I am often asked, of late, about the beneficial effects of cannabis, or any derivatives from the marijuana plant, for my patients.
Since my community is one of natural healing and hemp-savvy people, this is not surprising. In addition, many of my (human) clients have experienced relief in some form from the use of various parts of the cannabis plant.
While many people realize they are not going to give “pot” to their pet due to undesired side effects (the very worst being fatal), they still wonder about hemp-derived supplements.
Lucky for my community, I have been working with a pure, body-produced substance called palmitoylethanolamide (PEA for short).
PEA has more times the anti-inflammatory potency of cannabinoids (part of the endocannabinoid system) –or cannabis–with NONE of the side effects or psychotropic effects.
First, let’s look at where musculoskeletal pain comes from and how it worsens into more irreversible conditions in the body:
Although there are many kinds of pain, by far the most common and disruptive to your pet and thus, to you, is musculoskeletal pain.
Over 80% involves some part of the back or neck, with the remaining involving round joints such as hips, knees, and elbows.
The development of pain progresses from initial small injury, reactions of the surrounding muscles and connective tissues, spasms, to constricted blood supply, then comes anoxia, acidic environment, pain modulators with nervous system reaction, and finally stagnation (stopping of processes).
This is painful. If it lasts and no restoration of circulation occurs, then the body will lay down fibrous tissue. This is avascular and replaces healthy normal tissue causing more adhesions and constriction-then restricted movement, not to mention more pain.
If the inflammation and fibrous tissue issues are still not addressed, the body then tries to stabilize the affected, painful areas, especially when this occurs between the vertebral bodies (in the spine). This progresses from fibrous tissues to the migration and formation of laying down new bone. So now you have the first bone spurs, then eventually, bony bridges between the vertebrae.
This fusion of areas of the spine is the foundation of much pain and lameness that we see in small animals. The pain can sometimes spread to the joints in their wrists and ankles.
If we can address these issues far before the fiber and bone is laid down, you have a HUGE window of prevention and reversal of this whole process.
Common Sources of Pain and Distress in Dogs (PEA-responsive):
- Neck and spine problems
- Ear inflammation/pain
- Stifle/knee pain
Common Sources of Pain and Distress in Cats:
- Neck and spine pain (very common in cats)
- Arthritis of the knees
- Seizures (of non-tumor origin)
Mammals have an “endocannabinoid” system that produces this substance-PEA-naturally. Chronic stress, inflammation, and other dysfunctions can lead to low production of endogenous PEA.
Positive Effects of PEA
Used for many years already in Europe, PEA has had profound and remarkable anti-inflammatory effects on the humans and pets using it. It is markedly anti-inflammatory, very safe, with minimal to no side-effects, and can be combined with all other medications and drugs. (Always check with your vet or doctor before taking any sort of pill).
Some features of PEA include:
- Painkiller and anti-inflammatory compound
- Anticonvulsant activity
- Addresses nerve pain
- Reduced scar tissue formation
- Aids in treatment of glaucoma
- Produced in our cells, natural compound
- Protects cells
- Proven to be effective and safe in many clinical trials in more than
- 5000 patients tested- with no documented adverse drug interactions
- Can be combined with any other compound
- Available as a capsule and as a cream
Some additional natural and western (medications) that can be used individually and in combination with PEA for pain:
- Turmeric (with black pepper)
- Anti-inflammatory herbs
- Glucosamine/chondroitin (injections work best, followed by oral supplements)
- Muscle relaxant medication (can work in tandem with modalities such as acupuncture or chiropractic as well)
- Noni poultices
- NSAIDS-Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
PEA Helps Treat Back Pain
One of the things I find most intriguing about the cannabinoids and PEA is that PEA can replace steroids, one of the more powerful and problematic treatments for back problems. However, if chronic pain is severe, a more integrative approach may be necessary for your pet.
I am asked if Cannabidiol (CBD) is the same. It is different as it derives from the plant (as opposed to the body) and it works through a different mechanism. Because it is from the cannabis plant, there may be varying psychotropic effects, albeit small.
Narcotics, opioids, non-steroidal drugs all act via different mechanisms than the PEA.
How Cats Benefit from Using PEA
A note about CATS: Cats metabolize many western medications very differently than dogs. They cannot tolerate most non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and can have strong negative reactions to antihistamines (for allergies). With such a narrow range of options, the natural substances, and specifically PEA, has been very promising. And since cats groom quite a bit, the use of essential oils or rubs can be dangerous.
Since my background includes Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, I make sure to take into account the “constitution” of a pet when I’m treating them.
This can be a complex subject, but simply, think about breeds and how they look. A Labrador is often an “excess” dog. They have big, red tongues and have heavy features. They can hold heat, specifically DAMP heat.
A thin, older Maltese is often a “deficient” animal and is prone to COLD. Thus I talk to people about avoiding environmental conditions that increase pain in that particular body.
Keeping labs cooler, using foods that cool their body, while keeping the Maltese warm and feeding them carbohydrates that produce heat– these can all enhance the results of natural pain control.
We Offer Holistic Animal Care
I also offer acupuncture, chiropractic, cold laser therapy and Myofascial release as natural physical adjustments that are used to speed up and help with health results.
If you’re interested in learning more about our holistic animal care, please contact us.