A Fairly Thorough Review of Hemp, CBD and Ending With Advice for Pets

To understand where we are with CBD, why mothers have to walk the length of Ireland to get permission to use a herbal product that prevented epilepsy in her child suffering 300 back-breaking and life-endangering seizures a month, an entirely natural product that is supported massively by the science as beneficial in the treatment of so many health issues and best of all proven to be absolutely safe and side-effect free, we need to understand what is hemp and why the bad press. So bear with me while we learn about this amazing plant and the corporate crookedness that has stolen it from you.

What if I told you there was a miracle plant available to us today, one that is not only the most versatile but also the most efficient and sustainable in a pound for pound comparison with any other bar perhaps seaweed, a plant that can be grown in pretty much any soil, requires no pesticides and takes very little maintenance to grow, but we weren’t using it today for no logical reason whatsoever, you might ask me what I’d been smoking.

I think the above paragraph sums up the amazing benefits, the incomprehensible ridiculousness and the general confusion about hemp.

a field of hemp

What is Hemp?

Hemp is one of the oldest cultivated plants on earth, stemming back more than 5000 years. There are broadly three groups of Cannabis varieties being cultivated today. One is cultivated for its fibre content (this is classic “hemp” or industrial hemp), another for its high seed yield (which is used in the oil and food industries) and one for medicinal or recreational purposes (the one you smoke for a pleasant feeling as it has been cultivated to be high in psychoactivete trahydrocannabinol (THC), and now more commonly called Marajuana, or marjane, skunk, the sticky-icky, the chronic, dope, ganje, the herb).

To the untrained eye, Marajuana and industrial hemp may look practically identical, it’s just that one will get you high while the other absolutely will not. That’s first and foremost.

Hemp Uses

True hemp has been cultivated specifically for it’s fibre content. It has been used effectively in practically every industry you can think of, from making hard wearing textiles, ropes, animal food and bedding to paper, plastics and construction materials as well as numerous, effective, side-effect free medicinal products. Hemp can be used to make strong, durable and environmentally friendly plastic products including plastics bags and utensils as well light weight but highly durable car panels. It can be used to make concrete (hempcrete – which is three times more resistant to earthquakes than concrete and is fire retardant). Hemp is used to make fibre board, insulation, carpet, furniture and roof tiles. It’s used to make better paper and cardboard than pulped trees as well as highly durable clothing and nappies. Best of all, these products are at best compostable and at worst, when dumped, will return quickly to the earth from whence it came.

In terms of efficiency and sustainability, hemp is top of the class. Hemp is 100% efficient which in product-speak means it can be consumed and renewed in large quantities endlessly, without leaving a negative impact on the environment (as opposed to “highly efficient” which are products that are ‘green’ and environmentally kind, yet are not endless, and “low or non-efficient” which are those products that are not sustainable at all, depleting natural resources, and leaving a negative impact on the environment).

the many uses of hemp

 

In fact, from an agricultural and earth perspective, it is a dream. Hemp is easily grown in huge quantities and does not need pesticides. Like all the plants it cleans the air but it also nourishes the very soil it grows in, adding to the soil, not taking away from it. In fact, hemp as a NEGATIVE carbon foot print. Some stats on growing hemp:

 

  • While many testify that 1 acre of hemp produces as much as 2-4 acres of trees, this is difficult to verify, best estimates are that it is in the very least equal in fibre production. However, paper made of hemp lasts longer, can be recycled more times and requires less chemicals in manufacture.

  • Further benefiting tree life and soil erosion as a whole, hemp can be used to produce fiberboard that is stronger and lighter than wood, reducing the need to chop forests. And while trees take years to grow, hemp is ready for harvesting only 120 days after it is planted. thereby reducing topsoil loss and water pollution caused by soil runoff.

  • 1 acre of hemp can produce as much fiber as 2 to 3 acres of cotton. Moreover, fibre is stronger and softer than cotton, lasts twice as long and will not mildew. Cotton grows only in warmer climates and requires more water than hemp. Hemp is frost tolerant, requires only moderate amounts of water, and grows in cooler climes. In fact, 50% of the world’s pesticides/herbicides are used in the production of cotton. Hemp requires no pesticides, no herbicides, only a bit of fertiliser.

  • Hemp seeds make up almost half the weight of an adult plant. These seeds are an excellent food stuff, for animals and humans. It’s seeds can be ground to make an excellent, nutritious, gluten-free flour (in comparison to wheat) and hemp seed oil has the perfect 3:1 ratio of omega fatty acids.

