Cannabidiol (CBD) and horses: What is it good for?
Hemp seeds, from which hemp oil is extracted. © ElinorD [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons
” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/www.horsetalk.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Hempseeds.jpg?fit=300%2C167&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/www.horsetalk.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Hempseeds.jpg?fit=800%2C445&ssl=1″ loading=”lazy” src=”https://i1.wp.com/www.horsetalk.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Hempseeds.jpg?resize=800%2C445&ssl=1″ alt=”Hemp seeds, from which hemp oil is extracted.” width=”800″ height=”445″ srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/www.horsetalk.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Hempseeds.jpg?w=800&ssl=1 800w, https://i1.wp.com/www.horsetalk.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Hempseeds.jpg?resize=300%2C167&ssl=1 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 800px) 100vw, 800px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ /> Hemp seeds, from which hemp oil is extracted. © ElinorD [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5], from Wikimedia Commons CBD. Whether you’re already using it, you’re thinking about it, or just plain never heard of it, it’s worth getting more familiar with. No, it is not the latest “snake oil” touting cures from hair loss to ingrown toenails. Instead, it is a chemical messenger in the “endocannabinoid system”, a natural and crucial part of the body. Research on this system is extensive, with years of examination and hundreds of studies.
My goal in writing this article is to offer you an overview of how CBD can impact your health as well as the health of your horses, dogs 1 , and cats. From a personal perspective, I have experienced significant pain relief from sciatica. Many of my clients have decided to use it for themselves, offering them better sleep, lessened anxiety and depression, improved digestive health, allergy relief, and reduced pain.
Chester is my 22-year-old horse. He suffers from arthritis in his hocks and knees and is now moving with much greater ease. Clients who have decided to try CBD for their horses have offered very positive feedback. Inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and ulcerations are showing improvement, as well as pain relief from laminitis. Horses with anxiety or “sensitive” behavior, have a more relaxed demeanor. And, metabolic conditions may be potentially alleviated, which is quite exciting. While it’s too soon to tell if leptin and insulin levels are declining from CBD treatment, there have been studies showing how CBD reduces insulin resistance and obesity 2 , as well as appetite, in people with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. 3
What is CBD and is it marijuana?
CBD is short for “cannabidiol”, one of more than 80 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD and THC are the two most studied, and this is where many misunderstandings stem from.
Cannabis sativa L. (genus, species, and subspecies) is the “umbrella term” for the plants known as hemp and marijuana. Marijuana is particularly high in THC, the cannabinoid that creates a psychoactive “high.” CBD, on the other hand, does not create this effect.
Hemp-derived CBD is not marijuana. Although both hemp and marijuana belong to the Cannabis genus, their genetic composition distinguishes them to produce vastly different amounts of THC. Hemp-derived CBD is high in CBD and very low in THC (less than 0.3%).
Though hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 US states, thanks to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill 4 , federal law does not preempt state law, and there are still some restrictions within various states 5 . Just as many cities throughout the country prohibit alcohol sales, there are local and state laws that restrict industrial hemp products. But bottom line, it is legal to purchase and consume hemp-derived CBD products. The FDA 6 does not regulate it so it behooves you to choose a reputable company that is willing to disclose the source, extraction method, and analysis of their products.
A young cannabis plant in the vegetative stage. Plantlady223 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
What is the endocannabinoid system?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a major signaling system that exists in you and your animals. It continually monitors any instability within the body and returns it to a state of balance or homeostasis so that the internal environment remains stable.
CBD and other cannabinoids are compounds that activate this system. Cannabinoids, both naturally produced by the body (endogenous), and those supplemented from cannabis (exogenous), act as “keys” to these receptors, turning on a variety of functions.
Within the ECS there are two main cell receptors — CB1 and CB2:
- CB1 receptors exist mainly in the brain and central nervous system. They impact areas such as appetite regulation, memory, emotions, and feelings of pain.
- CB2 receptors are concentrated in the gastrointestinal tract and peripheral nervous system (nerve cells outside the brain and spinal cord) and modulate immune cell functions. When activated, they help reduce inflammation.
