Can A Dog Overcome Seizures with Hemp Oil?
Unfortunately, seizures are very common in dogs. Idiopathic epilepsy, the single most common canine seizure disorder, is reported to occur in anywhere from 0.5 to 5.7 percent of all dogs.
Epilepsy is a persistent (chronic) condition of the brain. It involves unpredictable abnormal electrical discharges or misfiring of brain cells (neurons). This misfiring in the brain can cause episodes of bodily convulsions, loss of coordination, loss of consciousness or altered sensory states.
There can be serious side effects resulting from the use of conventional anticonvulsants. These can include nausea, headaches, loss of hair, swelling of gum tissue, impotence, depression, poor coordination (ataxia), liver failure, depressed blood counts, sedation, slurring of speech, unsteadiness, double vision, weight gain, hyperactivity (in children), sleep disturbances, irritability, gum dysplasia, hirsutism (excessive growth of hair) and changes in mood.
Fortunately, Cannabis has well documented relief for humans as well as animals who find themselves battling this disorder. Cannabis has been used to treat epilepsy since at least medieval Arabia and sixteenth-century Southeast Asia. In 1839 Dr. William O’Shaughnessy introduced Cannabis to Western medicine and it was used to treat convulsions caused by tetanus (lockjaw) and hydrophobia (rabies) along with puerperal convulsions, chorea, and strychnine poisoning.
A 2013 study published by the British Journal of Pharmacology found that marijuana can stop seizures due to its “significant anticonvulsant effects.” Researchers used an extract made from the whole cannabis plant. Using the substance on a number of animal models such as rats and mice, they found that the extract was able to effectively stop seizures.
Researchers noted, “Here, for the first time, we demonstrate that cannabis extracts rich in Cannabidivarin and Cannabinoids can exert significant anticonvulsant effects… These findings strongly support the further clinical development of Cannabidivarin BDSs for treatment of epilepsy.”
Dr. Paul Consroe of the University of Arizona suggests that hemp oil may have distinctive therapeutic value as an anticonvulsant in and of itself. He found that while high doses of THC can trigger convulsions in seizure susceptible animals, the administration of cannabidiol in similar or higher does not cause convulsions. His studies concluded that hemp oil extract might have powerful anticonvulsant properties, which counteract the muscle-exciting effects of THC when both compounds are delivered to the body in marijuana.
Colorado State University is currently studying the safety and efficacy of hemp oil in dogs with epilepsy and arthritis.
A non-psychoactive cannabis compound, hemp oil has shown promise as an anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti-epilepsy, and pain-relieving agent in preclinical studies and a small number of clinical trials.
After Colorado legalized adult use marijuana in 2012, CSU veterinary neurologist Dr. Stephanie McGrath noticed that more pet owners and vets inquired about the safety and efficacy of administering hemp oil to dogs. Without qualified, peer-reviewed scientific studies on hemp products for pets, owners were giving hemp oil to their dogs in the hopes of addressing seizures, pain, and anxiety brought on by thunderstorms and fireworks.
After receiving an increase in cannabis-related research requests, CSU veterinarians have set out to offer pet owners and vets more information on hemp's potential for offering relief to pets.
Last spring, the CSU team conducted its first cannabis-related study, investigating the safety of hemp oil in healthy dogs. The study compared three dosing methods – capsule, tincture, and topical cream – tincture was found to be the best for safety and measurement in the bloodstream.
Following these results, CSU gave the go-ahead for more clinical trials. Researchers are enrolling dogs for two 12-week, double blind crossover clinical trials that will measure the effectiveness of hemp oil for arthritis.
Hemp Oil has demonstrated the ability to reduce or even eliminate seizures (Blair, Deshpande & DeLorenzo, 2015) (Rosenberg, Tsien, Whalley & Devinsky, 2015) (Szaflarski & Bebin, 2014) (Devinsky, et al., 2014). Research also finds that cannabis is effective in the treatment of severe pediatric epilepsy disorders like Dravet syndrome, Doose syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (Porter & Jacobson, 2013). Hemp Oil Extract has also been shown to improve sleep (53%), alertness (71%), and mood (63%) in epileptic children (Hussain, et al., 2015).
In the CSU study, pet owners will be tasked with keeping an ongoing log to track seizure activity, all the while not knowing whether their dog is receiving the hemp oil or a placebo. After six weeks, each dog will receive the opposite solution for the second half of the trial. The dogs will also be subjected to blood tests every four weeks throughout the 12-weeks.
Many veterinarians and scientists continue to be hesitant to recommend hemp oil, concerned with a lack of clinical research. Some may offer pet owners guidance on cannabis products for their animals, but veterinarians are as of now not allowed to prescribe any cannabis products.
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Blair, R.E., Deshpande, L.S., and DeLorenzo, R.J. (2015, September). Cannabinoids: is there a potential treatment role in epilepsy? Expert Opinion on Pharmacology, 16(13), 1911-4. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4845642/.
Hussain, SA., Zhou, R., Jacobson, C., Weng, J., Cheng, E., Lay, J., Hung, P., Lerner, JT., and Sankar, R. (2015, June). Perceived efficacy of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis extracts for treatment of pediatric epilepsy: A potential role for infantile spasms and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Epilepsy & Behavior, 47, 138-41. Retrieved from http://www.epilepsybehavior.com/article/S1525-5050(15)00157-2/fulltext.
Szaflarski, JP. and Bebin, EM. (2014, December). Cannabis, cannabidiol, and epilepsy–from receptors to clinical response. Epilepsy & Behavior, 41, 277-82. Retrieved from http://www.epilepsybehavior.com/article/S1525-5050(14)00413-2/fulltext.
Porter, B.E., and Jacobson, C. (2013, December). Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy. Epilepsy & Behavior, 29(3), 574-7. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4157067/.