabis oil, which typically has a high THC content, and while this remains a popular option, both legality issues and the unwanted high from THC led to the first CBD extracts from hemp. Cannabis extracts with high concentrations of THC are usually known by various names such as medical cannabis, medical marijuana, cannabis oil, marijuana oil, or THC oil, whereas extracts with high levels of CBD are commonly known as CBD oil, cannabidiol oil, hemp oil or CBD hemp oil.
What is the Difference Between Marijuana and Hemp?
Marijuana and hemp are merely different varieties of the cannabis plant. Hemp, otherwise known as industrial hemp is commonly used to produce textiles, clothing and rope and has a very high CBD content combined with a low THC content of typically less than 1%. These days, most manufacturers produce CBD products using hemp, as this significantly reduces the cost of production, as the THC need not be removed from the product. Marijuana, in contrast, has higher levels of THC, the chemical compound responsible for the “high” that marijuana users experience. Marijuana is used to produce medicinal marijuana or cannabis oil, often used by cancer patients and those experiencing extreme pain.
|Hemp (Cannabis Sativa)||Yes||Low THC (less than .03%)||No||Requires minimal care. Adaptable to grow in most climates.||Automobiles, body care, clothing, construction, food, plastic, etc.||Yes|
|Marijuana (Cannabis Indica)||Yes||High THC (between 5% and 35%)||Yes||Grown in carefully controlled environment||Medical and Recreational||Yes|
Differences explained in official terms.
Image Source: Ministry of Hemp
Sativa strains are typically taller, loosely branched and have long, narrow leaves. They are usually grown outdoors and can reach heights of up to 20 feet. Sativa plants typically have higher concentration of CBD enzymes, essentially causing no mind-altering effect. Indica strains are shorter, densely branched and have wider leaves. They are better suited for growing indoors. Indica plants contain higher THC content, which has an intoxicating effect of causing a “body buzz”.
*Many hybrids of these plants have been developed recently, so it is more important to examine the exact THC level of a plant rather than strictly categorizing them “sativa” or “indica”
What is the Difference Between CBD and THC?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is well known for its medicinal benefits, and Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is probably the most well known of the cannabinoids because of its psychotropic activity or psychoactive effect, causing a sensation of intoxication in users. These are two of over a hundred identified cannabinoid substances within the cannabis plant.
Cannabinoids vs Cannabis
Confused by the terminology? What is meant by cannabinoids and how do they differ from cannabis? Cannabinoids are a class of several chemical compounds that act on the cannabinoid receptors in cells that modify the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Cannabis, on the other hand, is a type of plant, of which marijuana and hemp are varieties.
The Endocannabinoid System
Cannabinoids manifest their effects in your body by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is generally speaking is a collection of cannabinoid receptors present on the surface of cells in various parts of the central nervous system, that respond to cannabinoid ‘agonists’, or chemical messengers. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for the psychological and physiological effects of cannabinoids, of which there are two types: endocannabinoids, which originate inside the body, 2-AG and anandamide are the two most significant endocannabinoids and exogenous cannabinoids which arise outside of the body, such as the THC and CBD in cannabis.
Is CBD Oil Legal in South Africa?
CBD, because of its lack of THC has been legal in South Africa since it first became available. However, in a landmark judgement on 18 September 2018, the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest court effectively decriminalised the cultivation, storage and use of cannabis in the privacy of one’s home, ruling that the prohibition of private cultivation, possession and consumption of the plant at home was unconstitutional. Before this, it was technically illegal, even for those using medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of diseases such as cancer. The ruling does, however, decriminalise the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, as previously many of those who used medicinal cannabis products to alleviate various symptoms, such as cancer patients, and those suffering from anxiety, PTSD, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, were technically doing so unlawfully.
How does CBD Oil Work?
CBD Oil works because it contains the exogenous cannabinoid CBD, and the human body contains an Endocannabinoid system, which according to the Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia “is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems.” Cannabinoids manifest their effects by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, that responds to cannabinoid ‘agonists’, or chemical messengers. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for the psychological and physiological effects of cannabinoids, of which there are two types: endocannabinoids, which originate inside the body, 2-AG and anandamide are the two most significant endocannabinoids and exogenous cannabinoids which arise outside of the body, such as the THC and CBD in cannabis.
