Basic Hemp Terminology for Veterinary Professionals

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Cannabidiol (CBD) use in pets continues to grow in popularity and as part of the conversation between veterinarians and clients, where clients are increasingly educated and informed.  Veterinary professionals sometimes find that they aren’t familiar with the terminology or the science so here is a brief list of key phrases and common terms that you may find helpful.  

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

The endocannabinoid system is one of the largest receptor systems in the mammalian body and is responsible for maintaining homeostasis. The ECS is comprised of endogenous cannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors and enzymes responsible for synthesis and degradation of endocannabinoids. It is a set of receptors, the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Much of the ongoing research in this area is looking at how these molecules will affect the endocannabinoid system.

Endocannabinoidome (ECM) 

This is an expansion of the ECS, which includes other receptors that endogenous or plant-based cannabinoids have affinity for, such as the TRPV, opioid, serotonin, nuclear receptors and others.


Cannabis a term for a genus of plants that includes the marijuana and hemp plant. Hemp and hemp derived CBD is legal while marijuana and its derivatives are not. 


These are the  set of molecules that are coming from plants that work on the endocannabinoid system, as opposed to endocannabinoids or endogenous ligands, which are molecules created by the body to work on the endocannabinoid system. “Cannabinoids” is often used to refer to either endogenously produced or plant produced.


Terpenes are a set of molecules produced by many plants that add to the aroma of different fruits, flowers and plants in general. They are thought to add to the potential therapeutic benefits of phytocannabinoids, and have beneficial properties of their own such as calming, anti inflammatory etc. 


Flavonoids are a set of molecules also produced by many plants that add to the flavor of different fruits, flowers and plants in general. They are thought to add to the potential therapeutic benefits of phytocannabinoids and terpenes.

Entourage Effect

This refers to the synergy found when a full or complete spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes interact with ECS related enzymes. Some products use isolated molecules of CBD or other cannabinoids and generally this is a less desirable product as the sum of the parts do not seem to be equal to the effects of the whole. 

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