Endogenous cannabinoids are produced when the body signals that they are required, but are quickly degraded. Offering CBD (exogenous cannabinoid) allows the ECS to work harder and be more productive to help us and our animals deal with health issues such as:
- Anxiety and depression 7
- Insomnia 8
- Pain and inflammation 9
- obesity/increased appetite/leptin resistance 10,11
- Metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance 12
- Immune deficiencies and autoimmune diseases 13
- Digestive disturbances/ulcers/colitis 14
CBD has a favorable safety profile 15 . If overdosed, it can have some mild effects. These can include drowsiness, decreased blood pressure, dizziness, fatigue, and diarrhea. If you or your animals experience any of these, you can cut back on the dosage. Long-term use appears to be safe, though further research is needed.
Noteworthy: Until we know more, CBD should not be taken by pregnant women, though many women purport relief from nausea during pregnancy. Consult your veterinarian before giving it to a pregnant animal. It should not be given to children without professional permission. Since it can interact with some drugs 16 , including anti-epileptic and blood thinner medications, it is best to consult with your doctor or pharmacist when you have any doubts.
Jonesy, Dec 2018
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Let’s talk horses
As of this date, there are few, if any, research studies that use horses as subjects. But I expect this will quickly change as more and more companies are selling CBD for equine consumption. In the meantime, anecdotal responses are highly favorable. From first-hand accounts of horse owners, hemp-derived CBD appears to stimulate the horse’s ECS in the same way it does yours. It is well tolerated, without any euphoric or adverse effects. Specific health conditions that CBD may improve, based on currently available studies with humans and laboratory animals include:
- Pain 17 from arthritis 18 or laminitis
- Anxiety during stall confinement 19
- Stress during traveling and shows 20
- Ulcers and leaky gut 21
- Healing from surgery or injury 22
- Immune system depression from oxidative stress 23 experienced with Cushing’s disease
- Appetite regulation 24
- Obesity 25
- Inflammation, with the potential to reduce leptin levels 26
- Insulin resistance 23
Horse competition rules and testing
The FEI and the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) have strict rules regarding medicating horses before events. Recently, the USEF announced that as of September 1, 2019, positive test results for cannabinoids will incur violations.
Since it is THC that is detectable by a blood or urine test, it is highly unlikely for a positive test result to occur since hemp-derived CBD contains only minute amounts of THC. Nonetheless, it is possible, so it is best to discontinue its use 7 to 10 days before an event. Even if you choose a CBD isolate or broad-spectrum product (which does not contain any THC), it is best to err on the side of caution by stopping before an event.
Choose a safe, quality product
First, know where the hemp was grown. Choose products grown in the US or Canada. If it was grown overseas with potentially relaxed growing standards, it could be contaminated with chemicals, bacteria, and heavy metals that put your health at risk.
To ensure a clean, safe product, it is best to buy CBD that has been tested and offers a Certificate of Analysis (COA) posted on the company’s website This document shows how the company meets and adheres to product specifications and standards of production.
Some other things to pay attention to with CBD products:
- Check the label for accurate CBD content per dose.
- Choose a product from an organic source.
- Look for the percentage of THC on a provided COA.
Industrial hemp harvesting in France. © Aleks [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
CBD isolate, full-spectrum, or broad-spectrum?
CBD isolate means that the product contains only CBD with no other naturally occurring cannabinoids, including THC. That also means that other substances that are found in the plant, such as terpenes and flavonoids, have been fully extracted.
If you are undergoing a drug test for a job, it is best to use the isolate or stop your usage of the full-spectrum product a week or two before the test.
Full-spectrum is a whole plant CBD, meaning that it contains CBD and other cannabinoids (less than 0.3% THC), as well as terpenes, flavonoids, and active essential oils.
Broad-spectrum products also contain the whole plant compounds like full-spectrum, but the THC has been removed.
The “entourage effect”. It used to be thought that CBD isolate was the best approach. But it is now better understood that the cannabinoids and plant compounds found in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD create a synergism where they work together to complement each other, offering a greater impact on health conditions.