Full Spectrum vs Isolate
In addition to the cannabinoid content of cannabis, are the related terpenes or isoprenoids. These are the fragrant oils that give the various strains their diverse range of aromas. Terpenes also bind to receptors in the brain to produce multiple beneficial effects. The relationship between cannabinoids and terpenes is sometimes called the “entourage effect“, and is one of the factors that differentiate the various strains. Many brands of CBD oil advertise a full terpene spectrum, which indicates that they have not extracted the terpenes from the product. Strictly speaking, full-spectrum in the context of CBD oil products refer to an extraction and processing method that has preserved the entire spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids in the original plant matter.
CBD isolate, on the other hand, is manufactured using a process whereby the manufacturers refine the raw hemp oil until only the CBD is left, leaving a highly pure single cannabinoid CBD, usually in a crystalline form, that is around 99.9% pure. Medical practitioners use isolates where they require only pure CBD, and the benefits of the rest of the spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are of no consequence.
There is still much we don’t know about CBD. More accurately, we know pretty much nothing definitive about CBD because of global bureaucratic minefields created by governments, and presumable BigPharma, across the world.
BigPharma at play? Cannabinoids from bacteria? In mid-September 2018, the Canadian cannabis producer Cronos and the biotechnology company Ginkgo Bioworks announced a partnership for the artificial production of cannabinoids. Using genetic engineering, this company, founded in 2009, has specialised in producing bacteria for industrial purposes. It wants to further develop this technology in the near future, into production of cannabinoids.
To date, there have been no rigorous scientific studies published on marijuana, or even the non-psychoactive CBD, as a treatment for pets with arthritis, seizures, anxiety, or any other medical conditions. But that may soon (hopefully) be changing, as a few studies are either in the planning stages or underway.
- Efficacy of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Epilepsy in Dogs (see: Colorado State University, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Efficacy of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Epilepsy in Dogs (Website));
- Efficacy of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Osteoarthritis in Dogs (see: Colorado State University, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Efficacy of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Osteoarthritis in Dogs (Website));
- CBD research is going to the dogs in quest to help pets (see: The Cannabist, CBD research is going to the dogs in quest to help pets (Article)).
The Entourage Effect
As with herbs and food, the benefits of the whole plant is what needs to be discussed when considering the use of CBD. One of the most important studies1 relating to full spectrum CBD oil took place at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Hadassah School in 2015. It compared the performance of a full spectrum extract with one that contained CBD only. The study concluded that full spectrum was more effective when fighting pain and inflammation.
This Israeli Team discovered that: “The therapeutic synergy observed with plant extracts results in the requirement for a lower amount of active components, with consequent reduced adverse effects.” To qualify, full-spectrum CBD oil contains a huge array of cannabinoids, terpenes and much more, oils or isolates with CBD only, are separated from other compounds in the plant.
While CBD on its own only is somewhat effective, the whole plant extract not only provided faster and better relief, the effects also lasted longer. Therefore, an increasing number of companies in the CBD industry are selling full spectrum CBD oil as a rule.
The entourage effect is the main reason behind the efficacy of whole plant extracts. There are over 100 ‘identified’ compounds in the cannabis (Cannabis Sativa (Wikipedia)) plant. While most of these compounds have their own therapeutic benefit, they combine synergistically to provide a far better performance than any single compound, including CBD.
What are the Health Benefits of CBD Oil?
The health benefits of CBD oil are numerous. It exhibits potent antioxidant, analgesic, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antipsychotic effects. It alleviates the cognitive decline associated with ageing, and it also reduces the risk of diabetes.
