Dr Robert Silver DVM MS - Interview

Raw Made Easy


Neal: Hi, everybody, it's Neal from Growlies. I'm here to introduce Dr. Robert Silver, a doctor of veterinary medicine and somebody who I've been following since I heard of him a few years ago in regards to some of his work around CBD, cannabis and your pets. Dr. Silver has a phenomenal book that I recommend everybody get called Medical Marijuana and Your Pet. You could find this online and I highly recommend this great tome on how to properly utilize CBD products or hemp products for your pet. Thank you for joining us, Dr. Silver.

Dr. Silver: My pleasure. Glad to be here.

Neal: I guess let's just dive right in here. CBD, what is it?

Dr. Silver: Well, CBD is one of many molecules that have beneficial health effects in the body found in the cannabis plant. There's two molecules that are the main most dominant molecules. One's called THC which most people are familiar with because it affects your mind. It has that psychotropic effect, get you higher, and get you stoned. CBD, on the other hand, does not but does have a very beneficial effect within the body on many, many different levels. It's very complex and complicated how it works.

Neal: Now, we've started selling CBD in our store. It does very well as a product line and people use it for a whole bunch of different things. What are the things you find it most effective for?

Dr. Silver: Well, we say that the pain is a major benefit of using it although oftentimes with pain using one single agent is not adequate, so veterinarians recommend that we approach what we call a multi-modal approach to pain which means we don't just use a single agent but we use multiple agents. Like let's say you might want to use CBD within NSAID, like a carprofen let's say, or you might want to add it to it acupuncture or some other types of non-ordinary but still beneficial for pain types of treatments.

Pain is good. Anxiety. It has a very beneficial effect on anxiety, it works through serotonin receptor so it's like having that turkey dinner in terms of all the trip to fan has the same kind of benefit in the body, and we also find it has a beneficial effect for the nervous system in general. Anxiety nervous system, pain nervous system, but also disorders of the nervous system like epilepsy. It can help with epilepsy, it does not across the board help with all cases of epilepsy.

Then there's other types of degenerative neuro conditions that it probably has benefit for and we're just now learning because it has not been in use or available for use ever up until the last year. Really, I've been working with it for the last five or six years and have developed quite a bit of expertise, but it's only now becoming mainstream and I think only now are we going to be learning more how we can use it best.

Neal: We find there's a lot of scuttlebutt out there about it, and I think there's-- Like with anything.

Dr. Silver: It does too.

Neal: I think with anything new, there's some snake oil salesmen coming out as well.

Dr. Silver: Sure. Anytime there's an opportunity to make money, there's going to be people that could be taking advantage of you.

Neal: Ain't that the truth? Yes. I do find that this is a very useful compound. I have some questions because I get asked these questions all the time, and I don't always know the answer. People always think I know the answer, but I don't always know the answer. Cannabis-derived CBD versus hemp-derived CBD, is there a difference, and should it matter to me?

Dr. Silver: CBD is CBD is CBD. In Canada, hemp and marijuana cannabis are regulated the same way.

Neal: That’s great.

Dr. Silver: Because from that standpoint, no difference either, but when you're dealing with CBD that's been derived from the marijuana plant, you need to be careful to make sure that it doesn't have an excessive amount of THC in it because dogs can be very sensitive to exposure to THC. We find that dogs that have not had any exposure to THC in their lives, when they're exposed to it sometimes have these neurologic crises and have to go to the ER.

Neal: Oh my.

Dr. Silver: It's not something that's casual. You can just blow smoke in your dog's ears and laugh at the party and it’s cool. THC is very strong. It's good when used properly it's excellent, but it's very strong and can have some adverse effects. Getting a CBD derived from marijuana may have a higher likelihood of elevated THC levels which may have a higher likelihood of causing an adverse effect in an animal. That's where I would say CBD from hemp is more likely to be safer for dogs because it's less likely to have elevated THC levels as long as analyses are being done properly.

Neal: Perfect. We talked about isolates versus full spectrum. We see both on the market right now, and I'm not sure which I should be pointing people toward.