It’s important to note that dogs and cats can benefit from hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD, even though they cannot tolerate THC from marijuana. The tiny amount of THC found in this product is safe may further increase the entourage effect.
Why is it so expensive?
It takes a lot of hemp plants to create a CBD oil (tincture). Products called “ hemp oil ” are not necessarily concentrated with CBD. Hempseed oil is a nutritious oil, high in essential fatty acids, but it is not a good source of CBD. Before you buy, read the label carefully to determine just how much CBD exists in the product.
What extraction method is best?
When researching a CBD product for you and your animals, it is best to know the extraction method used to remove CBD from the plant. Going through each method is beyond the scope of this article, but the approach that is most complete and the cleanest is a CO2 extraction. It uses carbon dioxide (CO2) to extract CBD from the plant to create products that are pure and very powerful.
How much CBD is in one dose?
The label should provide you with the amount of CBD per dose. But it can be confusing.
When using a CBD tincture, you should see the number of mgs of CBD in the full bottle. Some products can be very diluted, so be sure the manufacturer’s label is detailed and specific.
Many tinctures will offer directions by the “dropper-full.” But getting a full dropper is not always possible or can be inaccurate. The best approach is to first determine the amount of CBD in each drop. By knowing how many mgs are in each drop, you can accurately dispense the desired dosage.
To do this, you need to know these three things:
- There are 30ml of oil in a typical CBD tincture bottle,
- A full dropper-full is 1ml, and
- There are 20 drops in a ml
1. CBD tincture that offer 2500mg of CBD in the entire 30ml bottle:
- Divide 2500 by 30 to get the number of mg per dropper-full (1ml). This calculates to be 83.3mg of CBD in 1ml
- Divide 83.3 by 20 to give you the level of CBD per drop. This calculates to be about 4mg per drop.
2. CBD tincture for pets that offers 250mg of CBD in the entire 30ml bottle:
- 250 divided by 30 = 8.3mg of CBD in one dropper-full (1ml)
- 8.3 divided by 20 = .42mg (slightly less than ½mg) of CBD per drop
Other forms of CBD such as pellets, gummies, capsules, and topicals should offer specific amounts of CBD per dose.
What is the best dosage?
Dosages are weight dependent and based on the severity of the situation. It is best to start slowly, and then increase the dose as needed. A little trial and error is necessary to find the right dose that is best for you or your animals. Keep in mind that it takes about 2 weeks for the body to experience relief and will continue to improve over time.
Dosage recommendations are not standardized. However, through research studies and applications, here are generalized daily guidelines. I have found that dividing the dose into two servings is better than administering once daily.
- Under 25lbs: 10mg
- 25 to 75lbs: 10 to 20mg
- 75 or more lbs: 20-40mg
- Less than 100lbs: 20 to 40mg
- 100 to 174lbs: 30 to 60mg
- Over 175lbs: 60 to 90mg
- Minis: 25 to 50mg
- Full sized (1100lbs): 75 to 170mg
- Large breeds: 120 to 200mg
How to administer CBD
There are several ways to provide CBD:
- Sublingual: Placing the drops under the tongue and holding them there for 30 seconds provides good bioavailability and kicks in quickly. This is difficult to do for animals and is not recommended since most droppers are made of glass and can cause injury if bitten.
- Oral: Adding CBD to food, swallowing a CBD capsule, or chewing a CBD gummy, will take the longest time for the effects to become apparent, but this method is longer lasting than under the tongue. Pellets (typically available for animals) that are extruded are better absorbed than pellets that use binders, providing improved bioavailability and hence, lower effective dosing 27 .
- Pulmonary: CBD vapes are available. While this has the highest bioavailability, it has the shortest duration of action. I typically do no recommend this for people with any respiratory conditions, since it could be potentially harmful.
- Topical: CBD is absorbed well into the skin and is beneficial for targeted areas 28 .
Even though experts have been studying for decades the benefits of CBD, there is still research that needs to be done, especially for horses. Nevertheless, the outcome thus far is encouraging, revealing long-reaching benefits on the natural endocannabinoid system, providing relief from mental and physical ailments that affect us, our families, and our animals.
