STAY INFORMED ABOUT WHAT CANNABIS CAN DO FOR YOUR PETS
BY ERIN KIRKPATRICK
San Francisco-based TreatWell Health followed the success stories of cannabis treatments in humans and began marketing cannabis products for pets. Now, TreatWell Health sells cannabis tinctures that can be dropped directly into animals’ mouths or added to their edibles. The beneficial qualities of cannabis have been shown to treat everything from anxiety to Alzheimer’s to hot spots with no negative side effects, and pet owners are starting to seek out this controversial treatment.
Credit: Edibles Magazine
Despite questions of legality and perpetual gray areas, Alison Ettel TreatWell’s CEO and co-founder is hell bent on spreading the word about cannabis, a treatment that has helped many patients herself included.
Get Leashed Magazine sat down with Ettel to discuss her experiences with TreatWell Health and what she wants everyone to know about cannabis.
Credit: Instagram / @treatwellhealth
PLEASE TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT YOUR COMPANY DOES, AND WHAT A TYPICAL DAY IN THE OFFICE IS LIKE.
It would be nice if we actually had offices. We’re bootstrapped, so maybe someday we can afford offices!
Ninety-nine percent of my job is education. I’m out there trying to get the word out because people need to listen. I’m probably going to start a YouTube channel, and I’ve been asked to do this, to do little videos to teach and right the misinformation out there. I want to set the record straight and have a little medical minute. Something like, “This is the misnomer and here is the truth.” I’m hopefully launching this initiative in the next few months.
Our goal is very simple: To provide the highest quality possible cannabis medicine that we can for both humans and animals. I’m all about what’s best for the patient and what’s cheapest for the patient. We’re just continuously experimenting with compounds and different combinations of plants to see if we can get what works better for a patient. That’s our goal.
Credit: Instagram / @treatwellhealth
We’ve been treating humans for the past 20 years. My business partner treated his own conditions with patients, and patients started coming to him. Then animals started coming to him about 10 years ago. The animals came to him because there really was no other option. They had late-stage cancer or seizures and medications weren’t doing anything. Owners were desperate and said the only other option was to put the animal down.
They said, “We know that you treat humans, you know, can you treat animals?” and he agreed. We started collecting more and more data. Luckily, he kept notes. And when I came on board, I took all those notes and put them into big data engines – spreadsheets, databases, etc. I was able to evaluate the data as well as treating more and more patients. We’ve treated thousands now, and we’ve been able to collect data on them. Now, we can treat both humans and animals, not as a last resort but as a first resort.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GET INVOLVED IN THE CANNABIS SPACE?
So, to give a little bit of background on myself and how I got started, I’m pretty recent to the industry. I’m about five years in. My business partner has been in the cannabis industry for about 20 – 25 years.
I come from a very professional background, doing everything from Wall Street think tanks and software companies, and I started getting into cannabis after I recovered from a coma caused by meningitis. I’m not supposed to be alive today.
I’ve never gotten high, still haven’t gotten high, and have no interest in that. For me, the passion is really from the medical side and how it helped me and how it can really help others is what got me interested in it. So, I dropped everything and started taking classes. I have an MBA and a couple of other Masters Degrees. I really like research, so I started taking classes on biochemistry – on how to do extractions, botany – in an effort to find the best business partner. So, I went up to Humboldt.
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CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT HUMBOLDT? WHY DID YOU GO THERE?
It’s just a land of cannabis. This is where all the back-to-the-landers moved in the 50s, essentially to get away from the US government. It’s a thriving community of cannabis, and it has a very long generational history of growing the best cannabis in the world. Humboldt has the best extractors, the best growers, and micro-climates that are very well suited to the plant.
I went up there for three months and started talking to people to try to find a partner. Humboldt, if you’re not familiar with it is kinda like the Wild West. They don’t like outsiders because they have I’d say PTSD – they’ve been raided so many times, and the government is constantly going after them. It’s a really harsh place to survive and they don’t like outsiders. So, when I went up there obviously they didn’t trust me because I don’t look like I use cannabis and I don’t smoke, so instantly they thought I was the federal government, and I’m not. So, finally they started to realize that I’m not going away, and I told them, “I’m looking for the best extractors and growers that you have.” They wanted to use me for politics and that’s what happened. I started talking to politicians on their behalf because I look very professional. I agreed to be the face of the farmers and the community in exchange for being introduced to the best people in the cannabis industry. I finally found my business partner after three months of going up there and meeting him seven times before he told me what he did. By that time, I knew how to evaluate how they grew and how they extracted. He was the perfect fit for what I was looking for and wanted to bring to patients.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE WITH ANIMALS AND THE BIGGEST REWARD?