Dr. Silver: Well, isolates are cheaper. If there's a price point, that's certainly a factor. Studies have shown that when you use a single molecule which is what isolates are, it’s the isolated model molecule of CBD generally 99.7% pure, what they find is that when you use a single molecule like that versus all the complex molecules that are found in the whole plant extract, that you need a higher dosage of a single molecule than you do the whole plant extract.

In some cases, we see that the use of the single-molecule can create more adverse effects. Look at aspirin, for instance, originally aspirin was derived from the bark of the white willow tree, and people took it all the time to help with rheumatism but they also took for stomach ulcers. When the pharmaceutical industry isolated the active ingredient in white willow bark, which is now aspirin, it started causing problems because it wasn't in the whole plant extract.

Same thing with CBD, we've seen at least recently seen a study with CBD, in mice it shows liver toxicity. Huge dosages that were being used at this isolated CBD. In general, I recommend the whole plant extract even though the isolate is less expensive, you need to use more of it. I think you get a better effect with the whole plant.

Neal: Okay, that makes a lot of sense

Dr. Silver: That’s more of the recommendation.

Neal: I'll make sure to look at other products we can get for the full spectrum once.

Dr. Silver: Well, but we're also seeing, at least in the US and I'm not as familiar with the Canadian cannabis industry, it changes. It’s everything's changing so rapidly, but at least-- I lost my train of thought, sorry.

Neal: That's all good. I think that the full spectrum makes more sense given the…

Dr. Silver: In the US, what we're seeing is the emergence of a new product called Broad Spectrum. The Broad Spectrum is when they have virtually reduced the amount of THC in the product to where it is barely detectable. Whereas the hemp levels of THC are 0.3%, zero THC might be 0.03% or point 0.003%. You can never really get rid of it completely, but with so few molecules, you're not going to have any chance of adverse effects. That's the whole idea is for dogs that are super sensitive to the THC. The Broad Spectrum is probably a better way to get started.

Neal: There's a whole bunch of talk out there right now about how there's a system in our bodies that help us process let's say, opioids, and that we have this whole system that with it is related to dopamine and serotonin and all these things, and apparently, we have an endocannabinoid system that also does something but it's parallel but separate. Is that correct?

Dr. Silver: Well, it's very correct, and in fact, that's the whole reason why cannabis has such an amazing effect in the body is that there's actually a system in the body that has receptors and has enzymes and has these molecules that fit into the receptors that the body makes itself that just by the sheers of accident this plant molecules interface with this system called the endocannabinoid system, and it's thought that the endocannabinoid system actually originated at the same time as our nervous system originated in our evolution, evolutionarily.

The main function of the endocannabinoid system is to modulate and protect and provide repair function to the nervous system and prepare what we call homeostasis, which is balance to the nervous system.

Neal: Dr. Marty Goldstein talked a lot about that when I talked to him, homeostasis and then building balance in the body.

Dr. Silver: Exactly, exactly. There are more receptors in the body for cannabis than there are for opiates by the way. It is the largest single system of receptors and molecules in the entire body. We didn't even know about it because there's been the stupid 70-year prohibition on research into cannabis and THC. We didn't know it could cure cancer. Now we do. Now they're starting to do more research.

What would have happened if we hadn't had the stupid prohibition for 70 years in terms of where will we be now with cancer therapy and other types of newer advanced medical treatments that we could derive from the cannabis plant. It's frustrating.

Neal: It is frustrating. Many, many years ago I'd spoken to Jack Herer about this.

Dr. Silver: Really? He's classic. That's iconic. Good for you.

Neal: That's old-school. I think that right now we're seeing a lot of activity in the marketplace with CBD and there a lot of players, they're coming and going. What are you seeing down there?

Dr. Silver: It's crazy down here. In fact, I'm surprised to hear that there are actually CBD products available in Canada because Health Canada has not really quite figured out yet how to regulate them, so they're really just like down here it's the Wild West is what we call it because the government really hasn't set the standards yet so there's been no real enforcement.

We have a lot of players in the market who are just snake oil salesmen as you referred to, that are just trying to make a buck and until the government can figure it out. I respect what they're doing, they're taking their time because they want to get the studies done right so they can know.