Cannabis sativa L. is the “umbrella term” for the plants known as hemp and marijuana. Marijuana is particularly high in THC, the cannabinoid that creates a psychoactive “high.” CBD, on the other hand, does not create this effect.
Which CBD Product is Best for Horses?
You know more about your horse than me.
I’m sure she’s super active and can’t wait for you to take her out for a ride.
But here’s the truth:
Despite being active animals, horses can suffer from a wide variety of health problems.
And I’m sure you already know that too…
However, what I can reveal to you is a safe and natural supplement made from cannabis and hemp. It can help treat many of the health problems commonly affecting horses.
In this special report for horse owners, I’m going to examine CBD, which is renowned for its health benefits, and show you how it can keep your horse happy and healthy.
After a ton of research and feedback, I have rated the formulas from HolistaPet to be the best option right now. They have amazing ingredients and great prices as well.
Why Should You Use CBD With Your Horse?
CBD is a compound found in cannabis and hemp plants.
And while the idea of giving your horse cannabis might seem bizarre, it really isn’t.
Recent research has shown us that CBD has a very wide range of medicinal potential that can help both humans and animals deal with a really broad spectrum of symptoms.
When CBD enters the body, its effects are mitigated by the endocannabinoid system, a physiological system that occurs naturally in all mammals.
This system is made up of a variety of receptors and neurological pathways.
And while we still don’t entirely understand the endocannabinoid system and how it works, recent research shows that it’s involved in managing a whole variety of bodily processes, including:
- Metabolism and appetite
- Emotion and mood
Now, you’re probably wondering why you and your horse naturally have a system in your body designed to process the compounds found in cannabis.
Well, turns out the endocannabinoid system actually produces 2 compounds (known as anandamide and 2-AG) which are structurally very similar to CBD and some other compounds found in the cannabis plant.
Hence, when you or your pet consume CBD, the compound almost mimics the effects of the chemicals your body produces naturally.
In doing so, it helps give your endocannabinoid system a boost and can help restore balance to your body, as well as offer relief from a wide variety of symptoms and conditions.
Last year, for example, the World Health Organization came out and said that CBD may help with everything from mental conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to physical symptoms like chronic pain and inflammation.
For example, a variety of studies have shown that CBD and other cannabinoids can help fight the chronic inflammation and swelling caused by Arthritis.
The cannabinoid receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system are located all around the body.
By interacting with these receptors, compounds like CBD are able to start a complex biological chain of events that help bring down inflammation in the joints.
In fact, CBD and other cannabis compounds have also been shown to help fight the inflammation of the brain caused by mental conditions like Parkinson’s.
But it doesn’t end there; CBD has many other health benefits that can help both you and your pet control a wide variety of symptoms (I’ll look at these in more detail shortly).
Now, you might be saying this:
“There’s no way I’m giving my horse ‘pot’!”
The good news is, however, that you don’t have to.
I first started researching CBD when my dog Rosie was diagnosed with cancer and hip dysplasia.
And, like many other pet owners out there, no matter how many good things I heard about CBD, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of giving my dog “weed.”
But, thanks to countless hours of research, I soon learned that CBD was nothing like the recreational drug we know as “marijuana.”
Marijuana is made using the flowers of the female cannabis plant.
When these flowers are harvested, dried, and smoked, they produce a chemical known as THC.
This is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis and is responsible for causing the euphoric “high” we associate with cannabis.
CBD, however, is a completely different compound.
While it can also be found in female cannabis flowers, it is found in much higher concentration in hemp, a species of cannabis that typically contains extremely low concentrations of THC.
Best of all, CBD produces none of the “high” that THC does.
In fact, research shows that CBD is completely safe and doesn’t produce any side effects.
Once I learned the difference between CBD and marijuana, I was able to completely change my perspective and decided to use CBD supplements with my dog Rosie.
And, as you’ll learn later on in this article, I’m so glad I did.
For more information about the safety of CBD, click here.