Studies show that CBD has a significant impact on various neurological and physiological disorders such as (to list be a few …):
|Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)||Anorexia||Anxiety||Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)|
|Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD)||Alzheimer’s||Arthritis||Bipolar|
|Insomnia||Migraine||Multiple Sclerosis (MS)||Muscular Dystrophy|
|Nausea||Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)||Osteoporosis||Pain|
|Parkinson’s||Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)||Phantom Limb||Schizophrenia|
The Therapeutic Effects of CBD Oil
A number of studies over the last two decades or more have reported that CBD has anti-seizure activity, reducing the severity of seizures in animal models. In addition, there have been a number of case studies and anecdotal reports suggesting that CBD may be effective in treating children with drug-resistant epilepsy.
- The Biology and Potential Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol (see: The Biology and Potential Therapeutic Effects of Cannabidiol, (NIH)).
CBD Oil for Pain Management
Cannabidiol, a non-euphoriant phytocannabinoid common in certain strains, shares neuroprotective effects with THC, inhibits glutamate neurotoxicity, and displays antioxidant activity greater than ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or tocopherol (vitamin E).
CBD additionally affects THC function by inhibiting first pass hepatic metabolism to the possibly more psychoactive 11-hydroxy-THC, prolonging its half-life, and reducing associated intoxication, panic, anxiety and tachycardia.
Additionally, CBD is able to inhibit tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) in its own right in a rodent model of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain 2 .
CBD Oil as an Anti-Inflammatory
Cannabinoids, the active components of Cannabis sativa, and endogenous cannabinoids mediate their effects through activation of specific cannabinoid receptors known as cannabinoid receptor 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2). The cannabinoid system has been shown both in vivo and in vitro to be involved in regulating the immune system through its immunomodulatory properties.
- Cannabinoids as a novel anti-inflammatory 3 .
CBD Oil as a Cancer Treatment
Collectively, the non-psychoactive plant-derived cannabinoid CBD exhibits pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative actions in different types of tumours and may also exert anti-migratory, anti-invasive, anti-metastatic and perhaps anti-angiogenic properties. On the basis of these results, evidence is emerging to suggest that CBD is a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread.
- Cannabidiol as a potential anticancer drug 4.
This study reveals that CBD inhibits angiogenesis by multiple mechanisms. Its dual effect on both tumour and endothelial cells supports the hypothesis that CBD has potential as an effective agent in cancer therapy.
- Cannabidiol inhibits angiogenesis by multiple mechanisms 5.
Altogether, these findings provide a novel mechanism underlying the anti-invasive action of cannabidiol and imply its use as a therapeutic option for the treatment of highly invasive cancers.
- Cannabidiol inhibits cancer cell invasion via upregulation of tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-1 6 .
CBD Oil as a Treatment for Anxiety and Insomnia
The main finding from this case study is that CBD oil can be an effective compound to reduce anxiety and insomnia secondary to PTSD. A review of the literature suggests some benefits from the use of CBD because of its anxiolytic and sleep-inducing effects.
- The effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder 7.
CBD Oil as a Treatment for Epilepsy
CBD treatment yielded a significant positive effect on seizure load. Most of the children (66/74, 89%) reported reduction in seizure frequency: 13 (18%) reported 75-100% reduction, 25 (34%) reported 50-75% reduction, 9 (12%) reported 25-50% reduction, and 19 (26%) reported <25% reduction. Five (7%) patients reported aggravation of seizures which led to CBD withdrawal. In addition, we observed improvement in behaviour and alertness, language, communication, motor skills and sleep.
- CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy 8 ;
Seven out of the eight epileptics receiving cannabidiol had improvement of their disease state, whereas only one placebo patient improved.
- Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol 9 .
CBD Oil as a Treatment for Arthritis
The data presented here indicate that local administration of CBD blocked OA pain. Prophylactic CBD treatment prevented the later development of pain and nerve damage in these OA joints. These findings suggest that CBD may be a safe, useful therapeutic for treating OA joint neuropathic pain.
- Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis 10 .
Taken together, these data show that CBD, through its combined immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory actions, has a potent anti-arthritic effect in CIA.
- The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis 11 .
What are the Side Effects of CBD?
Most importantly, CBD will not cause you to get “high” or experience a sensation of intoxication as it has a minimal level of THC, making it non-psychoactive. It will not adversely affect your sensory perception, reflexes, reaction time or your behaviour in general.
