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Know The Health Benefits Of Cannabis

One of this planet’s oldest herbs can provide safe and effective medicine for a myriad of issues with few to no side effects. With restrictions lessening, more practitioners are turning to cannabis as a viable, natural treatment option.

n my endeavors as a canine herbalist, I’ve been noticing how hemp has been showing up as a viable and therapeutic medicine in the United States and internationally. Hemp restrictions are breaking down in this country and the natural care world is starting to notice. I am not talking about hemp seed oil that you find in bath products and lotions, or hemp protein that you see in the nutritional aisle at your favorite co-op. I am referring to whole herb cannabis. Marijuana is slang for the cannabis plants that are bred to produce a high THC content. THC is the substance in marijuana that gives the user an intoxicating effect. No matter what name you know it by – weed, grass, pot, reefer, Mary Jane, marijuana, hemp or industrial hemp – only one group of plants are being referred to: the genus Cannabis. Within this genus are three species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis ruderalis and Cannabis indica. Hemp, also referred to as industrial hemp, is solely produced from sativa while marijuana is made from both sativa and indica. Before the 1940s, hemp was the number one cash-producing crop in the US. Then in 1970, America passed the Controlled Substances Act. The government was being pressured by powerful paper and agricultural companies to demonize hemp by associating it with marijuana (cannabis). These companies were seeing their profits plummet due to hemp’s versatility and low production cost. During this time, Canadian researcher Earnest Small created the international standard for hemp. He concluded that hemp was any form of cannabis that had .3 percent THC or lower. Forging its own path, America concluded that the entire Cannabis genus had to be controlled no matter what level of THC the plants had. Fast forward to today. The prohibition of cannabis for the last 74 years has turned it into a subject only talked about in secret. Cannabis is so much more than making fibers or getting high. Fear is what keeps most people from even considering the use of cannabis for their pets. I know it has never been at the top of my “go to” list but with all the new research being done, and medicinal findings being reported, I think that is about to change. Marijuana Versus Hemp The question that needs clarification is this: What is the difference between marijuana and hemp? The answer is cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. The cannabis plant has over 60 chemicals that scientists call cannabinoids. CBD and THC are the most prevalent cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. CBDs are therapeutic, non-high producing cannabinoids while THC is the cannabinoid that produces a euphoric sensation. In order to be classified as hemp, cannabis must have a THC content of .3 percent or lower. This percentage makes it impossible to produce any intoxication for a person or animal. The main difference between marijuana and hemp is that marijuana’s THC content normally ranges between 10 and 15 percent.

Now that we’ve determined that we’re not talking about high THC cannabis, you might be wondering how does high CBD cannabis work? First, the cannabis plant contains over 60 chemicals, which include cannabidiol, phytocannabinoids, terpenoids and flavonoids. These substances are responsible for the way cannabis naturally interacts with the nervous, immune, enzyme and cellular systems of people and animals. What I find fascinating is that both humans and other mammals have specific areas in their bodies that specifically deal with cannabinoids. These areas are called cannabinoid receptor sites. These sites make up what is called the endocannabinoid system, which supports numerous areas of the body including the immune, brain, organs and nervous systems. Benefits of Cannabinoids Stay with me because here’s the most promising news about the future of using hemp for our pets and ourselves. Studies have shown that many cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory effects, helping with pain, tumors, appetite stimulation, aggression, anxiety and neurological disorders. Veterinarians who’ve used hemp with their patients have seen improvements in the areas of arthritis, compromised immune systems, stress responses, aggression and digestive problems. There is also research being done involving type 1 diabetes, organ diseases and cancer.

CBD hemp medicine can also be used for acute issues like post-operative care, torn cruciate ligaments, muscle sprains and bone breaks. Veterinarian Sarah Brandon prescribed CBDs for a cat two weeks before knee surgery to help alleviate pain and inflammation. Post-operatively, the CBDs helped ease swelling, pain and stiffness. After six weeks, the treatment was discontinued. According to Joanie Bell at Hemp Health Inc, another beneficial use of CBDs is their “ability to be used in conjunction with traditional modalities of care because they allow for a lower dose of medicine to reach a specified therapeutic effect.” Lower dosages of medication equal fewer side effects. Safety and Side Effects CBD hemp provides a safe alternative to many traditional pharmaceutical medications if used as directed. Animals are individuals like us; what works for one may not work for another. The only consistent side effect that CBDs produce is drowsiness, which usually diminishes within a week. Dr Brandon explains that the sedative effect of hemp based CBDs is about the same as giving your dog a Benadryl. A rare issue but one that consistently occurs with any new medication being given is sensitivities. In the case of cannabis some pets have experienced excessive itching or mild vomiting. These types of sensitivities are rare but for these animals cannabis treatment must be discontinued.

It’s vitally important to ensure that the proper dosage is given when it comes to any type of medication, be it natural or pharmaceutical. The therapeutic amount of any medicine differs from animal to animal. Always start off with the smallest amount and increase the dosage in small increments until you have achieved a therapeutic dose. Another important factor in successfully using CBD hemp medicine with your pets is patience. After ingestion, it takes 45 minutes or longer to see any benefits. For example, pain relief is felt within a few hours while other symptoms like inflammation and appetite stimulation are usually resolved over a period of days. Purchasing CBD hemp products is a bit tricky because you are not purchasing simply for the level of CBDs in the product but also the blend of cannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, terpenoids and flavonoids. Soren Mogelsvang PhD and CEO of Peak Pharmaceuticals, supports the idea of whole plant extraction. He states: “The other cannabinoids are important as well to get the synergy of the plant. You don’t want to just focus on CBD content.” When purchasing, I would recommend focusing on companies that formulate products specifically for pets. It is also important that they provide customer support and third party batch analysis of their formulations. You and I both know that when new types of products come on the market, especially a medicine as promising as CBD cannabis, there will be a flood of good and not so-good products to choose from. Do your due diligence before choosing a product. All CBD hemp products are completely legal and can be shipped to your door no matter where you live. They can be purchased in oil bases, therapeutic chews and biscuits and capsules. Their cost ranges from $0.75 to $1.50 per dose. We are only just beginning to understand one of our planet’s oldest herbs. There are still many fears surrounding the different uses of the cannabis plant but it is my true belief that it can provide safe and effective medicine for a myriad of issues with few to no side effects. All CBD hemp products are completely legal and can be shipped to your door no matter where you live. They can be purchased in oil bases, therapeutic chews and biscuits and capsules. Their cost ranges from $0.75 to $1.50 per dose. *DogsNaturally

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