What Symptoms in Horses Will CBD Help?
CBD can help a bunch of medical symptoms.
Horses, just like any other living being, can suffer from a whole variety of health conditions.
In my research, I learned that the most common health problems affecting horses include:
- Arthritis: Horses are naturally active animals. As they get older, it is very common for horses to experience degeneration of their joints, especially in the fetlock and knees.
- Gastric Ulcers: Gastric ulcers are very painful and can affect a horse’s appetite, appearance, and nature.
- Desmitis: This condition is characterized by the inflammation of a ligament, usually the suspensory, and collateral ligaments in the legs and coffin joint. The most common symptom of desmitis is lameness.
- Laminitis: Laminitis is characterized by chronic inflammation of the laminae, a small soft tissue structure found in the hoof that causes severe pain.
- Colic: Colic is a condition that causes severe pain in the abdomen.
Most of the conditions I listed above are characterized either by chronic inflammation or pain, both of which can be very crippling symptoms.
Luckily, studies show that CBD can help tackle both pain and inflammation.
Like some other cannabinoids, CBD has been shown to suppress pain signals and pathways in the body, offering fast, temporary relief from different types of pain.
When it comes to inflammation, like I mentioned before, CBD is able to boost activity of the endocannabinoid system which kick-starts a variety of bodily processes that help to reduce inflammation and swelling.
Hence, it’s no wonder CBD has become an increasingly popular medication for patients dealing with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other conditions characterized by inflammation and pain.
In fact, I’ve used CBD to treat inflammation and pain myself; with my dog Rosie.
The dysplasia Rosie had caused her constant hip pain, and eventually led her to develop arthritis in her hip joint, too.
Her tumor, on the other hand, also caused her chronic pain as it grew.
As her condition progressed, I noticed Rosie was a completely different dog.
Prior to her diagnosis, she was always an active, happy dog with a bold personality that instantly lit up the entire room she was in.
But her health problems had made her lethargic and lazy, and she seemed visually depressed and sad as she lounged around the house all day.
She also gradually lost interest in activities that she used to like, including going on walks or playing fetch in the backyard.
Seeing this change was devastating for me and my entire family.
But using CBD helped us turn Rosie’s condition around and bring back the dog we all knew and loved.
Within the first week on CBD, Rosie seemed happier and more active.
As the weeks went on, she suddenly started joining us on walks again and was actively seeking out play-time like she used to.
My vet also noticed a big reduction in the inflammation in her hip.
Most importantly, CBD helped our Rosie get back to her former self and let her enjoy a good end to her life.
As pet owners, we all know how valuable that is.
How Do You Give CBD to Horses? What’s a Proper Dosage?
Dosage depends on the weight of your pet.
So horses will require way more product than a dog or a cat.
To help my dog Rosie with her condition, I used a combination of different CBD products.
I would use CBD oil whenever I saw Rosie dealing with acute symptoms and wanted to offer her fast relief.
CBD oil can be administered under your pet’s tongue, where it is quickly absorbed by the mucous membranes underneath.
I’d also use CBD infused dog treats occasionally, which offer a slower, yet steadier release of CBD and longer-lasting relief.
Finally, I’d also use topical solutions like balms to spot treat the inflammation in Rosie’s hip.
I’d usually do this in the evening before bed to give her long-lasting relief while she slept.
But when it comes to horses, however, I would recommend sticking to using CBD oils.
The exact dosage will be recommended by the manufacturer.
Choosing the Right CBD Product for Your Horse
When it comes to choosing the right CBD product for your horse, there are a number of things to keep in mind.
First of all, you’ll want to think about the condition/symptoms your horse is experiencing.
For example, if your horse suffers from colic, you’ll likely want to use a product that’s ingested but also isn’t intrusive and likely to cause your pet an upset stomach.
If, on the other hand, your horse deals with chronic inflammation in a joint or other part of the body, you may want to look into topical solutions like a CBD-rich spray or balm.
Like I said, I personally recommend using CBD oil for horses.