Is it Safe to Take CBD?
CBD is safe and non-toxic even at high dosages. According to CannLabs, a testing lab for cannabis products, there is no established lethal dosage of CBD, and interestingly, there have been no reported cases of CBD overdosage. This fact makes it a reliable means of pain management and seizure control.
Several studies suggest that CBD is non-toxic in non-transformed cells and does not induce changes on food intake, does not induce catalepsy, does not affect physiological parameters (heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature), does not affect gastrointestinal transit and does not alter psychomotor or psychological functions. Also, chronic use and high doses up to 1,500 mg/day of CBD are reportedly well tolerated in humans. Conversely, some studies reported that this cannabinoid can induce some side effects, including inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism, alterations of in vitro cell viability, decreased fertilization capacity, and decreased activities of p-glycoprotein and other drug transporters.
- Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa Constituent 12 .
In general, the often described favourable safety profile of CBD in humans was confirmed and extended by the reviewed research. The majority of studies were performed for treatment of epilepsy and psychotic disorders. Here, the most commonly reported side effects were tiredness, diarrhoea, and changes of appetite/weight. In comparison with other drugs, used for the treatment of these medical conditions, CBD has a better side effect profile.
- An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies 13 .
I Don’t Care – I am Giving my Pets CBD …
It’s understandable that many pet parents are frustrated by the ambiguity surrounding CBD and dogs. When in doubt, stick with hemp extracted CBD, preferable a full spectrum solution. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
Do Your Research: This is especially true if you are buying something online. Avoid falling prey to the marketing hype and unsubstantiated claims. Seek out impartial reviews to see what others are saying. We find it is most often helpful to read the most negative reviews first. Conduct a little background research on the company: Have they been sued and, if so, why? Have they been penalized by the US FDA or EU Regulatory Bodies for allegedly making false claims? Do they have a veterinarian on staff, or do they work with a veterinary school?
Natural Doesn’t Mean Better: First, no marijuana or CBD product you might give your dog is natural. Apart from raw, unprocessed marijuana, which you should ABSOLUTELY NOT give to your dog, anything you get or buy online has been processed or altered in some fashion. Second, natural things can be dangerous – just think of arsenic.
If It Sounds Too Good to Be True: Online choices, CBD galore. Sounds too good to be true, right? There are several ways to extract CBD from hemp, but one of the quickest and cheapest involves using solvents such as butane and hexane, which can leave a toxic residue if not properly handled. That’s not to say all online products should be distrusted, but do your research on the company, how they make their product, their claims, and what unbiased reviewers are saying.
Document It: Keep a journal of your fur kid(s) before and for several days if you decide to use a CBD product. This will help you decide whether it’s having a positive effect. Better still, record video of your dog to document their progress, or lack thereof. This will help you overcome the flaws of human memory. Or ask your friends/family whether they’ve noticed any difference in your fur kid(s) without telling them that you’ve been giving your dog CBD.
Know the Warning Signs: As with anything you give to your fur kids – from chew toys to prescribed medications – it’s important to recognize when something isn’t quite right. If you notice these symptoms in your dog, it might be a good idea to check in with your vet. The following side effects have been reported by humans who took CBD, so do your best to translate them to dogs.
- Dry Mouth: Your dog can’t tell you if they have dry mouth, but it’s safe to say they might increase their water intake. And increased thirst could also be a sign of other serious problems, such as antifreeze or rodenticide poisoning, or conditions like diabetes.
- Tremors: Human patients with Parkinson’s disease have reported increased tremors at high doses of CBD. Tremors of any kind should be cause for concern in a dog.
- Low Blood Pressure: If your vet notices low blood pressure during your next wellness visit, let them know that you have been giving your dog CBD. Until then, check whether your dog seems overly tired or lethargic.
- Light-headedness: Your dog won’t tell you if they’re feeling light-headed, but they might seem disoriented or dizzy.
- Drowsiness: Pay attention to your dog’s sleeping patterns to see if there’s any change.
