We live in the information age. There is easy access to anything you choose on the world wide web. How do you know that your source is researched, valid or applicable? Dr. Tanya Grantham recently completed a course designed for veterinarians, that looked at the use of cannabis in dogs, to treat a number of medical conditions. This newsletter serves to share some of that information to assist you in making an informed decision about the giving this substance to your pet.
What is medicinal marijuana? It consists of dried unfertile female flowers, leaves, resin glands from Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. Many cultures, over the centuries, have recognised the benefits of cannabis. It is viewed as a multi-dimensional plant that contains biologically active compounds with profound medical effects. These compounds fall into three categories namely cannabinoids (100), terpenes (200) and flavinoids (29). Not all have been researched yet others have been researched very well. Cannabinoids and terpenes, specifically, exert an effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a system of receptors found throughout the body of all mammals. It is thought that the function of this system is to maintain balance. Two main types of cannabinoids occur naturally in the body, similar to endorphin being the body’s own type of morphine.
The physiological effects of cannabis come about as a result of the chemical composition of the plant. We are now seeing that a Full Plant Extract displays an ‘entourage effect’. This means that the sum of all the different compounds is greater than if used individually. The effect of the 100s of compounds in the plant is synergistic.
Most discussion revolves around tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychotropic compound however, it does have great analgesic properties. CBD is sedative, with some pain killing effects. Both can play a role in managing tumours and inflammation. The ratio of CBD to THC is important in that CBD can reduce the hallucinogenic effects of THC. THC does have side effects when used in dogs, usually causing tremors and salivation. Sometimes it can cause static ataxia, a state where the dog is standing, trembling but seems unable to step or move. THC overdose is not fatal but the dogs may need supportive therapy in the form of a drip. Place them in a darker, quiet room in which they cannot harm themselves. If a full extract of cannabis is used in dogs then it is possible to desensitise them to the effects of THC by starting with a small dose and gradually increasing over a period of a few weeks, to full dose.
The manner in which the compounds are extracted will also play a role in the effect these compounds have in the body. For example, heat (above a certain temperature) activates THC and increases the psychotropic effects.
The sale of full extract cannabis products in South Africa is illegal unless the products are manufactured by one of the few companies registered for this purpose. These companies produce a product that is laboratory tested for concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes; pesticide, fungicide, bacterial and fungal contamination; residual solvents and heavy metals. Cannabis is a plant that cleans soil therefore any of these compounds in the soil will be taken up by the plant. Ultimately, analysis of the products provides the foundation to create safe medicinal products for humans and animals.
Properties of cannabis include
- anti-inflammatory effects
- seizure control
- Anxiolytic effects
- lowers intra-ocular pressure
- gastrointestinal support
- Regulation of blood sugarThus extracts can be used to treat inflammatory and painful conditions, anxiety related disorders including PTSD, certain tumours, irritable bowel syndrome, glaucoma and diabetes.