  • Hemp seed oil can be used to make a suitable, environmentally friendly bases for paints, varnishes, detergents, lubricating oils and inks.

  • It can also be converted into a clean-burning ethanol fuel, like corn, only hemp produces more biomass than any other plant species, including corn, making it the most viable green-fuel option from a biomass perspective.

Practically the only thing hemp does not do is get you high.

Why was hemp banned?

Prior to the 1800s, it was very common to see Hemp products as mainly paper and textiles. It was the dominant plant grown in the US, in fact it used to be law that if you owned land you had to grow it. Thomas Jefferson, a founding father of the US, was a hemp farmer. After the invention of the cotton gin in 1973, industrial hemp retreated in favour, largely as cotton was now easier made into textiles. This all changed in the early 1900’s when George Schlichten introduced the Hemp Decorticator which revolutionised the hemp industry, making it much easier to process.

Unfortunately this now made the harmless hemp an immediate threat to a LOT of wealthy, very influential people, all of whom had interests in the textiles field. Put out by the resurgence of hemp, by the 1930’s these guys ganged up and decided to put hemp to bed.

Here are the major players and how it played out:

  • The DuPonts, according to Forbes magazine, are one of the wealthiest families in American. They made their money from chemicals. It happened that DuPont made the chemicals that were used in processing of paper. They also made lots of the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, which cotton depended on. They also made the chemicals for the plastics industry, which was beginning to take off.

  • William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper publisher who built the US’s largest newspaper chain and media company, owned a lot of land growing trees as well as the US’s largest timber mills to produce the necessary paper for his company.

  • Hearst’s investments were backed by Mellon Bank.

  • Unfortunately for the world, the owner of Mellon Bank was also the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury at that time, Andrew Mellon. He was also one of DuPont’s backers as well.

  • Worse still, Mellon’s niece was married to Harry Anslinger. Harry was the very racist director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now the Drug Enforcement Administration). He was at a bit of a loss for something for himself and, it turns out, the family, to do after the Alcohol Prohibition ended in 1933 and funding was cut for his department.

  • The stage now set, Mellon created a new division of the federal government, called it the Bureau of Narcotics, and made little Harry the new head of the program and leading advocate of “marijuana prohibition”.

Harry Anslinger
This image was taken from "Harry Anslinger: How a racist hate-monger masterminded America’s War on Drugs" https://timeline.com/harry-anslinger-racist-war-on-drugs-prison-industrial-complex-fb5cbc281189

Anslinger’s first move was to stop using the term hemp. Everyone, bar these rich guys above, loved hemp, so he borrowed the term “marijuana” from the Mexicans. Now we were talking about a “different” plant.

Next you need to demonise it. With unfettered access to the world’s biggest media platform at the time via Uncle Hearst, he began a very effective campaign of lies and rumors about the inherent but completely unproven dangers of marajuana smoking. A favourite was to highlight how blacks and Mexicans seemed to become violent while smoking it, easing the term narcotic in there.

In 1937 Anslinger testified before Congress stating:

“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind…most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes.”

Harry J. Anslinger

Copious stories began to emerge from Hearst’s papers about ‘evil marijuana’, terrible accounts of rapes and murder while ‘under the influence’ of marijuana. It sold a lot of papers.

Next came several propaganda films designed to stoke fear, films like ‘Marijuana: Assassin of Youth’ in 1935, ‘Marijuana: The Devil’s Weed’ in 1936, and easily the most famous “Reefer Madness’ in 1936. Reefer Madness is hilarious, and really has to be seen to be believed. Funded by the booze industry (a rival stimulant), it depicted a man going crazy from smoking marijuana and murdering his family with an axe. It ends with the bold words on the screen TELL YOUR CHILDREN!

On April 14, 1937, the Prohibitive Marijuana Tax Law was brought directly to the “House Ways and Means” Committee, the only one could introduce a bill to the House floor without it being debated by other committees. Marijuana prohibition began in September of the same year, banning its sale, production and use, and hemp was sucked right down with it, being the same plant species and all.

what is CBD Oil?

All mammals have an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter system (ECS) running throughout our body. Like most metabolic systems in our body, it is a series of locks (in this case cannabinoid receptors) and keys (cannabinoids). The key goes in the lock and it functions. Cannabinoid receptors are found all throughout your body, largely in and around the central nervous system and brain but also under the skin, all over the digestive tract and even in the reproductive organs. The ECS seems to be responsible for keeping our whole body “in balance”, for want of a better term, functioning in mood, memory, immune function, motor control, pain perception, appetite and sleep. You must feed the ECS with cannabinoids or unbalance and disease can emerge. However, cannabinoids are an essential nutrient, meaning you can’t make them yourself. They must be consumed either by consuming plants that contain cannabinoids such as the Canabis plant but also various herbs such as echinacea and liverwort as well as chocolate (Theobroma Cacao) and black pepper), or you consume animals that feed upon this material.