Be extremely careful with all the hype being created online. The blossoming of marijuana and CBD use, both for dogs and humans, may be a positive change and a new path forward in medicine – or it could be a dead end. Regardless of the broader debate about marijuana, it is no laughing matter if your fur kids accidentally get hold of your pot! Just because it may be working for you or a friend of yours, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work (or be safe) for your dog. Best discuss your options with your vet or an integrated vet.
Curious? Do Your Own Research
Our pet parents are curious, including previously taboo topics such as cannabis-based treatments for their ailing companions, otherwise they would not be part of our family! We know that changing the attitude of medical professionals toward the use of medical cannabis with pets will be slow, hard work, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Still, we trust that the research will continue to show cannabis as a positive medical option for the treatment of dogs and cats.
Remember, as with any condition, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health. For further reading, ProjectCBD maintains a comprehensive list of conditions and related scientific studies that examine how CBD is used in the treatment thereof.
Articles and Videos
- AVMA: Veterinary Marijuana?
- All the Best Pet Care: What Hemp CBD Can Do For Your Dog Or Cat;
- Consumer Reports: Can Cannabis Oil Really Treat Seizures?;
- What’s the Latest on Using CBD for Pet Anxiety and Pain?;
- Dog’s Naturally Magazine: Cannabis For Your Dog: How It Can Help;
- Healing Histamine: Cannabidiol for Mast Cell Activation and Histamine Intolerance;
- Mayo Clinic: Allergies;
- Medical Hemp: Cannabinoids & CBD;
- Ministry of Hemp: Hemp vs Marijuana;
- Modern Dog Magazine: A Natural Solution to Separation Anxiety;
- PetCareRx: 8 Ways to Treat Dog Joint Pain;
- Pet MD: Cannabis Oil for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know;
- Pet Releaf Hemp Health: How CBD Hemp Oil Can Help Your Pet’s Anxiety;
- Preventative Vet: What to Know if You Want to Give Your Dog CBD;
- WellSpring: Arthritis in Dogs: How CBD Oil Can Help;
- Westword: Colorado State University Leading the Way in Veterinary CBD Treatment;
Dr. Rob Silver – Medical Cannabis Part 1- What every pet parent needs to know
Dr. Rob Silver – Medical Cannabis Part 2 – What every pet parent needs to know
References and Research
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- 2.Russo E. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008;4(1):245-259. doi:10.2147/tcrm.s1928
- 3.Nagarkatti P, Pandey R, Rieder S, Hegde V, Nagarkatti M. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Med Chem. 2009;1(7):1333-1349. doi:10.4155/fmc.09.93
- 4.Massi P, Solinas M, Cinquina V, Parolaro D. Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013;75(2):303-312. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04298.x
- 5.Solinas M, Massi P, Cantelmo A, et al. Cannabidiol inhibits angiogenesis by multiple mechanisms. Br J Pharmacol. 2012;167(6):1218-1231. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.02050.x
- 6.Ramer R, Merkord J, Rohde H, Hinz B. Cannabidiol inhibits cancer cell invasion via upregulation of tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-1. Biochem Pharmacol. 2010;79(7):955-966. doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2009.11.007
- 7.Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016;20(4):16-005. doi:10.7812/TPP/16-005
- 8.Tzadok M, Uliel-Siboni S, Linder I, et al. CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy: The current Israeli experience. Seizure. 2016;35:41-44. doi:10.1016/j.seizure.2016.01.004
- 9.Carlini E, Cunha J. Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol. J Clin Pharmacol. 1981;21(S1):417S-427S. doi:10.1002/j.1552-4604.1981.tb02622.x
- 10.Philpott H, OʼBrien M, McDougall J. Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. Pain. 2017;158(12):2442-2451. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052
- 11.Malfait A, Gallily R, Sumariwalla P, et al. The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000;97(17):9561-9566. doi:10.1073/pnas.160105897
- 12.Machado Bergamaschi M, Helena Costa Queiroz R, Waldo Zuardi A, Alexandre S. Crippa J. Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa Constituent. CDS. September 2011:237-249. doi:10.2174/157488611798280924
- 13.Iffland K, Grotenhermen F. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):139-154. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034