The biggest challenge for animals is that veterinarians are not allowed to recommend or prescribe cannabis. They have a fear of losing their license if they even bring up the subject. They’re very very strict about who’s governing the veterinarians, and the veterinarians are searching for options and alternatives for these animals. They contact me almost daily saying, “We know traditional medications aren’t helping the animal, and it’s hurting them.” They’re looking for safer, effective alternatives that don’t damage organs, and that’s why they’re seeking out cannabis. They’re not allowed to, so they do it by contacting me anonymously. Veterinarians are secretly slipping my information to patients. They’re saying, “Contact this person. I can’t talk about it, but you should contact this person.” That’s what’s happening.
It’s been a huge challenge as many say there is no research on animals. That’s simply not true. There’s a lot of research on animals, and actually, the research that’s for humans was initially done on animals.
Unfortunately, right now our only option is observational data and that’s what we do. That’s what we are known for. We have so much information and so much data, and we’ve been able to advocate it. We at least have a starting point for patients now.
Another huge challenge that I run into is people say, “You’re just trying to get the animal high.” We don’t get any animal high. We don’t get any human high. You can actually use cannabis in ways completely non-psychoactive and that’s what we specialize in.
Credit: TreatWell Health
HOW DO YOU ENSURE THAT ANIMALS AND HUMANS DON’T EXPERIENCE PSYCHOACTIVE ELEMENTS?
It’s all about ratios. When CBD and THC exist together in the plant, the CBD will actually counteract the psychoactivity of the THC. So if there’s a 50/50 ratio, for example, you’re not going to feel that 50 percent THC. You might feel maybe a quarter of that. With cannabis, if you start with very small ratios – this is what we recommend for every patient (human or animal) – it is not physically possible to have any psychoactivity from that.
Credit: TreatWell Health
HOW TO YOU FACE THE LEGAL RESTRICTIONS QUESTIONS REGARDING CANNABIS LAW?
It’s exceptionally difficult. By law, we are only allowed to sell, whether for pets or humans, within the State of California. We’re not allowed to cross state lines because it’s federally illegal. It makes it really hard because people are coming to me from every other state and now other countries, and I can’t do anything. I’m getting about 100 to 300 emails a day from people outside of California, and I have to turn every single one of them away. It’s breaking my heart. My hands are completely tied. I can’t do a thing about it. So, that’s really hard. It’s also a gray area treating animals with cannabis. I’m willing to stick my neck out because of the results I’ve seen. I’ve seen better results in animals than I have in humans, and that’s something that I’m not going to walk away from.
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CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE DIFFERENCES WHEN TREATING PETS VERSUS HUMANS?
I think there are a few things going on that I’ve observed.
#1. You can consistently dose the animal. They don’t have a choice. The human gives the animal the medicine, so it’s more consistent with dosing.
#2. Animals don’t have the same anxiety and stress levels that humans do, and this seems to promote a higher level of effectivity. This is just my hypothesis based on observation.
#3. Animals metabolize cannabis differently than humans. I can tell you that we’re seeing better results in animals than in humans, especially with cancer.
We do a lot of end-of-life care for both humans and animals, more so in animals. Animals have a different way of passing away. With humans, there’s a lot of anxiety around end of life. It’s not wrong or right – it just is what it is.
Animals will find a quiet place. They will change their routines, stop eating, and simply slip away. When we’ve given them 1:1 tinctures, a recommendation during end-of-life care, we see them change completely. They will no longer hide, no longer become anti-social, and they act more like they did when they were puppies and kittens. They’re a lot more playful and engaged until the day they pass away.
WHAT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY OF MARKETING YOUR PRODUCTS?
We don’t do any advertising or marketing. We don’t even have a sales person because we can’t keep up with the demand. I speak around the country, and I love talking to people about what we do. As a result, we’re well known for treating animals now as well as humans. We don’t need to do any advertising, and we prefer word of mouth. Most of our business comes from doctors, nurses, as well as veterinarians and vet techs, and from patients.
Credit: TreatWell Health
WHAT KIND OF PRODUCTS DO YOU OFFER PETS?
TreatWell has a line of non-psychoactive, non-toxic tinctures for cats and dogs of all sizes – 1:1 CBD:THC Pet and 20:1 CBD:THC Pet. When applied topically, the Wellness Blend designed by Ettel eliminated hot spots and prevented them from returning!
CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT A TINCTURE IS? WHY IS THIS THE BEST METHOD FOR PETS?
A “tincture” is essentially a liquid form of cannabis. It’s placed in a dropper bottle, combined with our own extract, and blended with fractionated coconut oil and wild salmon oil. Coconut oil aids in easy, fast absorption, and it’s very healthy and nutritious for the body. It also allows very consistent dosing.
We concentrate on tinctures because of how effective they are. They’re not just effective for the patient in terms of being fast-acting and long-lasting, they’re also very easy to dose up and dose down. Dosing is very important for both humans and animals – you want to find the “effective minimum dose.” Our current culture suggests more is better, but this is not the case with cannabis.
WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO SAY TO PEOPLE ABOUT TREATWELL HEALTH AND CANNABIS-ORIENTED COMPANIES?
I’m not a hippie. I’m not against Western medicine at all. I’m the opposite. I believe Western medicine can work really well in conjunction with cannabis, and I’ve seen it work. It’s been very compatible. It’s not an either-or decision; although, a lot of people think it is.
That’s not the case at all. Western and Holistic Medicine can work well together.
For example, cannabis can be very nourishing and helpful to patients going through traditional chemotherapy. It protects nerve endings from neuropathy, increases appetite, and reduces nausea. The side effects of chemotherapy can easily be prevented or lessened.
Doctors come to me because they don’t know that much about cannabis. They might have misinformation or partial facts.
Even though I’m not a medical professional, I’m having these discussions and sharing our experiences and observations with the medical community. I only want what’s best for the patient.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PETS? IF SO, HAVE YOU TREATED ANY OF THEM WITH CANNABIS?
No, I wish. I would love to have pets, but my lifestyle won’t allow for it. I live in an apartment in San Francisco and travel extensively. I’d feel guilty if I had to leave the animal. However, I do foster with the SPCA, and this is a way I can give back and also get my animal fix. It’s best for everybody. Kitten season is starting, so I’ll start fostering kittens. I just finished fostering the three cutest German Shepherd + Lab puppies!
I have a very clear boundary about treating animals and only do so when requested. We do supply free medicine to rescue organizations. I’m very much into giving as much as I possibly can for free.
Right now, I’m working on any animals that aren’t cats or dogs for free. We’ve already worked with pigs, alpacas, goats, and bearded dragons. I really want to treat more reptiles! We’re only just beginning trials on horses and birds.
LASTLY, CAN YOU LEAVE US WITH A STORY OF AN ANIMAL THAT YOU TREATED THAT REALLY STUCK WITH YOU AND SOLIDIFIED YOUR BELIEF IN A CANNABIS TREATMENTS?
There are so many to choose from, so I’ll have to give you a few!
- The first dog was treated by my business partner. It came to him with a tumor on its leg and was given three months to live. Treatment started and the tumor kept going down in size and one day, it completely disappeared. The cancer was gone. The dog is still alive today. That was 9 1/2 years ago.
- A dog came to us for end-of-life care and started treatment. Soon after our treatment, the lab results came back indicating no cancer.
- An older cat named Chelsea was receiving end-of-life care and began withdrawing to quiet spaces and stopped eating. We gave her the 1:1 tincture, the next day she ate an entire bowl of food, climbed a tree, which she hadn’t done in years, and visited all her favorite spots in the woods. She did this until she died years later.
- The most recent example: A month ago, a dog began experiencing pain and stopped going on walks. It wasn’t able to do its favorite thing in the world. We gave it the 1:1, it started going on walks again, which it hadn’t done in the past six months. While the dog did pass on it, it was able to enjoy a good quality of life, including much-loved walks.
The one thing I hear over and over again, and it’s true, from every patient is that they wish they knew earlier. For whatever it is, they all say, “Why didn’t I know about this before?”
It’s incredible. We’re seeing good results with no side effects – it doesn’t harm them, it only helps them. The turnaround stories are pretty amazing. We don’t just stop at anxiety and pain. There are so many other conditions now that we’re treating that we didn’t even know we could treat. We’re always expanding and pushing the limits. Maybe it can help this. Maybe it can help that. We started off with cancer and seizures because we knew it could help, and then we moved onto pain and now we’re onto things like thyroid and Cushing’s Disease. Who knew it could completely reverse Cushing’s Disease?
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO SAY?
Thank you so much for covering this. I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate people doing stories on this subject matter. People just wish they knew and knew earlier, so thank you for doing it.
You can learn more about TreatWell Health‘s products by visiting their website and following their social media presences.