The medical use of cannabis was present in ancient China, Medieval Persia, and 19th Century Europe, used for treating infections, high fever, diarrhoea, and several kinds of pain. The first written records of its medical uses trace back to the year 2737 BC, found in Shennong’s pharmacopoeia, a father of Chinese medicine. Most usable medical compounds are found on buds, or flowers, of the female cannabis plant. The most noteworthy among these compounds are cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids, all naturally produced by the cannabis plant.
However, even though this plant has been long used, scientific evidence about its therapeutic potential is quite recent, and has faced several hurdles related to legal issues and also access to safe and quality medical products worldwide. In this context, companies such as Juicy Fields are turning to the cannabis industry and bring users more alternatives to access the medical benefits of this plant. Cannabis cultivation and research are still a challenge in those countries where this plant is even now illegal. However, researchers, investors, companies, doctors, scientists, and veterinarians represent a cornerstone of progress for this public health opportunity.
Research In Latin America
Recent studies in Latin American countries have established the efficacy of cannabis-derived compounds when treating small animals. In Argentina, Patricia D’Urso, a veterinary doctor, immuno-oncologist, and ethologist, has contributed from her near-20-year experience with this plant, clarifying that she makes an “experimental” use of this plant—precisely because of lack of regulation—and that her patients take cannabis oil “certified by the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (known by its Spanish acronym, CONICET)”.
Cannabis contains more than 100 cannabinoids, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). This expert explains that THC, generally associated with pleasure, is used at a lower concentration in tinctures because that is not the desired effect. “We look for the antioxidant effect to treat pain and tumours; it has been proven that this compound acts as an anti-inflammatory on tumours,” Patricia states.
Also from Neuquén, Argentina, veterinary doctor Santiago Gomez Ciavolella, member of Cannvet, an Argentine NGO that fosters regulation of the therapeutic use of cannabis in animals, highlighted positive effects shown on his patients.
Argentine Law No. 27350 sets forth a legal framework for medical and scientific research on the medical use of cannabis and its derivatives. At present, veterinary science professionals, social organisations and cannabis growers are demanding that the scope of this law should include animals and regulate therapeutic use.
In Mexico, a cannabis user and doctor Mario Marczuk, who specialises in veterinary use of CBD, developed a CBD oil formulation with less than 1% THC—the psychoactive compound of cannabis—and in compliance with current regulations for cannabis derivatives allowed in Mexico. Pet Magic is a dietary supplement especially meant for animals. This product improves the life quality of dogs with anxiety or any medical condition, such as arthritis, a common illness among them.
What Are Cannabinoids?
THC is the psychoactive compound of cannabis, and it is linked to recreational use. However, this is one of the most frequently used phytocannabinoids in oncology, given its antitumor, antiemetic, antispasmodic, analgesic, and orexigenic (appetite stimulant) effects. CBD, on the other hand, has anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, antipsychotic, and immunomodulatory properties, but produces no psychoactive effect—in fact, CBD inhibits euphoria that THC would otherwise trigger.
The use of this plant to treat chronic and degenerative diseases in domestic animals appears as an alternative that may improve their life quality. Most pets that fall into the “chordate” classification (encompassing vertebrates) have an endocannabinoid system that is identical to humans’, which plays a fundamental role in the processing of CBD components. But what does this mean? It means that cannabidiol may be administered to several domesticated animals, for instance, dogs.
New discoveries in this discipline resulted in an exponential improvement in the life expectancy of pets thanks to the development of methods for early diagnosis and the employment of more effective therapeutic resources. But this longevity is also determined by the effects of painful chronic conditions that were previously deemed as “terminal,” such as osteoarthrosis and cancer.
Additionally, the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) is sponsoring a study conducted by the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University, which will research on the use of CBD on dogs with epilepsy that do not respond to treatment. Results are expected by November this year.
Forms Of Drug Administration In Animals
Medical cannabis is administered to pets as a liquid oil or as treats. Liquids are preferred because dosing can be accurately controlled and because CBD may be better absorbed through the tissues of the mouth rather than through the digestive tract. Vaporized or smoked cannabis should never be used with pets, as this may damage their lungs and can lead to an accidental overdose. When considering cannabis as a medical option for treating pain and inflammation, it is important to consult with your veterinarian and follow the dosage guide for pets in pain.