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CBD For Older Dogs: Discussing New ‘Pain’ Study On Dogs & CBD

CBD For Older Dogs: Discussing New ‘Pain’ Study On Dogs & CBD
Ministry of Hemp Podcast

 
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There’s growing evidence that CBD can help older dogs, and today we talk to an expert.

First in this episode of the Ministry of Hemp podcast, Matt starts out talking about CBD scams and false claims to watch out for, based on a recent article by our editor Kit O’Connell.

Today, our host Matt talks with Dr. Matthew Halpert about a new study he coauthored in the scientific journal PAIN. This research looked at whether CBD can help aging dogs with osteoarthritis. One of our Top CBD Brands, Medterra, partnered with the researchers on this study.

Their conversation touches on some new and exciting evidence showing CBD’s ability to reduce inflammation, a new CBD delivery system that could change the way we take CBD, and the weird biological origins of bleach.

This is episode 50 of the Ministry of Hemp podcast! Thank you for listening, and sharing our podcast with your friends.

About Dr. Matthew Halpert

Equipped with a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Dr. Halpert is the Director of Research & Development at Medterra. He is currently responsible for all product-related R&D from performing pharmokinetic studies on efficacy to reviewing the latest peer-reviewed publications on CBD. Halpert also holds a faculty position at the Baylor College of Medicine where he studies both the efficacy and immunological processes, homeostatic regulation and cancer immunotherapy.

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Photo: A composite image showing, on the left, Dr. Matthew Halpert, a young white man with short dark brown hair, smiling, wearing a formal shirt and jacket. To the right, an older brown-furred dog plays on the beach. Dr. Matthew Halpert coauthored a study which looked at whether CBD could help older dogs with arthritis.
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Dr. Matthew Halpert coauthored a study which looked at whether CBD could help older dogs with arthritis.

CBD For Older Dogs: Complete episode transcript

Below you’ll find the complete transcript of episode 50 of the Ministry of Hemp podcast, “CBD for older dogs”:

Matt Baum:
I’m Matt Baum and this is the Ministry of Hemp podcast, brought to you by MinistryofHemp.com, America’s leading advocate for hemp and hemp education.

Matt Baum:
Today on the show, we are going to get into some science. It’s one of my favorite things to talk about because science is how we learn that things work and it looks like there is some real evidence finally coming out to show that CBD actually really does help with inflammation. My conversation on the show is going to be with Dr. Matthew Halpert. He is research faculty in the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Baylor and he just recently worked on a study looking at osteoarthritis in dogs and how CBD can help. But before we get into the science, we should talk a little pseudoscience and some very popular scams that are going on in the CBD world right now.

Beware CBD scams & frauds

Matt Baum:
As I’m sure you know, CBD oil has become an extremely popular fad in the past few years. There’s even consumer reports survey that says 40% of people in their 20s have tried CBD oil and up to 15% of people 65 or older have tried it. I’m sure you’ve talked to or read about people that say it’s helped with their aches or their anxiety, but there’s just as many people out there on the internet right now that’ll tell you it cures everything from cancer to Covid-19 and unfortunately because CBD is currently not regulated by the FDA, legally, they’re getting away with it.

Matt Baum:
Now, normally on this show and on MinistryofHemp.com, we like to highlight people that are creating CBD for the right reasons and doing it the right way. But I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the people that are doing it the wrong way. The scammers out there that are looking to take advantage of you for money while they can, before the FDA moves in and starts regulating CBD.

Matt Baum:
The first and brightest warning flag you should look for are claims that it cures everything. If you find a product with a laundry list of different ailments saying that CBD cures it, makes it go away, chances are they’re lying. As we’ve said on this show and on our site, and I repeat over and over again, we’ve seen CBD useful in treating inflammation, pain, and anxiety. Now, that is not to say that we won’t learn other uses for CBD later, but for now, that is what we know that it does. Anyone claiming that it cures the common cold, cancer, your skin rash, your dog’s bad attitude … I suppose it could help if your dog has anxiety but it’s not going to make your dog stop biting you. But CBD is not going to cure disease and along those same lines, anyone that is boasting about CBD and immune boosting, is probably selling you snake oil. There is no evidence that CBD is boosting your immune system. That’s not even how your immune system works. And again, it’s a real quick and easy red flag to notice.

Matt Baum:
Another one that absolutely blows my mind, CBD infused products that you can’t take internally. I’m talking about CBD infused bracelets, CBD infused pillows, CBD infused mattresses. That is not how CBD works. If not taken internally, it is not doing you any benefit and I am not going to tell you to eat your pillow to get those benefits. There’s all kinds of great companies that are putting out fantastic CBD gummies, oils, tenures, vapes, all of which, you may notice, are taken internally. Anyone that is trying to sell you an external product that you wear or lay on or think about, chances are, they’re selling garbage and it’s not going to help you. It might be comfortable, but it’s not going to give you any of the benefits that you would get from a quality CBD product that is taken internally. We’ve got a fantastic article right now that has some more scams that are up. You can look over at MinistryofHemp.com and I’ll have a link to it in the show notes. I highly suggest you check it out.

