CBD oil is being used for our canine friends more and more frequently since its benefits for humans have been proven and discussed. In this article, we will try to separate the claims from the hard evidence.
CBD: Where Does It Come From?
CBD oil is a biologically active molecule that occurs in plants in the genus Cannabis. These plants are thought to be originally native to Central Asia, with a range stretching from Nepal in the East to Turkey in the West. Its long-running relationship with humankind has blurred the boundaries of where it grew native before it was domesticated by humankind.
Or, as some anthropologists have suggested – before we were domesticated by the plants. Cannabis likes nitrogen-enriched, sunny patches beside streams or lakes.
This environment is exactly the kind left behind by hunter-gatherer bands as they moved through the landscape on a yearly cycle. As they came back to the same campsite from the year before, they would have found that dropped Cannabis seeds had grown into dense thickets of useable plants.
The CBD oil found in the seeds of these plants has been utilised by countless human cultures, although they could not know that CBD was one of the compounds that improved their health and wellbeing. CBD oil was isolated in 1940 and sequenced fully in the early 1960s.
It can be infused directly from the plant material into a carrier oil: grapeseed, olive or others. More recently, supercritical carbon dioxide extraction has been developed as a way to extract pure CBD oil using high-pressure gas and extremely low temperatures.
CBD And Dogs: The History
The relationship between humans and CBD goes back to at least 4,000 years ago, and probably longer, although archaeological evidence is scant for such a remote period. The oldest apparent medicinal Cannabis find was at a late neolithic grave site in the Netherlands. A person was found buried here with a profusion of Cannabis pollen, and a small amount of pollen from the known fever-reducing plant Filipendula ulmaria or meadowsweet. This implied that the CBD oil in the Cannabis was being used as a painkiller by a person who was very ill.
Dogs have an even older bond with humans, with definite domestication occurring 11,700 years ago and some scholars claiming that humans and dogs shared living space as far back as 36,000 years ago. It is argued that humans would not have developed the complex and organised society that has led to our runaway success as a species, without the help of dogs.
The ancient Greeks recorded that they used cannabis – containing CBD oil – to treat a number of ailments in their horses and other animals. They would use the plant raw, boiled or steeped and apply it to wounds. This was apparently a popular treatment and may well have extended to dogs.
In many societies, CBD oil has been an important medical treatment, and dogs have been at our side for even longer, so it is logical to assume that Cannabis was an important treatment for dogs in the past.
The endocannabinoid system is a network of receptor proteins concentrated in the brain but spread across many other parts of the body. These protein sites are named after the plant genus Cannabis as they respond so readily to the cannabinoids produced by them. The endocannabinoid system is thought to be common to all ‘bilaterian’ animals. This group of animals consists of every ‘bilateral’ species – every animal with a front and back end, a digestive tract in between, and two distinct sides. That means pretty much every animal species aside from sea sponges and a few other groups. The bilaterians split from the non-bilaterians approximately 555 million years ago, which puts humans and dogs firmly in the same group – meaning dogs share the endocannabinoid system with us and other mammals.
The research on human subjects and CBD oil has been sparse enough, but the research on dogs even more so. One study in 1977 found that chronic doses of CBD over 30 days had reduced sperm cell production in dogs. Many other studies through the 20th century have shown that CBD is metabolised in the same way/time by dogs as it is for rodents and humans. This is promising for the potential of CBD as a treatment for dogs. The widespread anecdotal evidence and testimonies from people who are currently using it, as well as the ancient use of Cannabis on animals, is also promising for the future of CBD oil for dogs.