Now, we’re all aware of the massive role the big pharma companies play in what treatments are given the green light and when, so it comes as no surprise that research into hemp - a cheap, sustainable and efficacious natural resource - is disregarded for lack of profit; and to the extreme detriment of many, including our furry friends of all shapes and sizes.
But these days, the persistent din, created by those who believe in the incredible therapeutic qualities of hemp, has become too much of an uproar to deny any longer. Cannabidiol is slowly seeing recognition for its efficacy in a huge range of issues and illnesses; from that of treating an out-of-balance immune system to even hearing anecdotes of its ability to slow the development of cancer.
Many are acknowledging that hemp, a once demonised plant, can play a vital role in the betterment of human health - but what about for the health of our animal counterparts?
Hemp for Horses
One industry that has jumped on the proverbial CBD band-waggon is the equine industry. This is because CBD has been found to hold potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which, unfortunately, is an issue that affects horses egregiously.
Those that are familiar with these animals understand that lameness is a relatively common problem, and one of the more common causes of lameness is joint disease; with one study indicating joint disease accounts for up to 60% of lameness in horses. This is a staggering number, and those who rear equine animals know how debilitating and painful this disease can be. But in order to understand how CBD for horses can help, it’s important to know a bit about the disease itself.
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Horses can develop joint disease for various reasons, but normally it is caused by previous joint trauma, or from a wound or infection. Once damage is sustained, the inflammatory process can perpetuate itself and cause tissue damage, leading to further inflammation.
Treatments for equine joint disease are limited, but include intrasynovial injections of corticosteroids. Experiments with this treatment indicates that it may be very effective in treating the early or acute stages of joint inflammation, but may not be as effective for other issues. Years ago, the unpopular practice of injecting liquid petroleum into joints in order for it to “get better lubricated” was administered on some racehorses with degenerative bone disease; which usually ended unfavourably for the horse. The best treatment is said to be rest, but many find this an unacceptable choice and so look for other alternatives.
A more natural and far less aggressive treatment coming to the fore is CBD.
So How Does CBD Help Equine Joint Disease?
CBD for horses can be administered easily, with the inclusion of hemp seeds and hemp fibre in horse feed, as well as through using hemp oils, pastes and topical ointments or creams.
So far, a range of studies have been undertaken on the therapeutic effects of CBD, but what is immediately clear is the effects of CBD on inflammation and pain management. So far, a majority of studies focusing on CBD use for inflammation and pain management, especially in joints, have promising finds.
One study published by the University of Kentucky, focusing on arthritis in mice, reported that the use of CBD significantly reduced joint swelling, which can alleviate the associated pain. The study went on to conclude that CBD has “therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation without side effects”; promising news for humans and animals alike.
Omega for Inflammation - Naturally Found in Hemp Material
In particular, one component of the cannabis plant that has been shown to directly help with joint inflammation and pain is essential fatty acids (EFAs) Omega-3 and -6.
Omega-3 fatty acids include ALA, EPA and DHA, with research suggesting that “Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower chronic diseases such as… arthritis”. Omega-6 (GLA) is also present within the seeds of the hemp plant and is required in conjunction with Omega-3 EFAs to maintain a healthy balance of anti-inflammatory signalling molecules in the body. Most importantly, the ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 found naturally within the hemp plant are integral to maintaining the balance between too much Omega-6 and not enough Omega-3; which actually promotes further detrimental inflammation.
Safe to Eat
The benefits of ingesting hemp in the form of seeds and fibre are significant. Many farmers are now using hemp material to feed their animals, as it offers a far more nourishing alternative to standard industry feed. This is because the whole hemp plant (including the seeds, leaves, stems, roots, and buds) contains an immense number of vitamins, minerals, all 9 essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and is also a complete source of protein; essential to the health of your animal.
When treating problems in any animal, it is important to contact your veterinarian before making any changes in their diet or supplements. Because the hemp industry is relatively new, regulations are yet to fully catch up, so it is always suggested to do your research before sourcing hemp products. Using sites like Trustpilot to garner information on what products work best is always a good idea, as it provides real customer reviews and anecdotes.