Cannabidiol (CBD) and horses: What is it good for?

CBD - Whether you already use it, are thinking about it or simply have never heard of it, it is worth getting familiar with it.

Meanwhile, there are many testimonies from people who have successfully treated their horses with CBD.

What is CBD and is it marijuana?

CBD is the abbreviation for "cannabidiol", one of more than 100 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD and THC are the two most studied substances.

Cannabis sativa L. (genus, species and subspecies) is the "umbrella term" for plants known as hemp and marijuana. Marijuana is particularly rich in THC, the cannabinoid that produces a psychoactive "high". CBD on the other hand does not produce this effect.

CBD derived from hemp is not marijuana. Although both hemp and marijuana belong to the cannabis genus, they differ in their genetic composition in that they produce very different amounts of THC.

What is the endocannabinoid system?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an important signalling system that is present in humans and also in animals. It continuously monitors any instability in the body and returns it to a state of equilibrium or homeostasis so that the internal environment remains stable.

Within the ECS there are two main cell receptors - CB1 and CB2:

CB1 receptors exist mainly in the brain and central nervous system. They have an effect on areas such as appetite regulation, memory, emotions and feelings of pain.

CB2 receptors are concentrated in the gastrointestinal tract and in the peripheral nervous system (nerve cells outside the brain and spinal cord) and modulate the functions of immune cells. When activated, they reduce inflammation.

Endogenous cannabinoids are produced when the body signals that they are needed, but they are quickly broken down again. By offering CBD (exogenous cannabinoid), the ECS can work harder and more productively to help us and our animals cope with health problems.

Popular applications of CBD include

- Anxiety and depression

- Insomnia

- Pain and inflammation

- Obesity

- Metabolic syndrome

- Immunodeficiency and autoimmune diseases

- digestive disorders / ulcers / colitis

Side effects

CBD has few side effects. In case of overdose it can have slight effects. These may include drowsiness, decreased blood pressure, dizziness, fatigue, and diarrhea. If you or your animals have any of these problems, you can reduce the dosage. Long-term use seems safe, although further research is needed.

Application for horses

At the present time, there are few, if any, research studies using horses as test persons. However, it can be assumed that this will change rapidly as more and more companies produce CBD for horse consumption. In the meantime, anecdotal reports are very helpful. From first-hand experience of horse owners, CBD from hemp seems to stimulate the horse's ECS in the same way as it does in humans. It is well tolerated without euphoric or adverse effects. Specific health conditions in horses that CBD can improve include, based on currently available studies with humans and laboratory animals:

- Pain due to arthritis or laminitis

- confinement fear

- Stress on trips and shows

- Ulcers and leaking bowel

- Healing after operations or injuries

- Depression of the immune system through oxidative stress in Cushing's disease

- Appetite regulation

- Obesity

- Inflammation with the potential to reduce leptin levels

- Insulin Resistance

Rules and tests for horse competitions

The FEI and the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) have strict rules for the treatment of horses before events. Recently, USEF announced that positive test results for cannabinoids will lead to violations as of September 1, 2019.

As THC is detectable by a blood or urine test, it is very unlikely that a positive test result will occur, as CBD derived from hemp contains only minute amounts of THC. To be on the safe side, it is better to stop using CBD 7 to 10 days before an event.

How to administer CBD

There are several ways to provide CBD:

SublingualIf you place the drops under the tongue and hold them there for 30 seconds, good bioavailability is achieved and the effect starts quickly. This is difficult for animals and is not recommended as most drops are administered through a glass pipette and may cause injury when biting.

OralAdding CBD to food, swallowing a CBD capsule or chewing a CBD gum takes the longest time for the effects to become visible. However, this method lasts longer than under the tongue. 

TopicalCBD is well absorbed by the skin and is best suited for certain areas.

Conclusion

Although experts have been investigating the benefits of CBD for decades, research is still needed, especially for horses. Nevertheless, the results so far are encouraging and show far-reaching benefits for the natural endocannabinoid system, which relieves mental and physical ailments that affect us, our families and our animals.

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