Anxiety in people and pets can be disruptive, even debilitating. Separation anxiety, noise phobias triggered by thunder or fireworks, and fear of strange people, animals, or situations are all too common in pets. Areas of the brain (such as the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus) involved in mood, stress, and fear are rich in cannabinoid receptors. CB1 receptors are known to be involved in mediating fearfulness and anxiety.
Anxiety in people and pets can be disruptive, even debilitating
Mice bred without CB1 receptors, or mice in which other drugs block the CB1 receptors, are constantly fearful and anxious. In contrast, cannabinoids boost CB1 receptors and produce a calming, or anxiolytic, effect.
CBD is known to help treat many human mental health problems, including anxiety. In a 2012 review of studies examining CBD’s effect on anxiety, the authors noted that “recent studies have shown that CBD exerts inherent anxiolytic effects, both in rodent models and, more recently, in patients affected by social phobia.
CBD has been shown to reduce amygdalar responses to fearful stimuli this mechanism may be essential for the anxiolytic effects of this compound in social phobia. Furthermore, CBD has been shown to elicit antipanic effects through the activation of 5-HT1A receptors in the dorsal periaqueductal gray, a critical area for the modulation of emotional reactivity to stress.”
A 2014 review concluded that “the anxiolytic and antipsychotic properties of CBD stand out. CBD’s anxiolytic effects are apparently similar to those of approved drugs to treat anxiety.”7
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AGING AND MENTAL FUNCTION
Pets and people can suffer from loss of mental abilities with age. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is considered the animal correlate to human Alzheimer’s disease. People with Alzheimer’s exhibit dramatically reduced functioning of cannabinoid receptors in the brain. They also have increased plaque deposits along with microglia, which cause inflammation.
Multiple cannabinoids exhibit neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may be important in protecting nerve cells. When rats injected with substances that correlate with plaque formation are also given cannabinoids, they perform better in tests of mental ability than those not receiving cannabinoids. Analyses of their brains show that cannabinoids prevent activation of microglia and thus have reduced inflammation—all leading to preservation of mental function!
Now researchers have found CBD helps regenerate new neurons in the part of the brain (the hippocampus) responsible for memory. And when CBD is administered to animals with memory loss, their memory improves!
Pets suffer from both osteoarthritis (the kind associated with age) and rheumatoid arthritis (the kind associated with autoimmune disease). CBD reduces inflammation and pain, decreasing the symptoms of both types of arthritis. CBD blocks disease progression in a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis, both protecting the joints against severe damage and inhibiting the release of tumor necrosis factor that causes joint inflammation and destruction.
CBD acts as both an immunosuppressant and anti-inflammatory to achieve these results. Other cannabinoids that act as anti-inflammatories are CBG, CBC, CBGA, CBCA, THCA, CBDA, and BCP.
Dogs are prone to several autoimmune disorders, notably autoimmune thyroiditis, immune-mediated hemolytic anemia and/or thrombocytopenia, pemphigus, lupus, some arthritis and possibly sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome, among others. In autoimmune disorders, the body’s immune system attacks normal cells in the body as though they were invaders. It may target cells in the thyroid, blood, joints, eye, skin, and even some internal organs.
Cannabinoids affect almost every component of the immune system, eading researchers to investigate their effect in preventing autoimmune disease. It’s believed that inflammation may set off an immune response, which then either misidentifies the target or fails to turn off. Because cannabinoids decrease inflammation, they may be the first step in preventing autoimmune disease. Other mechanisms may also be at play. For example, cannabinoids alter microRNAs, which are known to act as brakes on the immune system