With the removal of hemp from the food chain, our meat is no longer a source and not a whole lot of us are consuming fresh herbs such as echinacea and liverwort (though we’re getting a fair amount of chocoloate into us, it is the highly processed, highly tasty but highly useless kind!).

Enter cannabidiol or CBD oil for short. Produced from regular hemp, CBD is one of the most prevalent chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. It is completely non-psychoactive and thus legal to import as long as the THC content is below 0.3%. While it is getting all the focus of late, it is but one of the fancy things going there, we could easily be talking about CBC, CBCA, CBDA, CBG and CBGA, and a whole host of other bits, but for now CBD has the spotlight.

how CBD oil is extracted

Studies Proving Harmless CBD is Effective for a Dizzying Array of Illnesses...

Some months back, alarmed after reading 400 Irish kids had been harmed by the epilepsy drug sodium valproate, I wrote an article on called “Look how many studies I found that support the use of CBD in a range of neurological conditions of humans and rats”, with particular focus on its incredible success in treating epilepsy. In this piece I cited 33 high-level clinical studies and review studies that amply demonstrated CBD was highly effective in the treatment of a great range of neurological and inflammatory issues, including:

  • Drug-resistant Epilepsy (6 studies, some were reviews of multiple studies): where almost 50% of children experienced a reduction of seizure frequency
  • Cancer (5 studies, all mice): where CBD oil “almost completely reduced the development of metastatic nodules caused by injection of human lung carcinoma cells”, reducing tumour volume by 60%, lead to a significant decrease in colon cancer polyps in mice, reduced cell viability, increased cancer cell death and inhibited metastasis. All with no side effects noted by the researchers.
  • Parkinson’s (3 studies): where patients showed significant improvement of quality of life (“quality of life” is defined as mobility, activities of daily living (ADL), emotional well-being, stigma, social support, cognition, communication and bodily discomfort)
  • Schizophrenia (4 studies): where CBD was pitted against some of the most effective treatment options for schizophrenia. While both treatments were effective (no significant difference in total score), CBD scored less side effects including less serum prolactin increase (a predictor of sexual dysfunction), fewer extrapyramidal symptoms (these include symptoms such as continuous spasms and muscle contractions, motor restlessness, rigidity and slowness of movement, tremor and irregular, jerky movements) and less weight gain
  • Alzheimers (4 studies): where CBD was able to reduce or even fully prevent some symptoms of the disease in humans and mice including the development of a social recognition deficit
  • Multiple Sclerosis (3 studies): where CBD oil reduced the severity of spasticity in MS patients
  • Anxiety and Stress (3 studies): where CBD oil reduced both behavioral and physiological (e.g., heart rate) measures of stress and anxiety, aided in public speaking and reduced post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Stroke (1 study)
  • Graft Transplants (1 study)
  • Diabetes (1 study)
  • Joint Swelling (1 study)

Incredible eh? And all these benefits were achieved with little to no side effects. In fact, a review of 25 studies on the safety and efficacy of CBD did not identify significant side effects across a wide range of dosages, including acute and chronic dose regimens, using various modes of administration.

Now, at this point, you might be looking for a study in dogs. Unfortunately, I can offer you little, though I did like the sounds of this small venture by Stephanie McGrath, MS, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology), assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She investigated the potential benefits of CBD in treating idiopathic seizures in a small number (n=16) dogs (where all patients were still receiving conventional anti-epileptic drug therapy) and found:

a significant 89% reduction in seizure frequency in dogs receiving CBD at 2.5 mg/kg q12h compared to a 43% reduction in the control group.

Sounds promising. With near identical systems to ours, why would you be surprised. Another study found that cannabinoid-containing eyedrops have potential for the treatment of glaucoma in dogs.

Aaaand that’s about it.

What I can tell you is that dogs too have an ECS system. This means they need to ingest cannabinoids to keep this ECS system happy. So we decided to put it to the test.

putting CBD to the Test On some "lost Cause" Dogs cases...

This was the first little trial we did years ago with a range called CannaPet. The results can be summarised as follows – of the six specialling selected candidates (in bad need of a remedy), we heard back from four. Three of the four saw a very marked, often dramatic improvement in their conditions. One saw very little improvement. None saw side effects and all would recommend it to a friend.

