Overall, an estimated 22.7% of adults have arthritis and as the baby boomer generation ages, that number is only expected to rise.
The same goes for dogs. As their life expectancy goes up, so does their chance of getting arthritis. According to the American Kennel Club, one out of every five dogs in the United States is affected by the condition.
But our furry friends may find comfort in CBD, a non-addictive product derived from hemp (Cannabis sativa). A new study published in the journal PAIN found that CBD for dogs diagnosed with arthritis significantly improved quality of life.
The study was funded in part by a sponsored research agreement between Medterra CBD Inc and Baylor College of Medicine, was led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in collaboration with Medterra CBD.
The results were documented in both owner and veterinarian assessments.
The researchers assessed the potential therapeutic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) for arthritic pain in dogs because their condition closely mimics the characteristics of human arthritis.
"We studied dogs because experimental evidence shows that spontaneous models of arthritis, particularly in domesticated canine models, are more appropriate for assessing human arthritis pain treatments than other animal models. The biological characteristics of arthritis in dogs closely resemble those of the human condition," explained corresponding author Dr. Matthew Halpert, research faculty in the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Baylor.
Two birds, one stone
The results could also prove useful for studying the effect of CBD in humans with arthritis. The authors say that this work supports future scientific evaluation of CBD for human arthritis. “This study supports the safety and therapeutic potential of hemp-derived CBD for relieving arthritic pain and suggests follow-up investigations in humans are warranted,” the authors noted.
"CBD is rapidly increasing in popularity due to its anecdotal health benefits for a variety of conditions, from reducing anxiety to helping with movement disorders," said Halpert, who explained that in 2019, Medterra CBD approached Baylor about conducting research to determine the biological capabilities of several of their CBD products.
In the lab
The research team first measured the effect of CBD on immune responses associated with arthritis, both in human and murine cells grown in the lab and in mouse models. Using Medterra tinctures, they found that CBD treatment resulted in reduced production of both inflammatory molecules and immune cells linked to arthritis.
The researchers also determined that the effect was quicker and more effective when CBD was administered encapsulated in liposomes than when it was administered 'naked.' Liposomes deliver drugs and other substances into tissues at higher rates of absorption.
In a randomized placebo-controlled, double-blinded study, the researchers next assessed the effect of naked and liposome-encapsulated CBD on the quality of life of dogs diagnosed with arthritis.
Twenty dogs in the Houston area were enrolled in the study. The dog owners were randomly provided with identical unidentified medication bottles that contained CBD, liposomal CBD, or a placebo. Neither the owners nor the veterinarian knew which treatment each dog received.
Following four weeks of daily treatment, owners and veterinarians reported on the condition of the dogs. They assessed whether they observed changes in the canine’s pain level, such as changes related to running or the manner in which they walked. They also evaluated the dogs' cell blood count and blood indicators of liver and kidney function before and after the four weeks of treatment.
"We found encouraging results," Halpert said. "Nine of the 10 dogs on CBD showed benefits, which remained for two weeks after the treatment stopped. We did not detect alterations in the blood markers we measured, suggesting that, under the conditions of our study, the treatment seems to be safe."
In both lab tests and mouse models, CBD was found to significantly reduce the production of inflammatory molecules and immune cells associated with arthritis. Subsequently, the study showed that in dogs diagnosed with the condition, CBD treatment significantly improved quality of life.
April 24, 2020 doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001896
“A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of daily cannabidiol for the treatment of canine osteoarthritis pain”
Authors: C. Verrico et al.