These oils are easy to administer (directly into your horse’s mouth) and offer fast relief from symptoms. Also, the fact that most oils come with a dropper make them super easy to dose.
Another thing you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing a CBD product for your horse is this:
Since horses are large animals, you’ll want to use CBD supplements that are either specifically designed to be used for horses or at least formulated for large animals.
Finally, you’ll also want to use products from a well-respected brand to ensure you’re getting a quality product that works.
The Top 3 CBD Brands to Consider
CBD is becoming an increasingly popular niche, and there are a number of CBD pet brands already on the market.
Below are 3 brands I highly recommend for any horse owner looking to try CBD right now:
HolistaPet is one my favourite CBD companies to recommend to pet owners, and I’m happy to say that they now have products specifically designed for horses.
What’s great is that HolistaPet offers two kinds of product solutions for horses:
- CBD Equine Formula (Oil)
- CBD Horse Pellets (Hemp for Horses)
Their Equine Formula comes in a 120 ml bottle.
It’s made in the USA and contains all natural ingredients with no THC.
You can administer it directly in your horse’s mouth, or put drops into water or food.
As with all products from HolistaPet, they’re 100% organic and vegan, and contain no GMOs.
Their horse pellets are one of the easiest ways to administer CBD.
As of right now, HolistaPet is the only brand that offers this type of product.
These pellets are for horses of all sizes, and may help with reducing pain and anxiety, while improving recovery.
HolistaPet offers really simple dosing instructions for these pellets as well.
This is one of the easiest ways to promote the overall health of your horse.
2. HempMy Pet
HempMy Pet is another brand I recommend a lot these days.
Quality is the main reason why. They have great ingredients, and all their production is done in-house. So you always get consistent products.
Their Equine Formula for horses comes in a large 120ml bottle.
The ingredients are all organic and human grade.
From all the research I’ve done, I believe this company truly makes amazing products because of their high quality ingredients and manufacturing processes.
Their CBD infused products are made with their own hemp. They actually have their own farms where they grow the ingredients used in their products.
Again, I feel this brand will become one of the leaders in the “Pet CBD” industry soon.
I’ve used the full line of Canna-Pet CBD products with my dog Rosie and I was impressed with the quality of the products and the results they produced.
Canna-Pet also offers a bunch of information on their website about dosing and other important topics to help pet owners stay informed about how to use their products.
Canna-Pet is another one of the few CBD pet companies that has products specifically designed to be used with horses.
These mixtures contain a specially formulated extract made from whole hemp plants and are available in large bottles of up to 120ml.
All in all, I was happy with the quality of Canna-Pets products, and I also saw that their website had countless positive reviews.
One downfall is that their prices on the large 120ml bottles are quite a bit more than HempMy Pet.
Are Other Owners Using CBD With Their Horses?
As pet owners, we’re always wanting to make sure that any new medication or supplement we’re thinking of giving our pets is tried and tested.
Kai is a horse seeing great results with these products.
Screenshot taken from Canna-Pet.com
Kai’s owners have stated that her inflammation and fluid build up from arthritis has improved dramatically.
Not only that, they also state that her overall mood has greatly increased, even at the age of 17!
There are many other horses who are benefiting from CBD.
I know this because I’ve received quite a few success emails recently, and it seems more companies are starting to promote these products.
You might not hear as much because all the dog stories being published, but know that CBD has been helping horses too.
The Best CBD Products for Horses
My #1 one recommendation for horses is HolistaPet’s Equine Formula and Pellets.
Like I said, their products are of the highest quality, and I am especially impressed by the fact that they have a formula that’s especially made for horses.
Because of the size of horses, they will require much more medication than a dog or a cat. This is a 120ml (4 oz) bottle which should last a few months.
HolistaPet will send you the proper dosage guidelines with their products.
Try These Pellets:
These horse pellets are a very healthy way to supply your horse with excellent nutrients as well as full spectrum CBD.
They’re very affordable and super easy to administer and dose.
Which CBD Product is Best for Horses? You know more about your horse than me. I’m sure she’s super active and can’t wait for you to take her out for a ride. But here’s the truth: