Cannabidiol or CBD, a non-addictive product derived from hemp (cannabis), is rapidly increasing in popularity due to its anecdotal health benefits for a variety of conditions, from reducing anxiety to helping with movement disorders.
In 2019, Medterra CBD approached Dr. Mathew Halpert, research faculty in the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine, to conduct independent scientific studies to determine the biological capabilities of several of its products.
“About a year later we have the results of the first scientific studies that assess the potential therapeutic effects of CBD for arthritic pain in dogs, and the results could lead the way to studying its effect in humans,” Halpert said.
Halpert and his colleagues focused first on dogs because their condition closely mimics the characteristics of human arthritis, the leading cause of pain and disability in the U.S. for which there is no effective treatment.
The effect of CBD on canine arthritis
In this study, Halpert and his colleagues 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 delivered encapsulated in liposomes than when it was administered ‘naked.’ Liposomes are artificially formed tiny spherical sacs that are used to deliver drugs and other substances into tissues at higher rates of absorption.
Halpert and colleagues next assessed the effect of naked and liposome-encapsulated CBD on the quality of life of dogs diagnosed with 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,” Halpert said.
Arthritis is a common condition in dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, it affects one out of five dogs in the United States.
The 20 client-owned dogs enrolled in the study were seen at Sunset Animal Hospital in Houston. 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.
After four weeks of daily treatment, owners and veterinarians reported on the condition of the dogs, whether they observed changes in the animals’ level of pain, such as changes related to running or gait. The dogs’ cell blood count and blood indicators of liver and kidney function also were evaluated 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.”
The findings support conducting studies to evaluate CBD for the treatment of human arthritis.
Read all the details of this work in the journal PAIN.
Other contributors to this work include Chris D. Verrico, Shonda Wesson, Vanaja Konduri, Colby Hofferek, Jonathan Vazquez-Perez, Emek Blair, Kenneth Dunner Jr, Pedram Salimpour, William K. Decker. The authors are associated with Baylor College of Medicine, Sunset Animal Hospital, Valimenta Labs, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Boston University School of Medicine.
This study was funded in part by a sponsored research agreement between Medterra CBD Inc and Baylor College of Medicine. This project also was supported in part by the Cytometry and Cell Sorting Core at Baylor College of Medicine with funding from the NIH (grants AI036211, CA125123 and RR024574).
Decker, Halpert and Konduri declare their ownership stakes in Diakonos Research, Ltd, an unrelated immuno-oncology company. Additionally, Halpert is a paid scientific advisor for Medterra CBD.