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CBD Treats Arthritis in Dogs, Study Finds

By Alexander Beadle

Published: Jun 02, 2020   
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A new study assessing the effects of CBD tinctures in controlling arthritic pain in dogs has found promising results and could indicate a similar usefulness in humans.

Canine arthritis closely mimics the characteristics of arthritis in humans. Current treatments for arthritis vary from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, to lifestyle changes, opioids, and surgery.

As the dogs in this study showed a distinct improvement in quality of life, the researchers say there is good cause to investigate similar CBD treatments for human use.

CBD for dogs with arthritis

The study, published in the journal PAIN, was led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in collaboration with Medterra CBD.

It studied the effects of various hemp-derived CBD tinctures on cell models, mouse models, and finally on a small number of dogs undergoing treatment at a local hospital in Houston.

In the laboratory tests and in the mouse models, the researchers observed a significant fall in the production of inflammatory molecules and immune cells associated with arthritis.

They also found that this effect was faster and generally more effective when the CBD was delivered in liposomal formulations, where droplets of CBD are encapsulated by a liposome. These liposomes are artificial micro or nanoscale spherical sacs made up of lipid molecules, and are commonly used as a novel drug delivery system for pharmaceuticals as they facilitate drug absorption into the body.

With CBD effectively suppressing the production of inflammatory molecules, and with these findings on liposomal CBD formulations, the researchers then looked at the effects of ordinary and liposome-encapsulated CBD on dogs diagnosed with arthritis.

“We studied dogs because experimental evidence shows that spontaneous models of arthritis, particularly in domesticated canine models, are more appropriate for assessing human arthritis pain treatments than other animal models. The biological characteristics of arthritis in dogs closely resemble those of the human condition,” explained study author Dr Matthew Halpert in a statement.

Twenty dogs, which were being treated at the Sunset Animal Hospital in Houston, were enrolled in the study, with each dog being given either CBD, liposomal CBD, or a placebo. Neither the dog owners nor the attending veterinarians were informed of which treatment each dog had received.

After a period of four weeks, the owners and vets were asked to report any changes they may have seen in the animals’ perceived level of pain, such as changes to the animal’s running or gait. The researchers also tested the dogs’ cell blood count and blood indicators of liver and kidney function, both before and after the four-week study period, in order to assess the effectiveness of each treatment.

“We found encouraging results,” Halpert said. “Nine of the ten dogs on CBD showed benefits, which remained for two weeks after the treatment stopped. We did not detect alterations in the blood markers we measured, suggesting that, under the conditions of our study, the treatment seems to be safe.”

The study was funded in part by a sponsored research agreement between Medterra CBD Inc and Baylor College of Medicine, and by the Cytometry and Cell Sorting Core at Baylor College of Medicine with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Man’s best friend

This study is not the first time that dog owners have reported CBD having beneficial effects on their pets. In fact, there is a whole market sector dedicated to producing and providing CBD-infused pet goods. In 2017 alone, sales of such products from medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries were estimated to reach nearly $7 million in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, according to BDSA.

However, for pet owners who are interested in this market, it is also worth noting that there are cases of such publicly available products being tested by federal labs and finding that the product contains none of cannabinoid in question. Additionally, there is relatively little available research on the effects of cannabinoids on dogs or other common pets.

Still, within the context of this study, the CBD tinctures appeared to effectively manage arthritis-related pains in dogs. Since canine arthritis operates in a similar way to human arthritis, the researchers suggest that follow-up investigations for humans would be a good next step.

Diagnosed cases of osteoarthritis in the United States have tripled in the past two decades, write the researchers, largely because of increasing rates of obesity and an aging population. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly 1-in-4 American adults (equivalent to 54.4 million people) have formally diagnosed arthritis; more than 40 percent of those affected experience limitations in their usual activities.

Diagnosed cases of arthritis are only expected to increase. Even by conservative estimates, more than 78 million people could be affected by 2040. With so many people potentially affected by the condition, there is an understandable need to investigate all possible treatment options, including CBD and cannabis medicine. 


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