Dr. Evelyn Kass – Will Hemp Help My Dog with Cancer
Dr. Evelyn KassIntegrative, Holistic Veterinarian
Date Published: 2019-12-03
Date Updated: 2019-12-23
Hemp has been used medicinally for over 5,000 years, but it was only recently that people felt the need to find one active component and use it alone, leaving the rest of the plant behind. While individual components, such as the cannabinoids, do have powerful health benefits in many areas, it leaves us to wonder why nature would put so many health-providing nutrients in one plant if they were not all useful.
CBD is only one of up to 70 cannabinoids found in Cannabis plants, and has displayed some impressive benefits when it comes to cancer. CBD can induce apoptosis, which is programmed cell death that normally occurs when a cell is damaged. The act of apoptosis is not present with cancer cells, which allows the tumors to grow unhindered. CBD can slow the growth of some tumors and decrease the risk of the cancer metastasizing, or spreading, into neighboring tissues. It can even prevent blood vessels from integrating into some tumors, which will effectively limit a tumor’s size by limiting necessary nutrients.
In terms of other components, cannabis is rich in terpenes and bioflavonoids as well. There is significant evidence that terpenes and bioflavonoids contribute to anticancer activity on their own, and may work together in a kind of dance that is much more effective than any individual component.
In addition to these amazing phytochemicals, hemp leaves pack a powerful nutritional punch. The leaves contain significant amounts of iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, fiber and phosphorous. All of these nutrients are important in normal enzyme activity for the immune system as well as feeding a healthy gastrointestinal microbiome which helps to provide protection from cancer.
Unfortunately, there is very little research on hemp or CBD in dogs, except for our understanding that THC is much more toxic to dogs than it is to people. The reason is thought to be that dogs have more receptors for THC in their brain than we do. Any product you use should have a very low THC content, usually less than 0.3%, and this is where third party testing can be very important. Hemp is the general designation for plants with very little THC, but for now regulations are sparse. Be sure you trust the company and never use human medical marijuana on dogs.
With so little specific research on dogs, therapeutic information is based mostly on anecdotal reports; however, since most research in people starts with animal models, it is safe to make some assumptions. Mammals share many of the same receptors that are activated by cannabinoids, in addition to many of the biochemical pathways and cell signaling. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that hemp and CBD would have beneficial effects in dogs, when it comes to cancer, which has been observed in anecdotal reports.
CBD has also been shown to alleviate pain and inflammation in dogs, which in turn is beneficial for most cancer patients. For this reason, it is commonly used as an adjunct treatment for people going through traditional cancer therapies to help with pain, anxiety, nausea and appetite stimulation. Even if you opt for traditional therapy, these potential benefits provide compelling arguments for trying CBD in dogs diagnosed with cancer, especially if it may reduce suffering for your beloved pet.
A discussion about cancer would not be complete without a mention of other natural steps for you to take. We know that the gut is the foundation of health, so it must be addressed in conjunction with any cancer treatment. Food is a major factor in creating a healthy gut microbiome. By choosing a diet that is minimally processed, made with whole food ingredients, and free of genetically modified (GM) ingredients, you can ensure that the food your pet eats will provide all necessary nutrients with minimal toxins. GM crops are often sprayed with herbicides and pesticides that are known carcinogens, the most common GM crops being corn, soy, canola and beets. Wheat and oats are often sprayed with the same herbicide just prior to harvest and contain high residues. These ingredients should be avoided, unless they are organic.
We know that cancer is started by a damaged cell, and that many chemicals in our food and our environment contribute to this type of damage. You can help by removing as many of these factors as possible from your pet’s (and your) environment.
I mentioned herbicides and pesticides earlier, however these are not only found in your pet’s food. These are often sprayed in common areas in your community, where you walk your dog. Check with your community so you know their schedule and be sure to walk your dog in another area at any time they might be actively spraying. If you can, avoid insecticides as well. Unless you have a serious pest problem, do not use pesticides in your home or yard, and only use flea and tick products if you truly have a problem with them. For mild issues, there are more natural, less toxic products available.
Use caution with cleaning agents, fragrances and pet care products. You can check with the environmental working group at ewg.org to find less toxic alternatives. Even if the products are not specifically linked to cancer, any significant toxic effects will decrease your dog’s resilience to fight cancer if it does arise.
So, to answer the question of whether hemp may help your dog with cancer, I do believe it will have beneficial effects, especially when you address the root cause of his or her disease. Hemp can support the body’s natural healing ability; however using hemp, or any product, alone and expecting it to cure cancer is like putting a bandage over an infected wound without cleaning it first. When you clean that wound and then use the bandage to protect the area, the body will use its own resources to heal the wound.
With cancer, we need to clean up the toxins and other stressors that may have contributed to the disease. Give them nutritious, balanced, whole-food meals that provide your pup with all the resources needed. Hemp will add to these resources and let nature do what it does best: heal and support life.