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CBD—What Is It and How Does It Work?

With the spike in popularity of CBD products for both horses and humans, many people are still wondering what exactly CBD is and how it works for such a variety of problems. Taylor Reazin, national account manager for Plantaceacbd/Kahm CBD and avid barrel racer, kindly took some time to answer the most common questions she gets about CBD and provide a basic guide to CBD products.

CBD vs. THC, Hemp vs. Marijuana

“All of our products are derived from the hemp plant, which is a cousin to marijuana—they’re both cannabis sativa plants. The difference between hemp and marijuana is the hemp plant is very high CBD and extremely low THC (the chemical most responsible for the psychological effects of marijuana—the “high”). It has to be less than 0.3 THC. Marijuana is a higher THC and a combination of CBD. All of our products are CBD-extracted from the hemp plant. Federally, the law says the hemp plant is legal as long as it’s 0.3 or less THC.

“A lot of people don’t know that CBD is naturally derived. It’s not modified, it’s just extracted from the hemp plant. It’s easily absorbed by the body. It’s safe—we don’t have a toxic level that we know of. My dog ate the whole package of CBD treats and he’s alive and well! It’s an all-natural product and as far as we know, we haven’t had any pushback or negative effects.”

Types of CBD

“One difference people don’t really understand is isolate, broad spectrum and full spectrum. That’s three types of CBD. Isolate is only the CBD molecule, broad spectrum is CBD molecule and turpenes, which allow it to be more effective, and full spectrum actually contains the legal level of THC in it. Most of our products are broad spectrum, and some of our topicals are full spectrum. We do have a couple isolates—our gummies for humans are a good starting point, it’s just the CBD molecule in isolate. All of our products are from the hemp plant that is less than 0.3 THC, which is the legal limit.”

How CBD Works in the Body

“It works on neurons in the brain. Every mammal is born with an endocannabinoid receptor in the body; they’re all over the place. There’s a ton in the brain, which is why it works so well is because there’s so many receptors that respond to it. They go all the way to the gut and down the feet. It works similarly in people, horses, dogs. There’s receptors all throughout your body, and if you have an imbalance in any of those receptors, this is feeding them and allowing the body to get back to homeostasis.”

The serving size of CBD pellets is much smaller than many think, making it the most economical way to supplement your horse with CBD. Photo by Blanche Schaefer.

What Issues Can Feeding CBD Help Solve?

“CBD is used for a multitude of different things, but mainly chronic pain, anxiety, digestion, moody mares, things like that. The way CBD works is on the brain and on the immune system, so anything that can be connected to that it will work on. Our most common uses are for anxiety and pain. Short-term use, oils are popular for pre-race anxiety. It’s given one hour before you run. Pellets are the most cost-effective way to feed CBD to horses—ours are 75mg per serving and that’s fed daily. We have some people who use pellets pre-race as well, but for convenience the oils are pretty easy to dose whereas the pellets are usually given in the feed. We also have a few other products that are topicals—we have a liniment spray, which has Nano-sized CBD, and what that does is make the molecule small enough to be absorbed into the skin. It’s safe under wraps, safe under Back On Track; it’s non-burning and non-irritating so it can actually be put on an open wound as well.”

Taylor’s Personal Results

“We’ve seen so much in anxiety. Personally, that’s how I came to work for the company [Plantacea/Kahm CBD]. I bought some [CBD product] a year ago, and it changed my horse’s life. She was one with chronic anxiety, being dosed with anti-anxiety pharmaceutical medications. I wanted to rodeo and those weren’t allowed, so I was looking for a different option that was natural. I started using it and it literally changed her world—she is amazing—and I hear those stories every day. I hear chronic pain a lot—horses with severe arthritis, navicular, stocking up in the stall. We just got in a story about a pony who had chronic, severe laminitis, couldn’t get out of a slow walk for the last two years of his life. He was on Previcoxx daily, Bute, and the Bute was messing with his stomach. You’ll have to check it out on our Facebook page, but we have a video of him running around bucking after being on the product a couple of weeks, so it’s pretty cool to see those results.”

Editor’s Note: As with any supplement—no matter which brand you choose—it’s important to do your research into who developed the product, how it’s is made, how the ingredients are sourced and what added ingredients are included. If you’re still unsure, talk to your veterinarian or consult an equine dietician to come up with a plan that’s right for your horse.

By Blanche Schaefer