Your Pet’s Endocannabinoid System

link pets health endocannabinoid system boulderholisticvet blog post

When I started to investigate the medicinal properties of cannabis, I discovered a body system I had never heard of before, the endocannabinoid system. I earned a BS in Biomedical Science and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine and I don’t remember a single mention of this system! In this article, I am going to give an overview of the endocannabinoid system. Just a warning, this is super nerdy. If nothing else, you can use the correct pronunciation of the word endocannabinoid to impress your friends.

This system is present not only in humans but dogs and cats as well. It consists of receptors in the brain and all over the body. Think of a receptor being like the ignition of your car. These receptors influence the following functions in the body:

  • immune system
  • pain perception
  • mood and well being
  • emotional reactivity
  • neurogenesis (making new nerve cells)
  • sleep

The receptors of the endocannabinoid system are bound by cannabinoids. Think of the cannabinoid like your car key that turns your ignition (the receptor). If your car starts with the push of a button, the button is the cannabinoid. Cannabinoids come from two places.

The first are cannabinoids that are made by the body called endocannabinoids. The second source is from outside the body either from plants (phytocannabinoids) or from synthetically made cannabinoids.

The following are a few of the cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant that have been studied.

  • CBD (cannabidiol)
  • THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)
  • CBN (cannabinol)
  • CBL (cannabicyclol)
  • CBC (cannabichromene)

Over 500 compounds have been isolated from Cannabis sativa, so these cannabinoids are just a small portion of the therapeutic components. Like many herbal remedies, these cannabinoids and other therapeutic compounds work together to produce benefit to the body. There is a growing body of research that has isolates and studied how each of these cannabinoids affect both human and animal endocannabinoid systems. So, stay tuned for new and exciting discoveries!

In my practice, I use a full spectrum hemp extract that contains less than 0.3% THC (no high). The term full spectrum means that the extract contains more than just CBD. It contains many of the other therapeutic components of the hemp plant. Not surprisingly, I find CBD to be extremely effective for my patients with anxiety. It also helps my patients with seizures, arthritis and chronic viral infections.

You can browse the products I use in my practice or you can get my Cannabis Quick Start Guide here.

I would love to hear from you! Comment below with any questions or for a geeky bonus, share any new cannabis related science articles you are reading.

With love,

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Claire Primo, Veterinary Nurse for BHVChris LeigeberColleen Recent comment authors
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Colleen
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Colleen

Hi, Is there a hemp oil that is more affordable to use on cats with interstitial cystitis? I have three. I rescue cats and have some that are either handicapped or have health issues. I cannot afford the ones you recommend. To anyone who says that if you cannot afford a pet you shouldn’t have it, there is no place for the ones I have to go, the shelters and rescues are full, and I certainly wasn’t going to leave them sick with kittens on their own. Plus, I used to be able to afford them, but my husband was… Read more »

Claire Primo, Veterinary Nurse for BHV

Hi Colleen, Good question! It sounds like you are doing an amazing job with your kitties, and ones that would have a hard time finding new homes in other circumstances. They are so very lucky to have your love and care. CBD is really quite expensive! When shopping for another CBD products, we have a few tips. We would recommend going with a pet friendly version (to ensure there are no essential oils or natural flavors that may be important to avoid). We also recommend ensuring that the product is organic and pesticide free. Ensuring the product has a guaranteed… Read more »

chris.leigeber@gmail.com
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Thank you for the great information. I love that you stay so engaged with your practice and study of alternative/holistic medicine! I need to make more time in my days to read your writings! Oh, and Kenya has done wonderful on your CBD dog treats. The problem is for her weight, it is VERY expensive. I mean $140/month is what over $1500 annually? I love my Kenya, but I am not prepared to sell a kidney for her anxiety! I admit, I have considered getting more and cutting the dose in half as I feel a bit guilty. I am… Read more »

Claire Primo, Veterinary Nurse for BHV

Hi Chris, The laws surrounding CBD and Cannabis are ever changing – they are hard to keep up with and we are constantly staying updated (it’s a full time job!). I am so glad to hear that Kenya responds so well with the CBD treats! It’s absolutely not an inexpensive supplement. Have you considered the HempRx oil? The HempRx Forte is actually the most cost effective option (even though it’s the most money upfront!). The concentration is twice as strong and the bottle is twice as large as the HempRx. Overall, I think you would find that it lasts longer… Read more »

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