CBD may be a hot topic now but the future of cannabinoid therapeutics lies in full-spectrum products, according to veterinarian Tim Shu, founder of California-based Vet CBD and Dr Shu’s Pet Care.
“There are more than 100 different cannabinoids that haven’t been explored,” Shu (pictured) told CBD-Intel. “My role as a health care professional is to look at all therapeutic options and provide those to the client. There are a lot of unknowns and we’re just getting started.
“The endocannabinoid system was only discovered in the nineties so we’re only starting to scratch the surface of its medical potential. It’s an entirely new body system, which is deeply intertwined with other systems: the nervous system, the GI tract, the endocrine system, skin and bone development. It’s a really fascinating time.”
Shu believes therapeutic cannabinoids will become an everyday conversation as we learn more about the endocannabinoid system, consumers become more educated, legislation makes access easier and more evidence of efficacy is gathered.
“A lot of people have been dismissive of the potential of cannabis but it’s not some snake oil,” he said. “Evidence thus far has been nothing short of amazing. For me, it’s about helping people to understand that we’re on the cusp of a new era of medicine.”
Potential for cancer treatment
Shu will be speaking at Global Cannabis Institute’s (GCI’s) conference in London on 13th November. The event brings key industry stakeholders together, including policy makers, researchers, scientists, retailers and investors. Shu plans to use the event to connect with other researchers to collaborate on further research into cannabinoid therapeutics.
“What gets us up in the morning is our ability to improve the lives of patients,” said Shu. “We can work tighter together to benefit patients all over the world.
Shu believes full-spectrum products contain multiple cannabinoids that work in a synergistic mechanism for a more powerful effect. So powerful, he believes they could treat diseases as serious as cancer.
“The big question is how cannabinoids can be used to treat cancer,” said Shu. “The way research has been done so far is limited. But even pre-clinical studies have shown that cannabinoids have the potential to kill cancer cells and prevent them from spreading by cutting off their blood supply.
“The difficulty is that there isn’t just one type of cancer, there are hundreds of different types of cancer and each one can react differently to different protocols. We need stronger evidence and that’s a long-term project and not one that any one company can develop alone. We need multiple cannabinoids and a collaborative global effort.”
In the meantime, business continues to boom for Shu’s company, which makes cannabinoid therapeutics for pets to treat arthritis, seizures, separation and noise anxiety.
Pets as family members
“When we started in 2015 a lot of vets were highly sceptical,” said Shu. “Now vets are clamouring for information as their clients are asking them about CBD because they’ve heard about it on the news or through family and friends. They’ve seen it working and have questions.”
Shu is now selling his pet care products in London and also plans to distribute them further afield, in China and Latin America.
“People in developed countries are delaying marriage and replacing babies with pets,” said Shu. “There’s a movement of pet owners considering their pets as family members and placing a focus on their health and wellbeing.”
New regulation and legalisation is opening up new markets for cannabinoid therapeutics.
“Things are changing at a rapid rate,” said Shu. “In the US ten years ago we didn’t have any states that had legal recreational or adult-use cannabis but now it is legal in multiple states and, since the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has been legal in the US.”
Hemp-based products on global rise
Shu believes a lot of countries will follow the US and in the next five to ten years we will see the majority of the world having access to – at a minimum – hemp-based CBD products.
“In Europe and Latin America we’re seeing legalisation across the board. Even in China, which has traditionally been conservative, the market for cannabinoid therapeutics is opening up.”
As legalised supply of hemp brings increased access, prices could even come down.
“We’ve seen the price come down already as record amounts of hemp are being planted,” said Shu. “But you have to make sure you’re getting quality supply. It’s an agricultural crop and so you have to make sure you properly test it to ensure it’s good quality material.”
The industry is still new but in future better regulation will bring higher standards including more rigorous product testing and more accurate labelling. This will be important for industry players who want to stay top of the game.
“The hemp industry is not regulated. That’s where people have run into trouble with product quality,” he said. “If companies are not obligated to do any testing, they won’t. But as consumers gain a better understanding, they will gravitate towards brands with higher quality assurance standards.”
- Tim Shu will be speaking at GCI Europe in London on 13th-14th November, along with CBD-Intel managing director Tim Phillips.
– Lorraine Mullaney CBD-Intel staff