Matt Baum:
I know this stuff sounds like common sense, but unfortunately while this was all unregulated, there are people making wild claims and selling garbage products that can make reputable companies look bad when someone tries some really cheap, Chinese imported CBD they got off Amazon that doesn’t even have any CBD in it. That can make a really bad impression. Go check out this article, educate yourselves and make an educated buying decision before you spend real money on CBD. So you know what it is, you know what’s in that bottle that you’re buying, and you know what it’s supposed to do.

Meet Dr. Matthew Halpert

Matt Baum:
My conversation on the show today is with Dr. Matthew Halpert. He is part of the research faculty in the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Baylor. Now, recently he worked on a study in conjunction with Medterra. Medterra is a CBD company that offers a whole line of different products, including animal products. This study was carried out on dogs to look at how CBD affects the inflammation levels in older dogs suffering from osteoarthritis, which is very prevalent. Here’s my conversation with Dr. Matthew Halpert.

Matt Baum:
Dr. Halpert, welcome to the Ministry of Hemp podcast. It’s nice to have you here.

Matthew Halpert:
Thank you.

Matt Baum:
We’re going to talk about the study that you worked on that came out of Baylor Medical School about animals with osteoarthritis pain. I had to practice that so I didn’t sound stupid when I said it. And how they reacted to CBD. I looked at this study and 99.9% of it was clear over my head. So we’re going to get the dumbed down third grade version, if you will.

Matthew Halpert:
Sure.

Matt Baum:
That’s what I brought you in for, basically.

Matthew Halpert:
Sure. No problem.

Matt Baum:
Before we get started, tell me about you. How does a guy like you, who specializes in immunology end up on a study like this?

Matthew Halpert:
Sure. First things first, let me throw out a bit of a disclaimer. When we get into the part about the dog study, it is important to know that all of the K-9 subjects were seen by highly qualified veterinarians at Sunset Animal Hospital and not at Baylor College of Medicine. We were not in a lab at Baylor experimenting on these animals. These were properly cared for previous patients of veterinarians at Sunset Clinic.

Matt Baum:
That’s good to know because when you start thinking animal lab, you go straight to horror story. Right?

Matthew Halpert:
Yeah. And Baylor doesn’t want to get in trouble. I did not actually touch a dog.

Matt Baum:
Totally get that.

Matthew Halpert:
I’m a PhD, not a vet. So just to be clear on that. I didn’t used to think about being clear on that until I got a little … I have to be very clear on that.

Matt Baum:
A talking to, if you will.

Matthew Halpert:
Yes.

Matt Baum:
I assure you, this is not a [inaudible 00:07:29], I promise you.

Matthew Halpert:
The paper did come out of Baylor and they were like, you need to be clear, we did not experiment on dogs. This was all done underneath the supervision of appropriate veterinarians and regulatory oversight.

Matt Baum:
Makes perfect sense.

Matthew Halpert:
To address your question, by trade I’m an immunologist and as you know, a couple years ago cannabis, cannabinoids, CBD, in particular, all really started surging forward with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. When it was de-scheduled and no longer in the same category as heroin or LSD, it became much easier for researchers to obtain it and to research with it. So my focus up to that point, or part of my studies had been in inflammation and the process of inflammation and what goes into that and of course, inflammation is a growing, almost pandemic, at this point. With our Western diet, we’re all sitting right now. The amount of time we sit actually causes inflammation.

Matthew Halpert:
Aging, aging by itself causes inflammation. So we’re just an inflamed people and it’s just getting worse and worse and worse until eventually you end up with some sort of chronic or severe disorder. An example would be osteoarthritis, which affects 35 million Americans a year and as best I can tell right now, one of the main causes is inflammation. Other than that, there’s a lot we don’t know.

Matt Baum:
Fair enough.

Matthew Halpert:
So, obviously it would be beneficial if we could reduce inflammation but you don’t want to go get a shot of steroids every week. That’s a pretty severe path. A lot of people do turn to basically overdosing themselves with NSAIDs like ibuprofen and Tylenol and asprin. The number one cause of liver transplant patient in this country is accidental overdose of acetaminophen-

Matt Baum:
It’s not alcohol.

Matthew Halpert:
Which is Tylenol.

Matt Baum:
It’s Tylenol.

Matthew Halpert:
It’s not. People have no idea how dangerous Tylenol is.

Matt Baum:
That is amazing. I had no clue.

Matthew Halpert:
They think it’s like candy and many people, including myself, have said, Tylenol was basically grandfathered in because it was so old. If it had to go through the FDA rigors of today, it would probably never be approved.

Matt Baum:
Really?

Matthew Halpert:
Yeah, it’s pretty damaging to your organs. For the people who-

Matt Baum:
I’m going to get rid of that then. Let’s get that out of my medicine cabinet.

Matthew Halpert:
Be careful with it. People don’t know but you can overdose yourself with that.

