In this article, we look at what cholesterol is, the problems associated with statins, and research which on CBD for high cholesterol. CBD Vs Statins To Control Cholesterol While statins may lower your LDL cholesterol numbers, some researchers believe it does nothing to protect users from heart attacks or strokes. They also have
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.
CBD Vs Statins To Control Cholesterol
While statins may lower your LDL cholesterol numbers, some researchers believe it does nothing to protect users from heart attacks or strokes. They also have many adverse side effects which may lead to long-term problems in the future. Studies suggest that CBD may lower blood cholesterol levels and remove plaque. In this article, I will discuss how statins work, list their adverse side effects, and explain the importance of cholesterol. I will cite studies that support the potential replacement of statins with CBD as well as further studies about possible CBD-statin interactions.
What Are Statins?
Statins are a class of drugs that reduce the blood lipid levels by changing the activity of the liver enzymes in their production.
Statins Side Effects
- May cause muscle damage
- May cause neurological problems
- May increase blood sugar levels
- May cause liver damage
The Importance of Cholesterol
Some people view cholesterol as bad. But, a substantial amount of cholesterol, a waxy fatty acid found in human cells, is required by the body to carry out essential functions. These include the production of hormones, vitamin D, digestive bile, and the maintenance of many brain functions. HDL is the good cholesterol and LDL is the harmful cholesterol.
The human body stores cholesterol for future use, but when there is an excess of cholesterol, it gets stored in the arteries. The HDL is used for necessary bodily functions, but the LDL turns into plaque in the arteries. Plaque buildup is what leads to heart disease and strokes. However, statins do not actually remove plaque. They simply block the cholesterol producing enzyme, HMG, which reduces the total amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. This forces the body to reabsorb the cholesterol from the arteries.
Many studies suggest that an increase in HDL and a decrease in LDL may lead to a decrease in cardiovascular mortality. Some of the more recent studies suggest that there is no correlation between a higher LDL cholesterol number and the development of cardiovascular disease.
Can CBD Effectively Replace Statins?
While CBD is known for many therapeutic effects, there are few studies suggesting its impact on the removal of plaque and the reduction of LDL. Here are a few that do support this hypothesis:
- Hector Lopez led a study, published in May 2020 in the Journal of Dietary Supplements, that suggested that CBD may increase HDL levels through its impact on specific brain receptors.
- A 2016 study, published in Diabetes Care, indicated that CBD may regulate the production of insulin and metabolism of sugar and increase the capacity to process unhealthy fats. This process was seen to lower the LDL levels in overweight, but otherwise healthy individuals, within six weeks, even with a normal diet.
- A 2013 study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, showed that CBD oil may indirectly regulate blood cholesterol content and reduce cardiovascular disease risk by minimizing the stress response by the cardiovascular system.
While there is still no agreement by researchers on the effect that CBD has on the heart, here are some studies promoting the supposition that CBD may have cardi-protective properties:
- A 2010 study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, suggests that CBD may prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases in diabetic patients.
- A 2020 study, published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements, demonstrated that CBD may regulate the immune system and provide cardiovascular protection through its indirect activation of CB2 receptors by way of the 5-HT3A brain receptor.
- A 2019 paper, published in the Recent Advances in Cannabinoid Physiology and Pathology, makes the case that there is a close link between the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and its impact on cardiovascular diseases. CBD may act as a vasorelaxant, which allows more blood to flow through blood vessels. This reduces the stress on the heart.
Scientists are unclear on how CBD interacts with statins. Studies indicate that CBD inhibits several of the liver enzymes which are necessary for breaking down statins. The outcome may be an increase in the concentration of statins in the bloodstream approaching toxic levels. With long-term use, this could mean a risk to a patient’s health including more adverse side effects.
Here is what we know:
- Statins are metabolized by the liver’s Cytochrome P450 group of liver isoenzymes; CYP3A4, CYP3A5, CYP2C9, and CYP2C19
- Studies indicate that CBD inhibits these enzymes
- Long-term use of CBD can interfere with the normal functioning of these enzymes, thus lowering the blood statin clearance rate
- This causes higher concentrations of statins remaining in the bloodstream, leading to an increase in the severity of side effects
- While there is no conclusive evidence that combining CBD with statins is harmful, the aforementioned information suggests that it poses a possible health risk.
Here are a few publications which show the impact of combining CBD with statins:
- The March 2020 edition of the Pharmacist’s Guide to CBD Oil, suggested that CBD has the potential to reduce the effectiveness of statins by inhibiting the CYP3A4 liver enzyme.
- A 2020 study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that certain other medications may cause an increase or decrease of CBD which may affect its impact on other drugs.
Anecdotal evidence shows significant interactions of the two medications only in rare cases of long-term usage and high doses of both. Clearly, if you notice any drug interactions, consult your physician.
Pharmacologists Waiting for Patent on a Cannabinoid-Statin Medication
Colorado-based pharmacology inventors, James Smeeding and Mathew Sherwood, of Indication BioScience, have developed a medication combining a cannabinoid with a statin and are awaiting patent approval.
Their findings indicate that the use of cannabinoids may increase the efficiency of the ECS. The fact that they have developed this medication suggests that their risk/benefit assessment of a potential interaction must be quite a low risk. However, in order to satisfy the FDA, it seems reasonable to conclude that more human clinical trials will be required.
Let us hope that the use of cannabinoids plays a major role in the future of cardiovascular therapies or at the very least, may be used to relieve some of the symptoms of cardiovascular diseases.
thecannabisradar.com, CBD & Statins: Can CBD Replace Statins as Cholesterol Medication?