Understanding Equine Endocannabinoid System: How CBD Treats Interact With Horses

CBD is gaining popularity as an herbal remedy for pets, such as dogs, cats, and even horses. Here are the basics of using CBD for addressing horse health issues.

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Cannabidiol (CBD) entered the mass market over a decade ago, and today, people have access to a wide range of CBD-infused products that don’t require any prescription or medical professional’s advice. CBD is a safe, non-addictive, and non-psychoactive compound derived from hemp, so trying it out and seeing how it works for stress, anxiety, pain, or insomnia doesn’t conceal any health risks. Therefore, the use of CBD products is quickly expanding due to people’s rising interest in alternative medicine and herbal, non-addictive variants for chronic conditions.

Since CBD is known to have painkilling and sedative properties, along with anti-inflammatory effects, its use has gone far beyond human use. Today’s CBD consumers experiment with CBD products for pets, such as dogs, cats, and even horses, as the availability of CBD and numerous anecdotal accounts of CBD’s efficiency for animal anxiety, joint issues, and pain circulate online.

So, if you think CBD treats are a product for cats and dogs only, you need to catch up in the CBD market’s development. The present-day industry is rich and diverse, offering precisely formulated and dosed CBD products for other animals as well, including horses. Here is a detailed guide on using CBD to boost your horse’s health and wellness. You can find more detailed data and product recommendations at https://askgrowers.com/blog/best-cbd-treats-for-horses-health.

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Research on CBD Use in Horses

The use of CBD in horses is a relatively new sphere of this compound’s application. It was previously actively used by humans, with further expansion of CBD applications to companion animals, such as cats and dogs. Yet, with the recognition of stress and anxiety’s universally negative influences on all animal breeds, CBD research expanded to cover other animal species and offer objective clinical evidence for animal owners and veterinarians. Here are several recent clinical studies addressing horses in particular and offering tangible findings on the subject of CBD’s mechanisms of action on the horse’s organism.

  • The 2021 study by Ryan et al. found that horses tolerated CBD well, with no significant issues on the part of cardiac or gastrointestinal systems observed. The horses also didn’t exhibit any behavioral abnormalities that could suggest the psychoactive impact of CBD on their ECSs. CBD was well absorbed, with moderate anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Turner et al. studied the effects of CBD on the in vitro lymphocyte pro-inflammatory cytokine production of senior horses in 2021. They determined that CBD administration caused a significant reduction in IFN-ɣ and TNF-α These results suggest that CBD has a tangible effect as an anti-inflammatory agent in horses, and it can be used to address chronic inflammation.
  • The 2022 research of Turner et al. aimed to find out whether there are any adverse side effects of CBD use in senior horses. The researchers examined the pharmacokinetics of CBD in a sample of 8 horses and found no adverse effects from oral and intravenous CBD administration for senior horses.
  • Draeger et al. found that administering CBD supplements to horses reduced their reactivity without changing the heart rate. Based on their findings, the researchers suggested that CBD has considerable potential for use with horses exhibiting reactive behavior.

Thus, as it comes from the cited research findings, most clinical trials have mostly addressed the safety of CBD use in horses without serious longitudinal research on the health benefits of CBD for this animal species. The research gap still needs to be addressed, though the initial findings about CBD’s safety and absence of adverse side effects may become a good starting point for more extensive clinical studies.

Impact of CBD on Equine ECS

CBD is widely known to interact with the user’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which generally works similarly in humans and animals. The ECS is a relatively new discovery, so the clinical community has many unanswered questions about how it works and what the nature of CBD’s interactions with ECS is.

At present, we know that the ECS is the body’s signal system that continually monitors the state of one’s organism and issues alarm signals if something goes wrong. If a problem emerges, the ECS signals to the brain and triggers the body’s response to inflammation, pain, or immunity issues. Thus, the fact that CBD and THC (major cannabis components) interact with ECS receptors in a horse’s body, we can suggest the following mechanism of their action:

  • CB1 receptors are located in the horse’s central nervous system and the body’s organs. They detect and send signals to the brain about pain, nausea, and core motor skills.
  • CB2 receptors are located in the immune system’s cells and peripheral organs of the horse’s body.

These receptors act as switches, and CBD can act upon those switches to deactivate the persistent anxiety or discomfort caused by stressors, pain, or inflammation. Thus, you may consider giving CBD to your horse if you get the following health issues diagnosed:

  • Respiratory issues
  • Laminitis
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Problems with the gastrointestinal tract
  • Inflammation
  • Skin, joint, or bone issues
  • Acute or chronic pain
  • Stress

What Do Vets Think?

Since CBD is witnessing a rise in popularity and use for various medical conditions, both as a herbal remedy and a wellness supplement, there’s nothing surprising that people have started considering the CBD value for their companion animals, including horses. So, veterinarians need to face this trend and develop adequate responses to educate horse owners about the intricacies of CBD use, side effects and benefits their animals can derive from CBD, proper dosing specifically for horses, and the types of CBD products that horses can benefit from.

We recommend doing fast fact-checks and keeping pace with the recent clinical studies’ publications to give horses safe and suitable CBD prescriptions. In any case, CBD is here to stay, and vets should be competent enough to explain the ins and outs of CBD administration to horses without limiting themselves and their clients to traditional medications.

Final Word

The horse’s ECS works essentially the same way as it does in humans. Thus, CBD may produce the same positive effects on the horses’ ECS signaling by relieving their pain, stress, and discomfort resulting from multiple health conditions. Though the body of research is pretty scarce, CBD’s safety and absence of adverse effects have been proven. Thus, horse owners are welcome to explore the CBD value for their companions and try various CBD-infused products to boost their animals’ health and wellness.

The author of this article is Denys Svirepchuk. Denys is a full-time blogger at AskGrowers and a dedicated fan of horses. Thus, Denys is actively researching the potential of CBD use with horses to help them with chronic and acute health problems and boost their overall well-being and vitality with safe, natural remedies.