Understanding inflammation and arthritis

Matt Baum:
Real quick, on the subject of inflammation, as I understand it, inflammation is not necessarily arthritis but is a symptom of arthritis and it is the symptom that causes the pain? Is that correct?

Matthew Halpert:
Well, by definition, symptom comes after the cause.

Matt Baum:
Makes sense.

Matthew Halpert:
It’s probably more on the cause side. But it’s throughout. It goes both. Having inflammation does not mean you have arthritis nor does it mean you will get arthritis. It is just associated in people that have arthritis, yes. They definitively have excessive inflammation in their knee or their elbow or wherever the arthritic issue is. So other forms of chronic … a lot of GI disorders, Crohn’s, IBD, those are examples of excessive inflammation in our GI tract. Excessive inflammation in the lungs can lead to asthma or COPD or a number of bronchial issues. So just depends on where the inflammation is. To make it more relatable to the lay person, inflammation is not per se caused by anything external. It’s not caused, a bacteria or virus itself, or whatever you may encounter, does not inflame you. The inflammation is your body’s immune response against that.

Matt Baum:
To something else. Got it.

Matthew Halpert:
There’s a virus, we need to destroy it, inflammation. And in that case, you want that. But for a lot of people, it’s basically an immune response gone rogue and there’s inflammation to your own … Rheumatoid arthritis, you have an immune response against yourself. It’s an autoimmune disorder.

Matt Baum:
Right. Your body starts attacking yourself.

Matthew Halpert:
So you have all this inflammation which can be characterized by a number of things, including the accumulation and activation of different inflammatory cells. Neutrophils is a very popular one. They can rapidly get to, in this case, the synovial joint. Neutrophils actually secrete bleach. That is one of the things they use to kill bacteria. But in this case-

Matt Baum:
Chemical bleach? Strait up bleach? The same stuff you would add to your wash?

Matthew Halpert:
Well, where do you think they discovered the chemical form bleach from?

Matt Baum:
I did not know that.

Matthew Halpert:
Yep.

Matt Baum:
That’s news to me. All right.

Matthew Halpert:
Neutrophils release a lot of toxic agents, commonly referred to as reactive oxygen species, or ROSs. They’re just very toxic and they’re useful in acute situations but obviously damaging if they continue and persist because they will damage your own cartilage and anything else in the area. You also have inflammatory cytokines such as TNF Alpha is a very popular one. These, again, what they tell your body is danger, danger, danger.

Matt Baum:
Attack.

Matthew Halpert:
We need to attack and if you’ve got too much of that, especially at the wrong time, that’s when you say ow, I’m feeling pain. Maybe I should rub something on it or take some Tylenol or etc.

Matt Baum:
So this is where CBD comes in that you were studying.

Matthew Halpert:
Right. So it’s never going to be something I recommend to overdose yourself with NSAIDs. You always run a risk of the benefit not outweighing the damage.

Matt Baum:
And the NSAIDs being painkillers like Tylenol?

Matthew Halpert:
NSAIDs, non-steroidal antiinflammatory. Yes.

Matt Baum:
Non-steroidal antiinflammatory.

Matthew Halpert:
Common ones are acetaminophen or salicylic acid, which is Asprin, ibuprofen which is Advil. I mean, there are others but people just, “Oh, yeah, I’ll just take those.”

Matt Baum:
Well, they’re harmless. Right?

Matthew Halpert:
They’re harmless. Next thing you know you’ve damaged your organs, possibly beyond repair. It has its effects especially if you’re taking … and I fully admit, I used to not know this when I was an athlete back in my younger days, I was definitely overloading on Advil just to get through some pain.

Matt Baum:
Same here. I played hockey and I was a drummer so my hands got inflamed and hurt and I took Tylenol and when that stopped working, a doctor put me on hardcore painkillers, I got addicted to those, it was great. You don’t even know you’re a drug addict. You’re just walking around addicted.

Matthew Halpert:
This is nothing to even discuss about the opioid issue in this country.

The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD

Matt Baum:
And that’s the whole next level I could have gone. I was lucky. And then I found CBD and that’s helped quite a bit with the inflammation in my hands and pain.

Matthew Halpert:
Right. So as we move the needle forward and I’m working in the lab and studying inflammation and ways to potentially reduce it, let’s say safer, more efficiently, more economically, there was the surge in interest in CBD. Anecdotally, I’m sure you’ve read CBD cures everything.

Matt Baum:
Oh, of course.

Matthew Halpert:
Headaches-

Matt Baum:
It’s doing a great job on Covid right now, from what I understand.

Matthew Halpert:
Oh, sure. Cures that. If you end up dying, it’s okay. Take a little CBD. You’ll be fine.

Matt Baum:
You’ll be all right.

Matthew Halpert:
I did not really want to … I do not follow the anecdotal, obviously. I’m a scientist. That means very little to me. It can push us and skew us to what to look at and there happen to be a decent amount out there and some previous research. I’m not the first. There has been other research that shows that, oh, CBD actually does have some really interesting antiinflammatory properties. And initially this was mistakenly assumed that it was only through the endocannabinoid system. The CB1, CB2 receptors which I’m sure you’ve heard of.

