CBD Effects on Cholesterol: Can CBD Lower Cholesterol Levels?

cbd effects on cholesterol: cbd tincture on white counter

Posted on September 6th, 2020

High cholesterol is a common health issue that affects many individuals. Many people actually view the onset of high cholesterol as a natural part of aging. Meanwhile, doctors from all around the world actively push medications meant to lower the level of cholesterol in your body. However, the idea of natural remedies to help high cholesterol has gained interest over the years. In fact, many people are now wondering if the potential health benefits of CBD oil with exercise and diet can help lower their cholesterol levels in a natural way. But can the effects of CBD really impact cholesterol? Read on to learn more about what cholesterol is and how CBD might affect it. 

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is often seen as a substance that could ruin your health, regardless of how much you have. However, cholesterol is actually a natural part of a healthy human body. Even the healthiest person has cholesterol. It’s a key component of cells and without it, survival would be impossible. Cholesterol is used to make various types of molecules in your body, such as your hormones. It actually exists in all cells and allows them to function properly.

Although the precise definition of cholesterol might seem confusing to understand, its actual function is much simpler to grasp. Essentially, cholesterol is needed for the production of essential components in your body to stay healthy. Moreover, it helps with the regulation of membrane fluidity in different temperatures. This is vital for healthy cellular growth and maintenance.

Things get a bit more confusing when it comes to dietary cholesterol. The dietary cholesterol in humans is the same as with animals. If you eat too much cholesterol (usually from animal products), you risk increasing your cholesterol levels to dangerous amounts. 

What Are the Different Types of Cholesterol?

Before we get into the details, it’s important to understand the different kinds of cholesterol. Keep in mind that cholesterol is always flowing through your body continuously through your blood cells. In the arteries, it attaches to proteins in the blood and gets transported wherever it’s needed. This combination is commonly referred to as lipoprotein, which can be further broken down into two main types of cholesterol.

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)

This is usually the maligned form of cholesterol. It can build up in the bloodstream, which could lead to blockages and even reduce blood flow.

High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)

This is generally known as the healthy form of cholesterol, which can actually help to lower your levels of LDLs and take them back to your liver.

VLDL

This is an even more dangerous form of cholesterol usually caused by diabetes. It creates an even higher risk of developing high cholesterol in the body.

Factors such as being a diabetic, getting older, and smoking could all increase your risk of developing high cholesterol. Age makes your body less efficient at cutting down cholesterol levels while smoking damages your blood vessels. However, the precise risk factors of having high cholesterol are primarily due to two key things: diet and lack of exercise. 

physician prescribing statins for high cholesterolSome Worrying Facts About Cholesterol

Based on data from the CDC, about 38% of Americans are living with high cholesterol, which is a condition that potentially doubles the risk of developing different cardiovascular diseases. Even perhaps more worrying, only 55% of adults who need medicine as treatment for this condition are using it. One key problem with diagnosing or detecting high cholesterol is that it’s virtually symptomless – you could have the condition without even realizing it.

When a doctor diagnoses you with elevated cholesterol levels, they will likely recommend medication referred to as a statin. Statins may be able to lower the risk of developing conditions like stroke and heart attack by over 30%.

However, most prescription statins come with adverse side effects. For instance, patients with elevated cholesterol levels may experience migraines, dizziness, drowsiness, trouble sleeping, gastrointestinal issues, nausea, and more when they take statin medications. Statins also increase the risk of developing a loss of memory, neuropathy, and type-2 diabetes.

The Problem With Statins 

The first thing that a person struggling with high cholesterol will want to do first is to evaluate their lifestyle. They may want to consider including lean meats, fish, fruit, low-fat products, vegetables, and whole grains into their diet. And for smokers, health professionals would recommend quitting smoking altogether to help lower excess cholesterol levels.

As mentioned earlier, statins are the most commonly prescribed medication for lowering cholesterol. Statins work by inhibiting an enzyme that the liver usually needs to produce LDL cholesterol. They can also increase HDL levels slightly, which could help move “bad” cholesterol from the arteries to the liver.

