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Can CBD Treat Depression in Elephants?

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

Elephants are known to be highly emotional animals who even mourn their family members that have passed and returning to their graves. Can CBD help them deal with the loss of a family member?

Zookeepers at Poland’s Warsaw Zoo are going to be putting this to the test in a new research initiative. They have announced their new project in which they will test whether CBD oil can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression exhibited in elephants. And the main question is, can CBD treat depression in elephants?

This comes after the herd’s elder died, with some of the herd showing their distress. Fredzia, a female elephant, has been seen grieving and seems to be the most affected by the loss of their leader, prompting researchers to carry out their research.

Head of the zoo’s Animal Rehabilitation Department, Dr Agnieszka Czujkowska, noted that Fredzia was “acting strangely” when she saw the body of the herd leader and largest female, Erna. Fredzia exhibited signs of depression and stress after this, and further struggled to establish a relationship with her new female companion. Czujkowska noted that elephants are stress-prone animals, but are easy to monitor which make them a great candidate for this study.

The initial phase of the trial included collecting blood, faecal and saliva samples so researchers will be able to monitor cortisol levels in the elephants. Cortisol is produced by both animals and humans in response to stress. CBD oil is then to be administered via the elephant’s food. Zookeepers will then measure cortisone levels again and see whether CBD has reduced stress levels or not.

However, we will all have to be patient as the results of this study are not expected to become public for the next two years at least. If results are promising, the zoo does plan on expanding the study to other stressed animals such as bears and rhinos.

Although there is CBD available for animals currently, there is no evidence for CBD in such large animals, and no comprehensive studies showing the efficacy of CBD related to animals and stress.

As with many things in cannabis, we need more research! And this research will give great insight into CBD alone, as well as the use of CBD in animals. So, can CBD treat depression in elephants? Patience will be key as we wait to find out!

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