Top Notch Toys June 2017


and rats similar to what anti-anxiety medications produce. Studies in rats show CBD decreases memory loss with aging and actually regenerates neu- rons in the memory-part of the brain. Other studies show CBD helps reduces seizures, alleviate arthritis, inflamma- tion and pain; decreases nausea and vomiting, promotes bone growth and healing, discourages cancer spread and growth, controls autoimmune prob- lems, reduces gastrointestinal mobil- ity and inflammation (both important for controlling IBD), has potent action against many bacteria. In addition, it may (the evidence is less convincing for these) help reduce body weight, may improve recover from spinal inju- ry, may reduce obsessive-compulsive behaviors, may reduce itchiness and, possibly, is instrumental in combat- ing liver disease, kidney disease and lower urinary tract infections (the evi- dence for these last examples is more tenuous). CBD affects so many diverse systems because it controls every other neurotransmitter, which in turn control various specialized systems. While personal anecdotes are notori- ously suspect, a study from the Universi- ty of Colorado Veterinary School asked 457 dog and cat owners if CBD helped their pets with various ailments: 95% replied it helped with pain relief; 92% replied it lessened seizure activity; 92% reported it decreased inflammation; 88% reported it aided sleep; 83% report- ed it relieved anxiety; 82% reported it decreased vomiting; 79% reported it helped with muscle spasm; 73% report- ed it helped inhibit tumor activity; 71% reported it helped with digestive tract problems; and 62% reported it helped with skin conditions. Medical marijuana, with THC, is illegal to use on dogs, even where it’s legal for people. Veterinarians cannot prescribe it. Hemp, with CBD, is legal. No, you don’t need to meet a pusher in a dark alley to get some. You can just send off on your friendly Internet. I rec- ommend especial- ly since they offer a coupon code (“Can- nabisScience”) for 30% off I was able to include in the book! No, I don’t plan to dump my tradi- tional drugs in the trash. But I do plan to consider adding CBD oil when appro- priate. And that appears to be pretty often when it comes to what ails you— and your dog.

can help? Instead of publishing my find- ings in the great CBD expose, I ended up publishing them in a book, Canna- bis and CBD Science for Dogs (www. Here’s the Cliff Notes version: Let’s start with understanding how the nervous system, or at least part of it, works. The cells in your brain and ner- vous system communicate with each other by means of both electric impulses and various types of chemicals called neurotransmitters. The electric impulses move down each nerve cell. When they get to the ending of a nerve cell, they induce the release of specific chemicals that then travel across a tiny gap and fit into a receptor site on the beginning of the next nerve cell. In this way a nerve impulse travels throughout the body. There are many types of these chem- icals, called neurotransmitters. But the receptor sites on particular nerve cells only recognize particular kinds of neurotransmitters. Think of it as a lock and key, or puzzle piece system: a neurotransmitter must have a cer- tain shape to fit into a matching site or it just won’t work. But some imposter chemicals are close enough to also fit into the same sites; we use these drugs to fool the nervous system into stimulat- ing more receptor sites. Or the chemi- cals may be close enough in shape to stick in the receptor site but not exact enough to stimulate the next nerve cell to fire, effectively blocking the real neurotransmitters. Thus we can use to these drugs to either increase or reduce certain nerve signals in the body. This is the concept behind many pain killers, stimulants, sleeping pills and mood altering drugs. Once a nerve cell releases a neu- rotransmitter, how does it know when to stop? It turns out that a second type of neurotransmitter is released from the receiving nerve cell. It travels back across the gap (“upstream”) and fits into receptor cells on the first nerve cell that effectively signal it to quit releasing the initial neurotransmitter. Just as with the other neurotransmitters, similarly shaped chemicals can fit or partially fit into the receptor sites, mimicking or

blocking these inhibitory neurotrans- mitters’ effects. The chemicals that fit into these sites are the cannabinoids. Just as the body produces its own (endogenous) neurotransmitters, it also produces its own cannabinoids (called endogenous cannabinoids or endocan- nibinoids). Just a fancy way of saying it makes them itself. Exogenous can- nabinoids are the ones made outside the body—by plants—that mimic the body’s own cannabinoids and fit into the cannabinoid receptors. The endocannabinoid system con- sists of a group of specialized receptors in the brain and peripheral nervous system of all animals, from earthworms to humans—and dogs. It works like a master regulator, telling other neu- rotransmitters when to speed up or calm down, directing some to fight problems and others to restore the body to its natural state. For example, they tell the immune system when to fight an infection and when to stop when it’s destroyed. Think of it as a master ther- mostat, regulating a variety of physi- ological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, nausea, mood, memory and inflammation. Endocannabinoid receptors are influenced by cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana. Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes in people and animals for centuries. It was widely marketed by major pharmaceuti- cals until the 1937 Marihuana Act. In the 1960s the cannabinoid THC was discovered and got all the credit— and it is the one responsible for the high you get from marijuana. But it’s far from the only cannabinoid with medicinal properties. More recently another can- nabinoid, called cannabidiol (CBD), is getting credit for many if not most of the medicinal benefits. CBD doesn’t get you high and it comes from hemp, not marijuana. More than 13,000 journal articles about cannabinoids and more than 1500 of just CBD have been published to date. That’s way too many to cover here, although the book does a bet- ter job! Laboratory studies show CBD exerts an anti-anxiety effect on humans

48 • T op N otch T oys , J une 2017

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