Matt Baum:
We talk about them all the time.

Matthew Halpert:
And while there’s no doubt that CBD can interact with those receptors, I would venture to say in all likelihood, that is not even the main receptor CBD interacts with when you take it. It has now been shown to interact with a number of different receptors. Some really interesting. It stimulates through the serotonin receptor, which is your feel good receptor in the brain. That could be very interesting. And not to get too science-y but there has now been identified between six and 10 different inflammation related receptors that CBD actually interacts with.

Matt Baum:
That’s amazing news though. That’s great.

Matthew Halpert:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely.

Matt Baum:
We started with CB1 and CB2 and the endocannabinoid system and everybody pushes that and we go, yeah it’s very cool but the news that no, there’s way more benefit to it than that. That’s even better. That’s fantastic news.

Matthew Halpert:
Exactly. CBD, I mentioned before, neutrophils, well CBD can bind directly to neutrophils and reduce their activity. Great. That’s what you want. You want to shut that down. Can it reduce TNF Alpha? Yes. If you go back and look at the paper that you were referring to before that I just published in [inaudible 00:17:25], you can see that.

Matt Baum:
Real quick. TNF Alpha?

Matthew Halpert:
Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha. It’s a very, very commonly … I mean, you can see commercials, they talk about it in commercials for Humira, for example.

Matt Baum:
Oh, sure.

Matthew Halpert:
TNF Alpha is an inflammatory cytokine elevated in a number of different conditions and it’s sort of become one of the hallmark proxies of, “You may have an inflammatory condition somewhere if we’re identifying increases in that in circulation.”

Matt Baum:
Gotcha. I thought you were saying TN Alfalfa. And I was like, that sounds delicious.

Matthew Halpert:
TNF Alpha. And in fact, in rheumatoid arthritis, which is slightly different, that’s one of the therapies they employ. Is simply blocking that molecule can bring patients a lot of improvement by blocking that. That’s why I mention it, why I looked at it, and why it ended up being in the publication. Not that I’m the first to discover that CBD can reduce that but it’s important to, of course, always verify previous research and then build off it.

Matt Baum:
Right. Obviously.

Matthew Halpert:
So we did that in several different inflammatory models and again, successfully saw, yeah, CBD does in fact do that.

Studying arthritis & CBD in older dogs

Matt Baum:
Let me ask you, you can do this, we’re seeing the science and it’s working, and it’s amazing and we can talk to people and say, “How do you feel?” And you do, “What’s your pain level?” “Well, I was at a seven and now I’m at a four.” That’s an improvement. When you move into a study like this that deals with animals, dogs for example, how does that work? How do you look at a dog in a situation like that and say, “This dog is in pain. We gave it CBD.” You can’t turn to the dog and be like, “What’s your pain level?” And the dog goes, “Ruff. Now I’m at a three. Ruff.” You know? Or something.

Matthew Halpert:
You don’t speak dog?

Matt Baum:
Not real well. My dogs don’t listen to me, I’ll tell you that much. Maybe I’m doing it wrong. I don’t know.

Matthew Halpert:
So, sure. Up to this point, this had been research in the lab in Petri dishes or test tubes, however you want to picture it. And right, this is a situation that plagues science. A lot of stuff can look great in the lab but does it actually hold up in an intact, biological system? We’re not talking about rodents that may all be genetically identical. We’re talking about genetically disperse subject such as humans or dogs in this case, that are also out bred. They’re not all genetically … They’re not clones of each other.

Matt Baum:
Not by any means, yeah.

Matthew Halpert:
No. So this came about largely with a collaboration with Medterra and so this is where they also put some weight and the bottom, basic question was, “all right. CBD reduces inflammation. So what?” I mean, that’s great and all but is it actually going to help people or, “Hey, we have a pet product. Is it helping dogs or not? Are we just following a fad or is there actual science here?” And while there is absolutely impetus to push CBD through the human clinical trial process, and I can drop a teaser that absolutely Medterra is looking into and will do that and that is upcoming.

Matt Baum:
That’s awesome.

Matthew Halpert:
That is a process. You still have to go … It’s not going to happen overnight. We have to integrate with the FDA. We have to integrate with the institution. It takes a bit of work. And it’s a little bit tricky sometimes to go from the lab and mouse work all the way to humans. Because sometimes maybe the FDA feels, “You don’t have a ton of justification here to do this or that.” So sometimes a middle ground is what occurred here with our K-9 friends. Because they are far more representative of a human population than maybe mice or cells in a dish would be.

Matt Baum:
Just because they’re all so different? Is that because different sizes, different-

Matthew Halpert:
I would go, I mean, dogs are easily more evolved, for example, than mice.

Matt Baum:
Oh, okay. Gotcha.

Matthew Halpert:
Their systems are a little more representative of ours. They’re genetically disperse, as we are. They live in the environment. They don’t live in an animal facility or in a cage. They live out and about.

