Can CBD Oil Lower Cholesterol Levels? [Exploring the FACTS]
According to the CDC, about 37% of Americans are living with elevated cholesterol ; a condition that potentially doubles the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Worryingly, only 55% of adults who need medicine to treat this issue are using it. The problem with detecting high cholesterol is that it’s symptomless; you could have the condition without even realizing it.
If a doctor diagnoses you with high cholesterol, it’s likely they will recommend a medication known as a statin. Statins can help lower the risk of things like heart attack and stroke by over 30%.
However, there are a list of adverse side effects that come along with most prescription statins. For example, patients with high cholesterol that take statins may experience migraines, trouble sleeping, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and gastrointestinal issues, just to name a few. Statins can also increase the likelihood of developing neuropathy, loss of memory, and even type-2 diabetes.
CBD oil for lowering cholesterol; is there any merit to the discussion?
Given the popularity of CBD oil in recent years, the discussion of using CBD oil to lower cholesterol has been brought up. But is there any clinical proof of CBD having an effect on cholesterol levels?
In this article, we look at what cholesterol is and why you’re likely to have high cholesterol. We’ll also examine various problems associated with statins, and discuss relevant scientific research relating to cannabis, CBD, and cholesterol levels.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a lipid found in your body’s cells. Though it generally has a negative connotation given its link to heart disease, cholesterol is actually essential and serves many important functions. It influences the creation of hormones, the synthesis of vitamin D, and helps to digest food correctly.
Cholesterol categorizes into two types: Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL, aka ‘bad’ cholesterol), and High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL, aka ‘good’ cholesterol).
HDL helps remove LDL deposits and limits the buildup of plaque that leads to things like heart attack and stroke. If LDL levels are too high, plaque accumulation inside blood vessels can cause arteries to harden and become narrower. Plaque buildup can cause arteries to become fully blocked. A blocked artery prevents blood from reaching vital organs and tissues. The result is a heart attack or stroke.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
Typically, your cholesterol level increases with age. There are a number of lifestyle choices that contribute to increased LDL cholesterol levels, such as smoking, being overweight, and eating too many saturated fats. Dietary culprits that typically lead to high cholesterol are dairy items, processed foods, and fatty red meats. A lack of physical activity can also negatively impact cholesterol levels. This is why many health experts suggest a minimum of 20 minutes of physical activity a day.
The Problem with Statins
The first thing any person with high cholesterol levels might want to do is take a long, hard look at their lifestyle. They may want to incorporate fish, lean meats, low-fat products, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains into their diet. As for smokers, most any health professional would recommend quitting in order to lower excessive cholesterol levels.
In terms of medication for lowering cholesterol, it is common for physicians to prescribe statins. Statins inhibit an enzyme that the liver needs to produce LDL cholesterol. They also slightly increase HDL levels, which can move ‘bad’ cholesterol from the arteries to the liver.
Millions of Americans are currently using statins, and health experts suggest that millions more need to be using them. For example, the American College of Cardiology issued a set of recommendations for statins suggesting over 26 million Americans should be using them.
There’s a problem with these recommendations…
According to these numbers, at least one-third of people aged 40-75 with no history of cardiovascular problems should be on statin medication. Since statistics on the effectiveness of statins vary, however, Dr. Rita Redberg of the University of California in San Francisco suggests using cholesterol calculating tools – like the Framingham Calculator – to estimate personal cardiovascular risk.
Also, a realistic concern with statin use is the range of adverse side effects that they produce. Statins can cause things like liver damage and rhabdomyolysis – a condition that damages muscle cells. Further concerns include an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, increased blood sugar, and memory problems. That’s a lot of risk for a drug that may not help you in the long run.
Is CBD a Better Alternative for Lowering Cholesterol?
To put it bluntly, there is no clinical evidence on the use of CBD to lower cholesterol levels. No one should suggest or recommend that CBD can function in place of statins, or even in place of a lifestyle change.
That said, one study does discuss a potential relationship between cannabidiol use and “cholesterol metabolism-related genes.” The study , which appears in a 2011 edition of Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, suggests that “CBD treatment modulates cholesterol homeostasis in microglial cells.”
Does this mean you can use CBD to help lower your cholesterol?
Not quite. While the findings of this particular study are intriguing, the results have no clinical bearing on the use of CBD for cholesterol level management.
A separate 2017 study in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research also discusses the effect of CBD use on cholesterol. The study claims that CBD “increased cholesterol levels in WT [wild-type] mice, but not in CBD-treated transgenic [laboratory-bred] mice.” Researchers state that the lack of effect on cholesterol in the transgenic mice was likely due to “already-elevated cholesterol [levels] in the transgenic mice.”
