If cannabidiol, CBD, a non-psychoactive chemical produced by the cannabis plant, has shown to help alleviate health issues like inflammation, anxiety, skin conditions, arthritis and joint pain in people, will this hemp-derived extract have positive effects on animals, as well?
Itay Ben-Mordechai, head of innovation at Weedley, a leader in the development and distribution of cannabidiol-based natural products (CBD) for pets, and his Tel Aviv-based team, says the answer points to a ‘yes.’
“We’ve seen how well animals respond to CBD oil drops and treats,” Ben-Mordechai says, noting that so far only research subjects and investors have tried Weedley’s CBD-infused transdermal creams and oils. “We saw how well a horse reacted to CBD oil drops. The horse had been taking steroids for over two years to treat a nervous skin condition and after two weeks of using our product, not only did the skin condition improve but the horse was taken off steroids.”
A great anecdotal story, no doubt. But Ben-Mordechai and the Weedley team know that scientifically-backed research and development is crucial to win over the pet care market.
“Our goal is to do research and develop CBD products for animals at the highest level to truly better their quality of life,” Ben-Mordechai tells NoCamels.
The horse’s reaction to the CBD-infused oil prompted the Tel Aviv group to launch a research study. Ben-Mordechai says their study is set to begin soon with an unnamed institution, and will be the first in the world to evaluate the pharmacokinetics of CBD on horses.
It comes in the wake of a study published last year by Cornell University, which assessed the pharmacokinetics, safety, and clinical efficacy of CBD in osteoarthritic dogs, and showed that administration of 2 mg/kg of CBD oil twice daily can safely decrease pain and increase activity in OA-afflicted canines.
In late May, Weedley – owned by Gour Medical, a French veterinary healthcare company – together with PetPace, the makers of a smart health-monitoring collar for pets, announced the launch of a separate clinical study to assess the efficacy of CBD in the treatment of osteoarthritis-associated pain in dogs.
“This study is one of many in Weedley’s pipeline, following the company’s core belief that high-quality clinical studies such as this are essential to the advancement of knowledge of the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in animal diseases and the use of CBD oil in their management,” Dr. Erez Hanael, Weedley’s Chief Veterinarian, said in a press statement.
Studies on humans have shown that cannabidiol possesses analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. As such, Weedley believes that CBD can relieve pain in pooches, too.
“Usually new products or medications are tested on animals and then approved for people. CBD is not considered a medicine yet although it has been used to treat a myriad of ailments for thousands of years,” says Ben-Mordechai.
“New tech and innovations have opened this space to pets. Obviously, a dog cannot smoke a joint but I can give an animal a CBD-infused biscuit to help with pain. What we’re doing is the opposite of what’s happening in the pharma field. We’re not using animals to find medications for human purpose; we’re creating products for pets specifically,” he explains to NoCamels.
The CBD-for-pets global market is one of the cannabis arena’s hottest sub-sectors. CBD pet products could reach $1.16 billion in the US by 2022, according to cannabis-focused research firm Brightfield Group.
The global pet care market is expected to reach $202.6 billion by 2025, according to a Grand View Research market report.
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Indeed, people love to splurge on their pets. And with CBD continuing its rise in popularity as a must-have ingredient in consumer products for people, it is no surprise that more CBD pet products are hitting the shelves for the four-legged family members, as well.
In Israel, CBD-infused treatments are not just for pampered pooches. Even dogs in shelters are candidates for anti-anxiety treatment with CBD.
According to an early July report on the Maariv news site, dogs in shelters in southern Israeli communities are in need of R&R in the wake of repeated sirens and rocket attacks from Gaza. “Examinations conducted by veterinarians from the Israel Medical Cannabis Association show that over 50 percent of dogs have anxiety symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, [and] pressing against walls,” reads the Hebrew media report.
Studies on humans have shown that the non-psychoactive chemical produced by the cannabis plant, can relieve anxiety and nausea. This understanding has now led a group of veterinarians in the south of Israel, who collaborate with the Israeli Association of Cannabis Medicine, to turn to the Ministry of Health for special permission to provide medical marijuana to dogs suffering from anxiety.
The vets “blame the security situation in the city” for the dogs’ symptoms, according to the news report. The dogs meant to receive medical marijuana are said to be part of an “innovative experiment.”
And while the Israel Medical Cannabis Association veterinarians have reportedly requested medical marijuana for the shelter dogs, Israeli vets do not prescribe medical marijuana to animals.
“If there was reliable, science-backed research [showing how CBD impacts the lives of pets], I would definitely consider it,” Dr. Zeev Gans, former chairman at Israeli Companion Animal Veterinary Association (ICAVA) and currently head of Knowledge Farm Emergency Veterinary Center at Beit Berl, tells NoCamels. “Currently I don’t have this information and it is illegal. But, like any other medication, if I had knowledge that it helped and I needed it, I would use it.”
Still, there are hundreds of products already being marketed to pet owners – many claiming to have CBD properties.
Weedley’s Ben-Mordechai says Israel’s reputation in medical marijuana research puts his company on better footing than the competition.
“We have a number of scientific research studies in the pipeline and we’re now looking to raise funds,” says Ben-Mordechai. “Our advantage in the CBD-for-pets arena is this country’s knowledge in cannabis research. There are hundreds of pet products claiming to have CBD but 80 percent of them barely have any. We’re going to have research-backed products and that is important to us.”
Since the 1990s, there has been government-backed medical marijuana research in Israel.
“We are doing research and development in Israel,” says Ben-Mordechai. “Our aim is to produce pet-oriented products with cannabinoids, not just CBD, for the world.”
Viva Sarah Press is a journalist and speaker. She writes and talks about the creativity and innovation taking place in Israel and beyond. www.vivaspress.com