Dr. Kristin Christy, April, 2019
CBD oil: Is it the new miracle drug? There are many people who think so, but it is way too early in the game to know how good and useful this product will become. For those of you who may not be aware, CBD (cannabidiol) is the non-psychoactive (ie: does not get the user “high”) portion of the cannabis (marijuana) plant being used in a variety of medicinal and non-medicinal products.
One of the biggest problems with CBD oil is that the popularity has grown much faster than the science and research behind it. It has got to the point that there are a variety of CBD options available without necessary structure, purity, and control. People are grabbing it for any and all ailments for themselves and now their pets. This can potentially be harmful medically, but also can be a waste of time, money, and resources until we know more about the dosing and appropriate uses of the products.
Legally, it is still in a confusing and unclear state. While, there may be legally appropriate situations where we can use CBD in animals, there are many situations where it is not clear cut and could potentially result in a loss of doctor’s veterinary license if used. Theoretically, depending on what you look at and who you ask, there may currently only be 2 legally allowed approved drug products (on the human side) that could potentially be used off label in pets, but the dosing is not necessarily established. Local vs federal laws are not on the same page. The DEA vs FDA are not on the same page. As veterinarians, we need to be very careful on this situation until we have more direction or else we may end up in more trouble than it is worth at this point.
The good news for those of you interested in using CBD on their pets ASAP is that the research is underway. The earliest and biggest sectors on research right now concentrate on Epilepsy and Pain/arthritis, but there are others working on cancer, other causes of pain, anxiety, inflammatory intestinal diseases, etc. Research has mainly been with dogs, but they are branching out to cats, horses, monkeys, birds, and other exotics.
The important thing to remember is that while some people may want to grab CBD oil before anything else, try to get a proper diagnosis on a pet’s condition and go through the proper known medical treatments before jumping on the CBD bandwagon. Give it some time to figure out proper usages of CBD oil, proper dosing, and proper situations before you grab the product. Sometimes people start out with appropriate treatments for an illness, but still grab the CBD oil early in the treatment and then when the pet gets better, they assume it was the CBD that did it and that may not be the whole truth. Power of suggestion and Placebo effect can also have a dramatic effect on pets and people as well. We are all excited about new and better ways to treat patients, but be sure to not do something prematurely that could result in unintended harm to our furry friends!