There's a big thing we hear about all the issues with analysis and laboratories so that's part of what both governments are doing setting standards within analytical laboratories so when we have measurements we know that measurements that are taken over here are the same as measurements that are taken over there. Right now that's not happening. It's very difficult to create a product that gives accurate delivery of a dosage if you can't analyze it accurately.

Neal: If one lab is giving different results than another because they're using slightly different machine.

Dr. Silver: Or just human error. There's so many different standards of doing it that they need to have one established standard we all follow.

Neal: I agree. I think right now everything that we're selling is what we would consider gray market. It's still relatively new.

Dr. Silver: The industry in Canada, the CBD industry is new even though you've had such a huge hemp industry for so many years. The cultivar of the hemp plant that the Canadian industry is focused on has been the seed oil which is a different plant than the plant that you need to create the resin which is what the CBD is. It takes time to retool and change your strains. You need different kinds of machinery. It's taking time. I'm glad to see these changes happening.

Neal: We do carry a hemp oil product that's not a CBD. There's a lot of people who are confused about that. Can you explain the differences between a hemp oil and a CBD oil because I sell both?

Dr. Silver: I think the appropriate terminology if I may pronounce that would be that we would want to call what you called hemp oil-- Sorry.

Neal: It's all good.

Dr. Silver: That what we call hemp oil should more appropriately be called hemp seed oil, that's where it's derived. Hemp oil, on the other hand, should refer to the oil that is the resin that's derived from the flowers of the plant. Popular name has now become CBD oil. CBD oil is nebulous because it could be isolate. They could put isolate oil in a carrier oil and that would be CBD oil, or it could be full-spectrum or broad spectrum in a carrier oil and that would be CBD oil. That's really what the terminology is but yes, companies are using that vagueness and what it means to market products as containing CBD which do not. Hemp is relatively inexpensive as compared to CBD.

Neal: I've used Manitoba harvest hemp oil for many years.

Dr. Silver: Canada's got a huge industry in that regards. It's the second largest grower in the world after China. I'm looking forward to where they're going to go with this. There's been a lot of investment in Canada and I think that the future is bright for the cannabis industry in Canada.

Neal: Now you recently started the Well Pet Dispensary, are you able to ship to Canada?

Dr. Silver: The Well Pet Dispensary is not just a hemp dispensary. I carry there the Rx vitamins line of products. Rx vitamins is a veterinary nutraceutical company that I helped found 25 years ago. I designed over this 25 years 37 different products that our veterinary animal nutraceuticals. We've only recently, in the last four or five years, introduced hemp. On my website, I carry many of the Rx vitamins products in addition to some hemp products. It's been quite a lively process with all the interest in hemp oil these days.

Neal: Undoubtedly. You're out of Colorado, right?

Dr. Silver: Yes, I live in Boulder, Colorado. We have the websites out of our home, so it's fun.

Neal: That's awesome.

Dr. Silver: Yes, it is. I help animals and people. To answer your question, we can't ship hemp to Canada, it gets confiscated at the customs. We can ship all the other stuff. We can ship the mushroom powders and the turmeric and all the other kinds of products that we do sell on the website but we can't ship the hemp up there. A lot of what I'm doing is focused towards helping animals with cancer or serious chronic disease problems.

Neal: When I'm talking to people about how they give the product to their pet, it's always in an oil and a dropper. I always say it works most effectively sublingual or put right in the mouth, directly in the mouth. I know that in the book, you had dedicated it to a friend who had passed away who had a sublingual technology for herbal remedies. Are you looking to do that thing where it goes directly under the tongue like that? Is that the way you say that people should provide it to their pets?

Dr. Silver: There's been one study from Colorado where they compared three different routes of administration to see which one would give the best, and they measured blood levels of CBD in They compared the sublingual approach to oral, just being swallowed down to the stomach to transdermal where it's being rubbed on animals they rub it inside the ear. They found that the sublingual gave the best levels, but not far behind it was the oral. We hear a lot of people being very successful putting the CBD in the food especially for animals who are very reluctant to allow someone to put those droppers in their mouth. Sorry.

Neal: It's all good. Exactly, clearly the world is waking up around yet.

