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.
Can CBD oil treat high cholesterol levels?
There are plenty of frequent ailments that will affect practically everyone eventually. From arthritis to aching knees, there are some things that are just a given when it comes to getting older.
Easily one of the most prevalent of this list is cholesterol. This irritating and sometimes severely painful condition affects millions each year, and there are remarkably few options for those looking to try and treat it.
Some people are attempting to combine CBD and cholesterol in an effort to try and diminish their continuous cholesterol plague. But does it work?
Well, first of all, we need to learn what cholesterol is and how we can typically treat it.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is commonly known as an evil, dangerous substance that ruins your life, no matter how much you have.
However, cholesterol is one of the most mischaracterized bodily substances that we know of today. Instead of being wholly terrible and dangerous, cholesterol is actually a vital part of our cells and health; without it, we wouldn’t be able to survive.
Cholesterol is used to help make all kinds of vital molecules in your bodies, such as your hormones and your ability to intake vitamins. It exists in all of your cells and is what enables them to function correctly.
While the precise cholesterol definition feels almost too confusing to understand, the actual function of cholesterol is far simpler.
Essentially, cholesterol is necessary for the production of so many things that your body needs to flourish. Furthermore, it helps to regulate membrane fluidity in different temperatures, something vitally important for healthy cell growth and maintenance.
The confusing aspect of cholesterol is that we treat it as having two different definitions based on its precise source. While cholesterol in the body is one thing, we treat dietary cholesterol as something entirely different.
Dietary cholesterol is the same thing in animals as it is in humans, except it matters to us because of how we digest it when we eat animals. It is necessary to eat a sufficient level of cholesterol to maintain health. But too much of it can put you in danger.
So, what are the exact causes of high cholesterol?
What Causes High Cholesterol?
To understand high cholesterol, we need to fully comprehend the different types of cholesterol.
Cholesterol is continuously flowing through your body by way of your blood cells. In your arteries, cholesterol attaches itself to proteins in the blood and gets transported to where it needs to be. This combination of the two is referred to as a lipoprotein, and they are further broken up into two distinct types of cholesterol.
Low-Density Lipoprotein: The first one, low-density lipoprotein, also known as LDL, is the typically maligned form of cholesterol. This type of cholesterol can build up in your bloodstream, causing blockages and reducing sufficient blood flow.
High-Density Lipoprotein: The other type, high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as the generally healthy one. This form of cholesterol can help reduce your levels of LDLs and take them back to your liver.
VLDL: Finally, diabetes increases the production of an even more dangerous form of cholesterol known as VLDL, which can cause even higher risks of developing high cholesterol.
Getting older, being a diabetic, or smoking are also other everyday things that can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol. Smoking damages your blood vessels, and age makes your body less efficient at cutting down the levels of bad cholesterol.
The precise risk factors of having high cholesterol are primarily due to a few things; diet and a lack of exercise.
If you eat a diet that is particularly high in saturated and trans fats, then you are likely to suffer from a higher than acceptable level of cholesterol. Furthermore, being obese or weighing more than you should, in general, will also put you at risk of developing high cholesterol.
Exercise is an incredibly important aspect of keeping down cholesterol, as exercise helps encourage the production and retention of HDL, the generally good cholesterol.
What Is the Primary Source of Cholesterol?
So, this is where a good deal of the confusion regarding cholesterol comes in. All of the cholesterol that you actually need in your body is created in the liver. Any extra cholesterol floating around comes from the food you eat, such as fatty foods.
This latter form of cholesterol is referred to as dietary cholesterol, and it is the main thing you need to watch out for.
So what can kind of exciting things can you do to try and reduce your cholesterol? Can you use CBD to try and reduce it?
Does CBD Lower Cholesterol?
CBD oil is one of those things that has been used to treat all kinds of different and exciting medical conditions. But cholesterol is easily one of the oldest problems considered by cannabinoid users. There is a substantial amount of evidence showing that CBD oil could help reduce cholesterol and overall improve your heart health.
Various studies, such as this one by Stanley et al. for the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, have found that CBD oil and cholesterol go together exceptionally well. That is, CBD is able to help improve your heart health and overall help treats high cholesterol.
