How Does CBD Affect Cholesterol?

The future looks bright for CBD, as an increasing number of research studies explore CBD’s effectiveness for a variety of health conditions. Current research is showing that taking CBD could be a way to help lower cholesterol.

Having high cholesterol is a worrisome condition, for several reasons. First, research shows that having high cholesterol can double the risk of developing heart disease, the #1 cause of death in the U.S. Second, high cholesterol is symptomless, so many people may have the condition and not know it. And third, the most common medications prescribed for high cholesterol, statins, can cause several serious side effects.

What is Cholesterol?

We often hear about cholesterol in a negative context: if our cholesterol is “high”, we need to lower it. However, cholesterol is actually essential to the proper functioning of our bodies. All of our cells naturally contain cholesterol, which aids in the digestion process and helps to create hormones and vitamin D.

Problems occur when our cholesterol levels become imbalanced. There are two types of cholesterol, LDL and HDL. HDL is considered the “good” form, and will remove deposits of LDL, the “bad” form. When a person’s levels of LDL increase significantly, the HDL cholesterol can’t remove it all. Instead, the LDL builds up inside blood vessels, narrowing and clogging arteries. If enough LDL builds up, arteries become blocked, preventing blood from reaching our vital organs, and causing heart attack or stroke.

Diet is a major factor in regulating cholesterol levels. Eating too many foods high in saturated fats introduces more LDL into your body than it needs to function. Being overweight and not getting enough exercise also contribute to high LDL levels.

What are Statins?

Statins are commonly prescribed for patients with high levels of LDL cholesterol. Our bodies produce about 80% of the cholesterol that we need. Much of that is produced in the liver. A statin works by blocking the liver from producing cholesterol. These drugs can also lower triglycerides, fat molecules in the blood, and raise levels of HDL cholesterol, to further remove LDL from the body. While some scientists question the true effectiveness of statins,  a major issue with them are the side effects, which can include:

  • Liver damage
  • Muscle pain and damage
  • Increased blood sugar levels, which also increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Memory loss and confusion

And, several other medications can interact with statins to increase the risk of side effects occurring.

Determining whether or not a statin is the right medication for your health situation is a discussion for you and your doctor. What is certain is that high cholesterol is a very serious problem in the U.S., with just over 1/3 of adults in this country diagnosed with high levels of LDL.

Why Might CBD Help High Cholesterol?

As is true for many other medical conditions, the effectiveness of CBD for treating high cholesterol hasn’t been studied extensively. That trend is changing as more and more people provide anecdotal reports of CBD helping relieve various conditions, and laws are opening up greater freedoms to study the compound.

Bowl of hemp seeds

Both CBD and hemp seeds are high in omegas.

A study published in 2014 found that a diet supplemented with omega 6 fatty acids helped to regulate cholesterol levels. CBD is high in both omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids, making it a natural way to increase your consumption of them. Omegas also help to speed up the metabolism, helping to remove excess fat from the body.

In 2011, a scientific journal called “Molecules and Cells” published a study which showed that CBD oil could limit the body’s ability to absorb dietary cholesterol. Other studies, which looked at CBD’s relationship to the heart, found that the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and calming properties of CBD could reduce inflammation and cell death associated with heart disease.

While CBD can interact with certain other medications, its reported side effects are minimal. These include occasional fatigue, and an upset stomach if large amounts of CBD oil are consumed.

Resolving high cholesterol often means making lifestyle changes, including an altered diet and increased exercise routine. While CBD is not a miracle cure for high cholesterol in and of itself, it shows promise for improved health when combined with these lifestyle changes.

As an organic compound that works directly with our body to balance our systems, there is much potential for CBD to support renewed balance for many processes throughout the body. We are eager to see what current research studies will uncover about the efficacy of CBD!

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