Dr. Silver: In that regards, sublingual probably is the best but I don't think that it's a problem to use orally. What I suggest orally is that they give it between meals versus burying it in a bunch of food. Just put it in a small amount of some bright food, food that looks very attractive to the animal. That way you're going to get the benefit of making it easier to give to them but you won't have possibly losing absorptive value if it's all buried in the food. I think transdermal technology is around the corner for pets.

I think we'll see something like that happen.

Neal: We say directly in the mouth but if you need to put it in the food. If I'm giving it for anxiety, how far ahead of the event, let's say my dog gets really anxious when I put him in the car and we go for a car ride. Although he loves the park, he hates the car. How far ahead of that event of that trigger should I offer it to the pet?

Dr. Silver: That's a good question. There are some who would say that you're better off giving it regularly twice daily for anxiety and then include that in a behavioral modification program so to reduce their anxiety around the triggers like getting your keys before you leave which can trigger separation anxiety in dogs. That's the one possible scenario is you give it all the time.

Otherwise, if you think you're giving it like a drug just before fireworks, it may not work so well for you, but it's worth a try. I think some dogs may respond better than others and I think that actually a little bit of CBN, which is a cannabinoid that is a degradation product of THC and makes you a little bit sleepy and calmer, or even a little more THC in it maybe than you might find normally in hemp, if the animal is adapted to THC, it may also help to reduce, may sedate it a bit more.

Yes, I think you could probably give-- I only give a higher dosage if you only had-- If you were doing it just before the event. I would say an hour, an hour to an hour and a half. Studies where they've done blood levels show that you get peak effect in about 60 to 120 minutes. That's where I would say that's the amount of time that you should expect to get peak effect. Usually, it's not like a drug that just reaches a peak effect and has its effect. It actually works very physiologically within the body. That's where, I think, giving it on a regular basis may help lower the level of anxiety in general.

Neal: What are your preferred carrier oils? We've seen everything from coconut to pumpkin to sunflower. To be honest, my dogs will eat them right out of the bowl. They love them.

Dr. Silver: I don't think it matters.

Neal: No?

Dr. Silver: I don't think it matters. I'm finding for cats that the carrier oil can make a big difference. I have found that using medium chain triglycerides derived from coconut oil, they're a little sweet tasting and bland, seems to be a better carrier vehicle for cats. Dogs, I don't think it matters.

Neal: They just like fat.

Dr. Silver: Some dogs are picky, but they might be picky about different tastes, so there's no way to predict what would be a better carrier. I know there's some companies that use olive oil, which to me seems a little bit thick and heavy. I used hemp seed oil in my own product, thinking that was kind of a native vehicle for it. Hemp seeds have oil, and I think it works quite well, but it is kind of herby. Hemp seed oil has that kind of herby taste to it, so cats don't like as much as chain triglycerides.

Neal: Yes. MCT is a great one for cats, absolutely agree, and it doesn't have the problems that some of the coconut oils have been found to have, with the short chain fatty acids affecting the biome.

Dr. Silver: Okay. I wasn't aware of that.

Neal: It's all good. I try to stay up on this stuff. One of the things I hear a lot about, and I don't know if it's true, because I haven't found any corresponding evidence of this is that CBD is anti-inflammatory. It's like a replacement for a NSAIDs. Is that correct?

Dr. Silver: CBD is and the entire hemp plant is as well. That's one reason why using a full spectrum, a broad spectrum, is so much better than using CBD alone, but there have been studies that have compared CBD and CBDA. CBDA is the unheated version of CBD as is found on the plant. The plant grows into CBDA. Only with drying and oxidation does it then convert to CBD. CBDA has actually been found to be more anti-inflammatory than CBD itself.

Yes, it is quite anti-inflammatory and considered to be more anti-inflammatory than NSAIDs. There's other elements in the cannabis plant called flavonoids, which have effects very similar to NSAIDs in our body, in terms of reducing inflammation and doing COX-2 inhibition, which is the same thing that we've seen with drugs like Carprofen and Piroxicam.

Neal: Very cool. This leads us back to that full spectrum versus isolate. The full spectrum would be offering many of these other things.