Interestingly though, the answer to the question of ‘can CBD oil lower cholesterol?’ is, oddly enough, no. It isn’t that it can lower your cholesterol, but instead that it can help improve your heart health in general. This has the side effect of effectively lowering your cholesterol and improving your overall health.
But first, what kind of treatment options are available before considering CBD oil? How do doctors traditionally treat cholesterol with conventional medicine?
The two options for cholesterol treatment are either to attempt to try and remove excess LDL cholesterol through medication or to try and improve general heart health.
Different drugs perform these effects in different ways; it all depends on the severity of cholesterol and what level of risk your high cholesterol presents.
Considered the mandatory drug for everyone over the age of 50, statins are an effective way of controlling your cholesterol production. They substantially slow down the production of cholesterol in your liver. They also actually help your body to reabsorb any extra cholesterol that is hanging around in your body.
This means that it not only acts as an effective treatment option, but it can also partially reverse any severe heart afflictions you are suffering from.
The issue is that there are some side effects with taking statins, as well as just generally being annoying because you have to take them every single day.
Bile Acid Binding Resins
This treatment option is a bit of a tricky one because it seeks to lower cholesterol production indirectly. One of the primary uses of cholesterol is in making something called bile acids, which are needed to help encourage healthy digestion.
This group of medications, called bile acid-binding resins, bind themselves to bile acids in your body, tricking your liver into thinking you don’t have enough of them. This forces your liver to reroute excess cholesterol into trying to make them, forcing the cholesterol out of your blood and using it up.
This can, of course, induce digestion troubles, but that is far and away preferable compared to suffering from coronary heart disease.
Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors
One of the main ways that dietary cholesterol enters your body is through the small intestine, where it absorbs plenty of it from your food. This group of drugs slows down the rate at which your small intestine can absorb cholesterol from your food.
The main benefit of these substances is that they are combined with other drugs, like statins, to attempt to try and create a combined effect. On their own, they don’t reverse anything. But merely act as a stopgap to limit the results for the future.
Injectable medications are a broad category, but fundamentally, they are focused on lowering the amount of cholesterol that is free in your blood.
These are ideally used for genetic conditions, such as those with diseases that create adverse levels of cholesterol. They effectively encourage your liver to absorb and remove more LDL than it would normally.
This requires frequent injections and continuous medical checkups to ensure they are working correctly, which can be a real pain.
But what about CBD oil? How could CBD oil help cholesterol?
CBD Oil and Cholesterol
CBD oil is a particularly interesting medical substance because it has effects throughout the body. This is due to how it impacts the endocannabinoid system.
The critical thing regarding how CBD oil can help cholesterol is the fact that cholesterol is, fundamentally, a fatty cell. CBD has been shown to not only help regulate all manner of different bodily functions but also how much cholesterol is maintained in the body.
You can use CBD oil as a surprisingly effective cholesterol treatment option, just by remembering to take a dose every day.
However, the primary way that CBD and cholesterol work together is due to CBD’s vascular relaxant properties. When you take CBD, it is able to help reduce your blood pressure by relaxing the arterial walls running throughout your body.
This happens because as a result of CBD’s interaction with the CB1 receptor and is a great way to help reduce excess cholesterol. As the arterial walls relax, your blood pressure is reduced, and your heart doesn’t work as hard to pump blood around the body.
Consequently, this helps ease and reduce the level and intensity of cholesterol blockages, as your body has more time to get rid of them.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil and Cholesterol
When trying to answer the question of ‘can CBD oil lower cholesterol?’, the issue is that the answer isn’t quite as straightforward as you might have first thought.
CBD and cholesterol clearly have a well-established link to one another, but to outright say that CBD oil reduces cholesterol directly wouldn’t be entirely true. Instead, it is more the case that CBD oil can help to encourage the gradual lowering of your cholesterol levels. At the same time, it can help ease blood pressure and improve your overall health.
Both of these latter qualities are what make it so multipurpose and useful, as it is not only potentially effective as a treatment for cholesterol, but also for many other things.
The key thing to take away is that, while CBD can indeed help with excess cholesterol, it is not an emergency, completely fool proof curative. If you are suffering from serious cholesterol issues, the best thing you can do is go to your doctor and get it seen to.