Interestingly, later in the study researchers discuss the potential benefits of cannabidiol on hyperglycemia. In obese mice, it was observed that a four-week CBD treatment of 3 mg per kg of body weight “increased HDL-C concentration by 55% and reduced total cholesterol levels by more than 25%.”
Again, although this research is very interesting, it has no bearing on the practical use of CBD oil for lowering cholesterol levels. While there may indeed be a physiological relationship between the two, more research is needed.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Reducing LDL Cholesterol
All in all, there is no explicit clinical evidence that CBD oil (or any other CBD product) can help reduce cholesterol levels. Many full-spectrum CBD oils contain healthy omega acids, which may help reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease. Again, however, this does not denote that CBD has any specific relationship with blood cholesterol levels.
Remember, however, that research into CBD is still very much in its infancy. There may be additional physiological properties of CBD that relate to cardiovascular health, but for now, little is known on the topic. As research improves, we are likely to witness some exciting discoveries in the future.
In this article, we look at what cholesterol is, the problems associated with statins, and research which on CBD for high cholesterol.
Hempseed oil has healthy potential: study
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – With an ideal ratio of omega-6 and -3 fatty acids and some plant chemicals thought to lower high blood pressure, hempseed oil has potential as part of a heart-healthy diet, according to Spanish researchers.
They analyzed the makeup of oil extracted from Cannabis sativa, often called industrial hemp, which is a cousin of marijuana but with very low levels of the chemical in pot that provides a high.
“This is an interesting study that gives new information on the bioactive compounds found in hempseed that may potentially lower blood cholesterol levels and have an anti-atherogenic action,” Grant Pierce told Reuters Health in an email.
Pierce is executive director of research at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He was not involved in the new study.
“C. sativa L., an annual herbaceous plant, is known by its long, thin flowers and spiky leaves. The plant is considered to be native of western and central Asia and has also been cultivated commercially in Europe and in parts of China, Japan, Canada, and the United States,” write Maria Angeles Fernández-Arche, a pharmacology researcher at the University of Seville, and her colleagues.
In addition to a 3,000-year track record in the manufacture of cloth and paper, hemp has long history as a food and folk medicine, they point out in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Hempseed is known to have high levels of vitamins A, C and E, minerals and fiber, the researchers say. But they wanted to analyze hempseed oil to better understand its potential for modern food and medicine.
Hempseed oil has a very interesting polyunsaturated fatty acid composition, Fernández-Arche told Reuters Health in an email, because it has an optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of about 3 to 1.
Her main area of research is natural products and the bioactive compounds they contain.
The researchers examined the fatty acid profile of hempseed oil and found that polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) made up about 75 percent of the oil. PUFAs include omega-6 and omega-3, the fatty acids found in some meats as well as flax and fish oils.
The high amounts of one omega-3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid, “may have favorable nutritional implications and beneficial physiological effects on the prevention of coronary heart disease and cancer,” the authors write.
Saturated fats and monounsaturated fatty acids each amounted to about 12 percent of the oil.
A high ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fats has been linked to reductions in cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis, so the proportions seen in hemp oil have the potential to help prevent heart disease, the researchers write.
They also detected plant chemicals, such as beta-sitosterol and campesterol, which have been linked to lower heart attack risk, and reduced LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). Sterols may also lower inflammation and slow the progression of atherosclerosis, the team notes.
This study doesn’t prove that hempseed oil has any clinical benefits yet – that will take additional research with human subjects, they point out.
Fernández-Arche said, however, that her team is studying “the effect of the intake of this oil and this effect on the stress induced in animals, and the preliminary results are very promising.”
Pierce, who has studied the health effects of both flax and hemp seeds, says of hemp, “It has several potentially important bioactive compounds that could have beneficial cardiovascular effects. It is a very heart healthy seed and oil.”
He noted that hempseed oil contains less oleic acid than other heart-healthy oils, such as olive or canola oil, but added that studies on animals indicate hempseed might reduce the clotting of blood platelets that lead to heart attacks.
Pierce thinks flaxseed oil has more health benefits than hempseed oil. “In our animal experiments, flaxseed has shown more potent cardiovascular effects than hempseed,” he said.
“We have also shown significant blood pressure lowering effects of flaxseed in human trials,” he noted. (See Reuters Health article of November 1, 2013, here: reut.rs/1ofMCnA).
But to be fair, he added, hempseed has not had similar trials conducted in humans.
With an ideal ratio of omega-6 and -3 fatty acids and some plant chemicals thought to lower high blood pressure, hempseed oil has potential as part of a heart-healthy diet, according to Spanish researchers.