Matt Baum:
They’re exposed to a lot of the same stuff we are. Absolutely.

Matthew Halpert:
And not only that but dogs, more than I would have thought, suffer from osteoarthritis. It is estimated between, and this is going to surprise you, but between 20% and 90% of dogs, depending on breed, will suffer from osteoarthritis at some point in their life.

Matt Baum:
Wow.

Matthew Halpert:
It is very prevalent.

Matt Baum:
I can say, speaking from experience, I had two pugs, both of which had serious arthritis. One is 13 and she has a nerve disorder and she has lost her back legs. But before that nerve went bad, she was in a lot of pain. Turns out it was arthritis.

Matthew Halpert:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Which often leads to some poor options. There’s actually a need here to maybe have something that could work. Right. So at this point, we’ve got a collaborative effort going between myself at Baylor and the Medterra and their group and their board and then Sunset Animal Hospital who sees tons of arthritic dogs and would love to have something to offer them. And like you said before, you can’t just give one dog some CBD and say, “How do you feel?” That’s not a study. And so in designing the study, what everyone came to a decision on, I’ll say off the bat, there are more invasive and more expensive things that could have been done in this study but in a catch-22, the vets and the regulatory process was not going to approve all of those very invasive or very expensive things until there was a publication that even suggested real justification.

Matt Baum:
Of course. That makes perfect sense. The vet’s like, “Hey, by the way, I’d like to try this experimental thing on your dog. Baylor thinks it might be a good idea.” And they give it to the dog and the dog dies. That’s a really bad look. I get that.

Conducting the ‘Pain’ study of osteoarthritis & CBD in older dogs

Matthew Halpert:
Right. So you got to start baby steps, baby steps. And again, all done between oversight with Medterra and Sunset and so the study that came about was what I would consider an appropriately controlled pilot study. And so I always refer to it as a placebo control double blinded study. What that means is that the double blind means no one in the study knew which group they were in. What they were enrolled. That includes the vet, who did the enrolling, and that includes the enrolling who also did not know which group they were in and obviously if you want to, the dogs also don’t know what they’re taking.

Matt Baum:
The dogs weren’t in on it. They didn’t tell them.

Matthew Halpert:
Kind of triple blind. So no one knows if you’re in the highest dose group or maybe you’re in the placebo group where you’re not actually going to give your dog anything. And so this helps reduce bias. Answer honestly because you’re not really skewed. If you know you’re in the highest group of CBD or something, you may be subconsciously skewed to see benefits where there may not be.

Matt Baum:
I do feel better. And maybe you were just having a good day.

Matthew Halpert:
If you knew you were in the placebo group, you’d go the other way. “I know I’m not getting anything.” So we wanted to keep everyone blinded. And then the collation of it was all done after the fact when the study was done. All right. Let’s see what the data says. And the groups included a placebo group, a low dose of CBD, a higher dose of CBD, and then the low dose of CBD in a, let’s call it a Trojan horse, scientific technology that improves bioavailability.

Matt Baum:
Oh, okay. Gotcha.

Matthew Halpert:
It won’t change the biology but you will absorb it better than if you didn’t.

Matt Baum:
Than if you just gave it to them. Yeah.

Matthew Halpert:
Because CBD, as you may or may not know, no super soluble, not very bioavailable. When you take CBD, you’re probably only actually benefiting from 2% to 20% of it, while the rest of it is either excreted or metabolized by the liver. By putting it in a certain hijack, a certain lipid packaging, that absorption goes much, much higher. Between 10 to 20 fold higher.

Matt Baum:
Wow.

Matthew Halpert:
So you get a lot more benefit.

Matt Baum:
Can I ask what that was? What was the lipid mixture that they used in that?

Matthew Halpert:
I don’t know that I’m allowed to full answer you. That’s somewhat proprietary to Medterra’s efforts.

Matt Baum:
It’s probably not the coconut oil that everybody is using it in.

Matthew Halpert:
No.

Matt Baum:
I didn’t think so.

Matthew Halpert:
No coconut. But I can tell you, it’s something that Medterra is going to be offering post haste. That’s all in production, development right now to be offered because it’s going to be … get your monies worth, right? I mean, take the stuff that your body is going to use.

Matt Baum:
That’s going to change the business. Certainly going to change the business.

Matthew Halpert:
Yep. And so to this story, we had those four groups and the dogs were to consume their product, CBD or placebo or whatever dose orally for 30 days. Just squirt on their food, which again, is not going to be the most, not the ideal situation because I’ve seen dogs eat, it’s a little messy. But 30 days, which is very quick, and I am very up front about having gone on record and telling everyone, for starters I can’t manipulate the data. The data will be the data. You have to be ready for that. It may not work. Second of all, guys, it’s a 30 day study. That’s very quick, clinically speaking, for anything like a chronic condition.

Matt Baum:
You can only look at what happened in those 30 days and look at that data and say, “This is what we have.” We can’t go in saying, “We think it’s going to be this.” Or, “We know it’s this. How do we get there?”

Matthew Halpert:
No.

Matt Baum:
That’s not how it works.

Matthew Halpert:
You get the data and you also have to be careful with extrapolations. “Oh, something is safe for 30 days, it must be safe if you take it every day for two years.” No. That’s not what we studied, so I can’t say that. Here’s what I can say. Within the paper, the characteristics of the dog, we had a really good mix of male and female, we had a really good mix of breed. They all weighed about the same. They were all around give or take 80 pounds. So pretty big dogs. And they were all around, I’d have to check, 10 or 11 years old. This is representative of the population that is dealing with osteoarthritis.

Matt Baum:
That’s when arthritis shows up. Senior dogs.

Matthew Halpert:
Before and after scoring and then two week follow up scoring is how it was done. And the scoring was carried out by the veterinarian who knows how to appropriately analyze dogs for their arthritis and the have a numerical scoring system basically. And they could also do … What was also done was the blood work. Your typically CBC and chemistry to check for, “Are we doing anything to the liver? Are we seeing liver issues? Are we seeing kidney issues? Are we seeing any red flags?” This would all fall under the safety profile of the study. Is this safe? Does it look like it’s being well tolerated?

Matt Baum:
It doesn’t matter if the pain goes down if you have just inflated some other chemical that’s really bad for your kidneys or your liver or something.

Matthew Halpert:
Right. Not worth it if it shuts down your kidneys.

Matt Baum:
Exactly.

Matthew Halpert:
So we had to make sure that was analyzed and then there was before and after and follow up scoring by the owners who filled out what is termed the Helsinki Pain Scale Chronic Pain Index.

Matt Baum:
That’s the one where it’s like, “What is your pain level?” And you’re like, “Nine.” And they’re like, “Oh, you’re hurting.” Right?

Matthew Halpert:
Kind of. It’s a published study that the vets fill this in, it’s actually well accepted in scoring arthritis in dogs and it’s a questionnaire where the owners do score numerically from one to five or one to 10 but they’re different questions. They aren’t just what’s the pain? It’s, how is your dog able to … Is your dog willing to jump up onto something? Is your dog capable-

Matt Baum:
Mobility.

Matthew Halpert:
Mobility.

Matt Baum:
Is your dog shaking. Shaking is a good way to know a dog is in pain. Correct?

Seeing results from CBD and older dogs

Matthew Halpert:
Right. And of course, anyone who is listening can just Google, “Helsinki Pain Scale” and they can see the questions. It’s freely available online but it’s just nothing too invasive, but it’s a way to get some direction. Do the owners of these dogs, do they perceive there to be any benefit after 30 days of CBD use? Does your dog seem to be in less pain? Do they have better mobility? Based on the ways you would score a dog. Again, is where the veterinarians came in and explained all that. And of course, every owner filled out informed concent. This is all by the books and on the up and up and I was surprised to see the difference I saw after 30 days. It was much greater than I would have thought. And so-

Matt Baum:
Really?

Matthew Halpert:
Yes. And so in the placebo group and the low dose group, again, the owners and vet don’t know that those are the group when they’re doing the scoring. They were pretty consistent with each other in their scoring of, “We don’t really see a difference.” And you can see that in the, I think it’s figure six of the paper with the pie charts. But they did not see much difference. So if you just want to boil it down to better, worse, or no change, a bunch of no change. In both groups, in those 10 dogs. And then you’ve got the other two groups where it’s a little bit higher CBD or a better absorbed CBD, almost the exact opposite. 80%, 90% of the dogs in the different categories were definitely showing some level of benefit.

Matt Baum:
Wow.

Matthew Halpert:
And when you dive deeper into some of the scoring, there was an average of, again, I’d have to double check. 40% to 50% improvement in what I would call arthritic symptoms.

Matt Baum:
That’s amazing.

Matthew Halpert:
So these dogs, I agree, I’m quite frankly shocked.

Matt Baum:
That’s a crazy number. Normally if you looked at a study like that and you were like, “Wow. 20% of them did better. That’s a high number.” You know?

Matthew Halpert:
But some of the scores, again, it’s a little bit like golf where a lower score is better and so some of the dogs started at a very high score, I’ll just make up a number, 50. And then after 30 days it was down to 25. Well, that, again-

Matt Baum:
That’s incredible.

Matthew Halpert:
That’s pretty beyond the placebo effect which was very minimal in this study. I mean, it’s not just you scored things a little better. What you’re saying, what they were all basically saying is, “Yes, my dog is doing significantly better in a lot of areas.” And there were a lot of notes, “My dog seems much happier, more playful.” Things that I can’t include in the scientific paper because that’s not objective. I can’t put that in. I was like, “That’s really good to know.” And even arguably more impressive to me was at the 30 day mark, everyone was ordered to stop taking their product and then score again two weeks later. And in the groups that were getting the more efficacious amounts of CBD, they were still showing a statistically significant improvement, even two weeks later.

Matt Baum:
Wow.

Matthew Halpert:
Which means to me, as a scientist, that the CBD was not merely doing what a lot of pain relievers do.

Matt Baum:
Like masking.

Matthew Halpert:
Mask, right. It wasn’t just, “Oh, we masked the pain temporarily.” Because if that’s the case, then once you get rid of that, basically the pain is … the problem is still there. In this case, what it looks like is the CBD was in fact, over 30 days, genuinely reducing the inflammatory components and allowing for what I would call a more genuine foundational improvement. I mean, the pain was less because there was less issue.

Next steps for research into CBD & inflammation

Matt Baum:
There was less inflammation. Yeah. Let me ask the difference, what was the difference between the high dosage CBD and the low dosage with that agent that was helping distribute it?

Matthew Halpert:
Very close. They were not statistically different from each other.

Matt Baum:
Really? So basically whatever this thing Medterra is working on, is going to allow for lower dosages of CBD to be way more effective.

Matthew Halpert:
Correct. It’s going to be much safer to take because it’s not only going to be absorbed better, you’re going to actually avoid first pass metabolism by liver. So because it doesn’t go through the normal oral pathway, I mean, you still take it orally, but it basically sneaks out of the stomach and the intestines into your blood without going through the liver and without being metabolized. And if you’re avoiding the liver, you’re avoiding a lot of potential drug, drug interactions or issues with alcohol or anything else that affects the liver, which is basically everything. So this is going to be a very beneficial, a much safer and more efficacious product. Through a number of different studies, we’ve already shown it’s improved abilities.

Matt Baum:
That’s fantastic news, by the way.

Matthew Halpert:
I think for the CBD industry, we’re excited by that.

Matt Baum:
Yeah. What’s the next step here? Next to we do a two year study with dogs next? Or where do you go from here?

Matthew Halpert:
That’s a good question. We can go a couple of places from here. Obviously with this publication in tow, we absolutely I think have the justification to do a secondary K-9 trial if we want to do some more invasive things. Maybe we do look at the synovial fluid. Maybe we do some imaging. But before I do any of that, what I’ve actually done is I’ve gotten in contact with the FDA, the CBM department of the FDA. A lot of people don’t know but the FDA also regulates the animal space. And so I’ve been talking with them about working together on, how do we get this product … How does Medterra push this product through to be FDA approved in the K-9 space?

Matt Baum:
That’s the next huge thing.

Matthew Halpert:
What do you think we need to see? And they were pretty clear about, “Hold on, there’s a chance you might already have enough. We’re not sure.”

Matt Baum:
Oh, wow.

Matthew Halpert:
“Don’t do anything else until we look at everything you’ve got.” So I’m at a bit of a holding pattern in the K-9 space until the FDA weighs in and tells me either yes, we already have enough to be approved, and then we have a lot more potential of things we can do in studies. We have a much wider berth.

Matt Baum:
That sounds like good news to me though. Really.

Matthew Halpert:
Or they’ll say, there’s not quite enough data yet. It’s very promising. Here’s what we suggest. Here’s how we would recommend moving forward to achieve that. And so that might be a longer study. This is only a one month study. They may say, “We’d like to see this after six months.” And I would say, “Okay, now we know what our next study needs to revolve around. It needs to be a six month study where we determine safety and efficacy.” So I feel confident in saying there will be other K-9 studies but that has not been mapped out yet. And will almost certainly involve FDA input. The other place we go is into the human. So with all of the science that exists now, and now we have a really good in house example of this benefiting an actual arthritic population. I might not have said before but osteoarthritis in dogs is very similar to osteoarthritis in humans.

Matt Baum:
Yeah. You mentioned that.

Matthew Halpert:
They’re very similar conditions. So it’s not even a leap to say, “If this worked here, there is a reasonable shot it’s going to work here.” And I mentioned, it’s 35 million Americans a year are dealing with this.

Matt Baum:
I’m one of them.

Matthew Halpert:
I talked to our Rheumatologist who was like, please do this. There’s basically nothing. Basically these people just take ibuprofen or whatever.

Matt Baum:
You take drugs to mask the pain. That’s it.

Matthew Halpert:
Until eventually we’ve got to do a joint replacement. There’s really no solution. So great, we are in talks with rheumatologists in the Houston Med Center and writing up applications and everything is moving towards, let’s go for it. Let’s see if we see similar or even along the lines, results in humans. And that’s part of the reason I work with Medterra. Is they’ve always been very clear about science first. Forget the anecdotal. Forget the fads. And I’m going to put a little soap box down and say, over the years I’ve had the opportunity to myself analyze many different CBD products, including other attempts at this enhanced absorption vehicle, and I literally can look under the microscope sometimes and see that so and so is just full of it.

Matt Baum:
This is BS.

Matthew Halpert:
That’s not here. Oh, this is contaminated. What is that? Hair? I wouldn’t put that in my body. Because it’s not the most regulated space. Right? There is a fad mentality, a gold rush mentality, and people need to do their due diligence. Not all CBD is as clean as they would maybe expect. If they think that there’s some magical fairy that’s checking on all the companies to make sure they’re actually giving you CBD and not a bunch of other stuff. No they’re not.

Matt Baum:
That’s something we push heavily here at Ministry of Hemp and I’ve felt a lot of pushback from some people and I get it. We’re behind this. This is awesome. And it looks like the sky is the limit but we have to do the science right and we have to make sure the people are getting the right product and what’s actually in that bottle is what they’re saying it is. And it’s so easy to just cheer lead and go, “No, we got it. We did it. It’s curing everything.” It’s not the case and we have to do it the right way. It’s guys like you that I don’t get to talk to very often that are doing the hard science and I appreciate the hell out of it. Speaking as a skeptic myself, it’s so nice to hear, “Hey, here’s a study. We went into it not knowing what was going to happen. It had really good results.” Not showing up to the interview and going, “We all know it’s great. We all know it’s the best. And it’s going to cure everything and here’s how we proved it.” No. Please, don’t do that.

Matthew Halpert:
CBD is not the first fad. There have been fads like this before.

Matt Baum:
It’s not the 50,000th fad. You know?

Matthew Halpert:
And the future of it, I fully believe comes down to how science moves it forward. Either there’s a lot of scientific study, appropriate regulation, and evidence in legitimate clinical trials that people can point to and hang their hat on and it becomes, “Yes, CBD has been studied. It’s a controlled process. A controlled industry.” Or none of that is going to happen, or not enough of that is going to happen. And whatever does happen will be dwarfed by the magnitude of the, “Well, it helped my grandma do this.” Stories that people run with. And after a couple years, people sort of get tired of stuff like that. And they say, “Oh, yeah. I remember. I remember [inaudible 00:41:55] was curing everything. What happened to that? Can you get that at the store?”

Matt Baum:
I remember hydroxychloroquine. Right? Yeah.

Matthew Halpert:
Either there’s science and study or there’s not. But that will determine, if you want to fast forward a couple of years, that will determine how big and strong the CBD industry is. Especially in context of potential future legalization of marijuana as a whole. And so that’s going to be something that people are going to have to grapple with. That CBD and marijuana are not the same thing. And I’m sure you guys are all over that.

Matt Baum:
Oh, we know all about it. Yeah. Spend a lot of time trying to enforce that. Dr. Halpert, I want to thank you very much for coming on the show.

Matthew Halpert:
Thank you for having me.

Matt Baum:
This was fantastic. It was a great talk and you really boiled it down well. I barely had to jump in and be like, “Whoa, what’s that word mean?” And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

Final thoughts from Matt

Matt Baum:
Huge thank for Dr. Halpert for coming on the show and it’s just so refreshing to talk to somebody from obviously such a high level of learning and scientific background that can boil something huge like this down to a level we can all understand and really there’s a lot of information in this interview that’s very exciting about the future and new frontiers for CBD. As always, you’ll be able to find links to Dr. Halpert’s bio, Medterra, and the study we discussed, all in the notes for this episode.

Matt Baum:
That’s about it for this episode. I just want to thank everybody that has been downloading and supporting, especially everybody that has gone to our Patreon page that’s Patreon/MinistryofHemp.com and become a Ministry of Hemp insider. Any amount that you donate not only helps us spread the good word of hemp, but it gets you early access to articles, all kinds of extras like podcast extras and bonus articles and information that you can’t find on the site. Like I said though, more importantly, it really helps us to keep doing what we’re doing and if you want to spread the good word of hemp and hemp education, there’s no better way to do it. Speaking of MinistryofHemp.com, we have a new review up for Winged Relaxation CBD gummies. They’re stress relief gummies but unlike a lot of stress relief CBD products, these won’t make you sleepy. And like I mentioned at the beginning of this show, we’ve got a fantastic article about five scams to watch for in the CBD world. I cannot stress how important it is that you go check that one out.

Matt Baum:
If you need more Ministry of Hemp in your life, you can follow us on all your favorite social media platforms @MinistryofHemp or /MinistryofHemp. We are always posting great stuff. At the Ministry of Hemp, we believe that an accessible world is a better world for everybody so you can find a full written transcript of this episode in the show notes as well. Now, usually I end the show the same way every time but it’s almost time to go back to school and I know a lot of people are being forced to go there. Whether you’re a teacher or a student. So I’m going to add to my usual sign off and I just want to say, be careful, wash your hands, wear a mask, take care of yourself, take care of others, and make good decisions, will you? This is Matt Baum with the Ministry of Hemp podcast, signing off.

Photo: A composite image showing, on the left, Dr. Matthew Halpert, a young white man with short dark brown hair, smiling, wearing a formal shirt and jacket. To the right, an older brown-furred dog plays on the beach. Dr. Matthew Halpert coauthored a study which looked at whether CBD could help older dogs with arthritis.
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Matt Baum has been hosting, producing, and editing podcasts for almost ten years. He's been a touring musician, chef, journalist, and avid comic book fan for as long as he can remember. Currently, Matt lives in Omaha Nebraska with his wife Kacie and pugs Mable and Bobo.

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