Hemp for Horses
The following post was written by Dr. Joyce Harman, DVM of Harmany Equine Clinic.
One of the most interesting new herbal supplements to come on the market is medicinal hemp with a high Cannabinoid (CBD) content. Hemp is one of the most useful plants in the world, since over 7000 products can be made from it– everything from fuel oil to paper to food, clothing and medicine.
The nutritional value of hemp seeds is well known; just go into a health store and you will see hemp oil and hemp seeds to eat. This form of hemp provides high Omega 3 fatty acids, with many health benefits, such as immune enhancement, healthy skin and more. Horses benefit from 1-2 oz. of the oil or 3-4 oz. of the seeds or meal twice a day.
The medicinal properties of hemp with high CBD levels are just beginning to be explored. There is often confusion about hemp and marijuana. Marijuana contains THC, which is the psychoactive part that makes people high. Hemp does not contain any THC at all, and has no psychoactive properties. Hemp is being sold around the country, though only grown in the USA in a few states, Colorado and California particularly.
Medicinal hemp contains cannabinoids along with many other compounds (called Terpenes) found in many healing herbs. Plants like hops, flax and echinacea share some of these compounds. Mammals have receptors in most internal organs for the Cannabinoids found in hemp. So, when an animal eats plant material containing CBDs, the health of an internal organ can be improved. For example, the gut, the liver and the brain all contain receptors for CBD, so can be helped by feeding hemp.
Hemp can be fed as a supplement in a variety of ways. The most common form seen on the internet is an oil extract. It can become quite costly for horses, but works great for small animals. Hemp can also be fed as a powdered extract, which is more economical. The hemp industry is not regulated and there are many small companies with questionable quality control. Hemp is a weed and can grow anywhere, but for health purposes, you only want organically grown plants. Concentrations of CBD can be variable also, so, to get proper dosing you want a company that can provide accurate information.
Hemp is an exciting herb for horses. Its uses are still being gathered, but it has strong pain-relieving qualities. Anecdotal data suggests it is useful for normalizing joint function, helping with laminitis cases, diabetes, and bone healing. In humans and small animals, it is frequently used for cancer patients. The CBDs cross into the brain and it is helpful for horses that have had trauma, mental and physical, and has human research to show it is useful for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In dogs, it has been helpful with seizures.
For more article by Dr. Harman, please visit her website.