It is certainly clear that our most pervasive chronic conditions share a common feature in terms of their underlying cause. Whether we are talking about coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, or even Alzheimer’s disease, what current medical literature reveals is the powerful role that inflammation plays in these and other common conditions.
Ultimately, the main issue with higher levels of inflammation that manifests as damage to tissue is the fact that when inflammation has been turned on, it increases the production of damaging free radicals, a situation we call oxidative stress. When oxidative stress is running rampant, damage occurs to our proteins, and fat, and even our DNA.
Over the years there has been extensive research looking at how increasing the availability of antioxidants might help to protect our bodies against these damaging free radicals. But recognizing that the upstream instigator of this problem, to a significant degree, is inflammation, allows us to redirect our targeting in order to protect our body’s tissues.
I have written extensively about how reducing dietary sugar and carbohydrates, while at the same time increasing dietary consumption of good fats along with dietary fiber, goes a long way towards reducing inflammation. Emerging research now demonstrates that cannabidiol (CBD) has significant potential in terms of limiting inflammation and downstream effects in terms of free radicals as well.
In research published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, scientists at the University of Mississippi medical center described not only the complexities and challenges posed by trying to specifically target oxidative stress in a variety of disease states, but also the potential benefits of using CBD to accomplish this goal.
Unlike THC, the chemical in marijuana responsible for the “high,” CBD is a non-psychotropic derivative of the plant. It was first isolated 1940 and ultimately chemically characterized in 1963. Recently, research has demonstrated that CBD has wide ranging activity in terms of reducing inflammation and the damaging effects of free radicals. Specifically, CBD modulates the function of the immune system. Research would indicate that overall, the effects of this modulation seem to be quite positive.
CBD, for example, has been demonstrated to be specifically effective in dealing with various types of pain. This activity is also thought to represent a manifestation of CBD working as an anti-inflammatory much as over the counter anti-inflammatory medications are used for typical aches and pains.
Further, many of the health-related issues associated with obesity are a consequence of increased inflammation. CBD is being explored extensively in relation to obesity in hopes of reducing some of these important health consequences.
In the conclusion of the research publication, the authors stated:
Inflammation and oxidative stress are intimately involved in the genesis of many human diseases. Unraveling that relationship therapeutically has proven challenging, in part because inflammation and oxidative stress “feed off” each other. However, CBD would seem to be a promising starting point for further drug development given its anti-oxidant (although relatively modest) and anti-inflammatory actions on immune cells…
The research in terms of medical application of CBD is expanding dramatically, and with good reason. As a natural, plant derived anti-inflammatory, CBD joins other familiar players in this arena like turmeric which is derived from curcumin, as well as ginger and many others.
Moving forward, you can be certain that CBD research will continue to expand, and likely validate it’s efficacy across a wide spectrum of health issues. As always, I’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest science here.
Dr. David Perlmutter, MD