That’s encouraging. 

We did another little test with some Irish CBD from Neil of www.recoverycbd.ie Again we asked for dogs with long, apparently, untreatable inflammatory-based health conditions, ranging from terrible arthritis to anxiety. Of the five lost causes we found and tried it on, the results were again pretty impressive:

Dog 1. Pain from arthritis.

Results overall– very good.

CBD performed as effectively as their standard drug Loxicom. “I would not have been able to go without the Loxicom for more than 3-4 days before but since starting the oil they have not had any painkillers at all and it has been 4 weeks. They are in great form. I would say they seem as good (pain-wise) as they were when they were on their painkillers…she even managed to put her two front paws on me when she was looking for treats, leaving her standing on her back legs which she has not done in years”.

 

Dog 2. Crippling spinal arthritis.

Results overall – pretty good.

“She seems more stable and robust since starting on the cbd oil.”

 

Dog 3. Arthritis from hip dysplasia.

Results overall – no improvement.

 

Dog 4. Chronic pain (spondylosis) and bladder issues.

Results overall – excellent.

“He seems far more coordinated in his hind legs and more willing to move about (he even managed to jump onto the freezer this morning to reach a snuffle mat! Even before his diagnosis, he couldn’t do that!)…the medication he’s on hasn’t touched the side and I was seriously considering euthanasia as a kinder option but CBD seems to be a miracle”.

 

Dog 5. High stress and anxiety.

Results overall – not amazing.

Overall, not entirely effective though the owner noted the dog was calmer around other dogs and much more forgiving if they intrude on her personal space.

 

There were other little comments in the feedback provide, such as “…he had a small boil like spot on his rear inner ankle, it’s been there for about 1 year, two weeks into canna and it’s gone!”, all of which adds up to another pretty successful trial.

Why / how could you ignore such information?!

CBD, in Conclusion

There is no such thing as a cure-all but if I had a dog that was in serious distress for any of the inflammatory issues mentioned above I would certainly give CBD a go. It’s never cheap, around €50, but it can yield incredible results, to the point the people are ringing you in disbelief. However it can also appear to underperform, though this could be dose-related, handler related or time-related, we really don’t know. Unfortunately, a majority of the most recent test subjects above were arthritis patients, something that can be so strongly structurally related that CBD may not be able to shine through. If I could do that test again I would seek out ten dogs with epilepsy (or cancer) where I would expect a much greater and certainly easier to measure the effect.

CBD has massive success with epilepsy and it has received a lot of coverage for it in the Irish press of late, most famously with brave Ava (7) and her amazing Mum Vera Twomey. Ava went from a horrendous cocktail of the most potent anti-seizures chemicals, the best doctors could come up with, to 3 seizures a month on CBD but who then had to fight the Irish government to get a particular CBD with slightly more THC in it which was suspected (and later proved) to eradicate her issue. This has since been successfully resolved. More recently Noreen O’Neil who, after obtaining and administering CBD, now states “the seizures are gone – his smiles are back”.

In fact, I am yet to meet or read a single study where CBD did not help a human suffering seizures, so I would expect the very same in our dogs.

Sadly, in all their wisdom, the powers that be are now discussing whether they should put all CBD products “behind the counter”, in other words, available by prescription only. CBD sellers, certainly in Ireland, are no longer able to make any claims whatsoever on their sites. They are not permitted to share testimonials and they are not even allowed to highlight benefits found in studies if they are selling the product at the same time.

Can you believe that?!

As raw feeders most of us, I guess we can, very sadly.

You have to ask yourself who is this in the interests of? We know it’s entirely natural. We know we can grow it here in Ireland with ease. We know it’s entirely harmless and symptom-free. And we know it is highly effective in a great many cases. So why do we need a foreign pharmaceutical company to process and package and sell it back to us at exorbitant prices?

I’ll tell you why, and it’s the same reason the poor old Duponts wanted hemp banned in the first place. Money. Hemp is a plentiful, natural product that has many benefits with none of the side effects bar one – it dents the profits of a soulless multimillion someplace. After all, a kid going from 300 seizures a month to none thanks to a harmless plant extract is a serious dent in someone’s revenues and they have to recoup that somehow.

***

If you have a stiff senior dog, Ariane Foster of The Weed Solution is stumping up 5 free bottles of pet CBD. Just go to our Facebook page and comment below the post, briefly describing your dog and give their age. Ariane will choose the most appropriate candidates. Offer closes Sun 12th Sep 2021. 

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