Dr. Silver: That's why we see lower doses work better, because you're really not dosing a single agent, a single molecule. You're dosing all these multiple molecules, all of which have synergistic benefit, so you don't need as much. They kind of work together. They call it the entourage effect, if you have heard that. That just means all of those molecules working together in the plant have a better effect than any one working alone.

Neal: Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense to me. What are the things that are exciting to you that are coming up in this marketplace? Are you seeing anything that-- For instance, your marketplace down in Colorado is actually much more mature than it is here. Even though we've been approved federally, we're moving slowly in a very Canadian style. Step by step, slowly. Health Canada is managing the process, so we don't see a lot of what I think could be exciting and new that you guys have maybe more of a cowboy mentality down there, kind of free-market stuff. Do you see anything that we're not seeing down there?

Dr. Silver: I don't think it's that much different down in the US. Maybe we've been doing it a bit longer, but it's still considered to be technically illegal in the US. All these companies that are selling it are still violating the technical law that the FDA has laid down. What I see happening is, hopefully, the release of regulation as its safety and effectiveness it becomes more evident based on the studies that they're doing. Releasing the regulation, but I also see an evolution in the products that we're going to be seeing hitting the market.

For instance, I think we're going to start to see products that contain CBG in it, which is another cannabinoid. CBG is the parent-compound from which THC and CBD both are synthesized to the plant. It's thought that CBG may even have superior properties to CBD. I think they probably all have very good properties. That's one thing we're going to see. We're going to see the use of more terpenes, which are other molecules. Either adding them separately to enhance the biological effect of the product.

I think we're also going to see complex products, ones where, let's say, maybe we're going to combine turmeric, which is also very anti-inflammatory, with CBD. Maybe with some other herbal pain relievers, like as a way of creating a complex pain reliever versus just using CBD alone. I think we'll see that kind of stuff happening. Plus, as more research that's published, we'll be better able to come up with new ideas.

Neal: You're very well known as an integrative veterinary specialist. You have an integrative medicine approach. Can you explain that to me?

Dr. Silver: Yes, very easily. It's like, it's "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." I just want to use everything possible at my-- Everything possible to my advantage to help the patient. They all have to be based on evidence. Medicine is based on objective evidence, that's how we make our decisions in terms of what to do. Maybe life or death, maybe treatment. Integrative medicine uses conventional diagnostics and conventional therapies, blends with them, complementary and alternative therapies, like acupuncture, like herbal, like dietary therapies, like supplements. It puts them all together.

I'm so sorry.

That's what integrative medicine is. For me, I think it's a no-brainer. Why not use everything at your disposal to treat especially complicated problems, like inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, or chronic intractable epilepsy? We need to use everything possible to help the patient.

Neal: I think the people who buy the product the most for me are buying it for older dogs with joint problems. We just recently had a salmon oil company come out with a joint aid with MSM, glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, krill oil, and a full spectrum CBD, all in one product. Is that kind of approach the kind of thing you want to see?

Dr. Silver: No. I think that the consumer wants to have all-in-one products. It makes it easier. Everybody is so busy these days. The amount of time it takes to make homemade food is huge, many people aren't even going to do that. They're going to use, pour, dump some kibble in the bowl, and then they want to put a supplement on, so they feel good about feeling guilty about just feeding kibble. They don't want to have multiple supplements. I think the convenience says, "Let's just have one. It's got fish oil in it. It's got anti-inflammatory herbs for the joint. It's got CBD." I think that that's a trend that we see in the consumer world.

As a veterinarian, I don't think that one size fits all. I think that it's easier for me to tailor specific supplement protocols based on each individual's needs. I'd rather use individual, separate supplements and then dose them for the individual.

Neal: Right. You've been involved in studies around CBD and so on. Can you tell me about CBD and kitty cats and the fact that they all tolerate THC better than dogs?

Dr. Silver: We're still-- Kitty cats are very difficult to study, as you can imagine. There only recently was a published study in cats where they get blood draws to measure blood levels. They started with, I think, ten or eight and they wound up with four. They will actually get blood samples on. There's so much variation from animal to animal with this, I don't know if that really tells us anything.

In this study they found that the cats didn't have split absorption as dogs. higher dosages in order to get an effect-- In order get blood levels, measurable blood levels. What that actually means in terms of its effectiveness, I don't know because pet owners report that the CBD seems to help their cats substantially.

We also have found that cats don't have the same adverse reactions as dogs due to THC so they can tolerate more and maybe because the young absorbs There's so much we're still learning. That's as much as I know about cats in terms of

Neal: I have a customer, a couple customers who like to get their cat stoned. I don't quite understand it but they have admitted that to me.

Dr. Silver: I don't think animals like getting high.

Neal: It doesn't make sense to me.

Dr. Silver: It's all about survival for critters. Even if they're keen, if they're a lap dog, it never goes outside so that's survival. I don't think they like getting high. They feel unstable. They don't feel like they can have control.

Neal: Yes, I'm with you. I'm with you 100%, but it just shocked me the things people try. What's next for Dr. Silver and the CBD industry? What do you see where do you see it coming? Do you think it's going to be you know 2020 is going to be the year for federal legalization in the US?

Dr. Silver: Well, we already have federally legal hemp and I'm happy with that, quite frankly, as I mentioned because with the THC I think it's complicated with animals. I'm not as anxious as others are to see cannabis made legal and available for pets. It already is legal in some states for adult use. I'm working on a couple of research studies. I just completed a pharmacokinetics study in dogs and now we're working on showing efficacy for arthritis in dogs and working on getting that study built. Those are the three things I'm looking for to do this year, get some publications going.

Neal: That's what we've done with our dogs as they've aged, two pups or ten and a half. Certainly, we found that the CBD products have really helped because one of our girls have pity cross and she'll over exercise. She doesn't know her own limitations. After a walk where we know she's overdone, we'll give her proactively some CBD and it works tremendously for her the next day. There's not so creaky and groaning and sore joints or and all that stuff. Do you find that in your practice as well?

Dr. Silver: Well, yes, I'm actually not in practice anymore. I retired from practice.

Neal: Congratulations.

Dr. Silver: But I'm still working actively and I have a lot of contact with pet owners about their experiences and with veterinarians about their experience. I'm like a clearinghouse for all of these different things. I think that that is a very legitimate use of it for pain to help with recovery after excessive exercise. I think trainers are seeing that in the equine with horses and with dogs that are involved with agility and other types of working dog type of injuries. I think CBD is very useful for them.

Neal: Awesome, I guess ultimately, I want to let people know about the two companies you've been involved with most for longest time Rx Vitamins for Pets and I think it's rxvitamins.com. Yes, it's right, rxvitamins.com and that you did-- It was with all of their formulations.

Dr. Silver: Right, I've been with this company for 25 years. I helped to found it and I've done all 37 of their formulations over this 25-year period. We are also available in Canada and we've been up in Canada for 20 years. It's used widely by Canadian veterinarians and dispensed to their clients.

Neal: Phenomenal. Tell people to look out for those products and that if they want to learn more about your some of your CBD stuff, you have Well Pet Dispensary, wellpetdispensary.com.

Dr. Silver: This is true. That's my e-commerce site, that's where I sell the Rx vitamins products and some very high quality hemp products, some... I have my book available there as well.

Neal: Yes, I have to say the book is phenomenal. I recommend it and we do have a few copies we'll end up giving away at this event.

Dr. Silver: Nice, thank you.

Neal: Yes, you were kind enough to send me a couple signed copies so that--

Dr. Silver: Yes, that's cool.

Neal: I think I have the six or eight of them that we'll be giving them a will be giving away randomly to attendees of the event.

Dr. Silver: That's great. I look forward to see then. It should a lot of fun.

Neal: Yes, I just want to say thank you, Dr. Silver. I don't want to take up any more of your time. We've been a little less in an hour, but you know what, it's so packed with information. I'm more than happy, and I really appreciate you giving us your time this morning.

Dr. Silver: It's been my pleasure, and Happy New Year.

Neal: Have a prosperous new, sir.

Dr. Silver: Same for yourself. Thank you, Neal. You take care.

Neal: Thank you very much.

Dr. Silver: Bye, bye.