Currently, there are millions of Americans on statins prescription. What’s more, many health experts suggest that millions more need to be on them. For instance, the American College of Cardiology recently issued a set of recommendations for statin, essentially suggesting that over 26 million Americans should be using them.

The problem with these recommendations is that according to these numbers, at least a third of people between the age of 40 and 75 with no prior history of cardiovascular problems should be on statin medication. However, statistics on the effectiveness of statins on cholesterol levels vary, and some experts suggest using cholesterol calculating tools such as the Framingham Calculator to help with estimating personal cardiovascular risks. 

Another realistic concern with the use of statin is the wide range of adverse side effects that they tend to produce. Statins are known to cause things like rhabdomyolysis (a disorder that causes damage to muscle cells) and liver damage. Additional concerns include a higher risk of developing memory problems, type 2 diabetes, and blood sugar. This is a lot of risk for a drug that might not be helpful in the long run.

CBD and Cholesterol

Considering the popularity of CBD in recent years, it’s potential for lowering high cholesterol often comes up. Some research and anecdotal evidence have demonstrated that CBD does have some potential health benefits, though research is still in its early stages. 

However, over the counter CBD products are currently not regulated by the FDA. The only condition CBD has been approved to treat is a rare form of epilepsy, and that is with the CBD based medication Epidiolex. So, is there any research that suggests that CBD has an effect on cholesterol levels?

hand holding cbd dropperWhat Does Research Say About CBD Effects on Cholesterol?

Cannabidiol is one of the products that has been looked at for its potential to help many different medical conditions. Cholesterol is one of the oldest problems that are considered by cannabinoid users. And some research suggests that CBD oil could be helpful in reducing cholesterol and help improve your overall cardiovascular health.

Various studies suggest that CBD and cholesterol may go together exceptionally well. According to one study, CBD may help to improve cardiovascular health, which in turn may help improve high cholesterol levels.

However, this study focuses on CBD in relation to cardiovascular health. Currently, there is no clinical evidence that shows the use of CBD could lower cholesterol levels. As such, we do not recommend or suggest that CBD should or can function in place of statins, or in place of a lifestyle change.

With that in mind, while CBD might not directly lower your cholesterol, it could help improve your cardiovascular health in general. The side effect of this may be impacting your cholesterol and improving your overall health.

Another study discusses the potential relationship between the use of cannabidiol and cholesterol metabolism-related genes. The study was published in the 2011 edition of Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology and suggested that CBD use may help modulate cholesterol homeostasis in microglial cells. However, while these findings are intriguing, the results have no clinical bearings on the use of CBD for managing cholesterol levels.

In a separate study conducted in 2017 and published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, the effect of using CBD for cholesterol is discussed. The study showed that CBD increased the levels of cholesterol in wild-type mice, but not in CBD treated laboratory-bred (transgenic) mice. According to the study, the lack of an effect on cholesterol in the transgenic mice was probably due to the already higher levels of cholesterol in transgenic mice. 

The researchers address the potential benefits of CBD on hyperglycemia. It was observed that following a 4-week CBD use in obese mice at a rate of 3mg per kg of body weight, the HDL-C concentration increased by 55% and lower the total cholesterol levels by over 25%.

Still, while the findings are quite interesting, the study has no bearing on the practical use of CBD in helping lower CBD levels in humans. Although there might be a physiological link between the two, more research is needed.

Bottom Line 

There’s no conclusive clinical evidence that the effects of CBD can help lower cholesterol levels. Many full-spectrum CBD oils contain healthy omega acids. And they could help lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. However, this doesn’t show that CBD has a definite connection with cholesterol levels.

Keep in mind that research on CBD is still in its infancy. There might be extra physiological characteristics of CBD related to cholesterol and the cardiovascular system, but as of now, not much is known about the topic. As research on CBD improves, we’ll likely see some exciting developments in the future.

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