Aging And Cannabis: Is CBD Really The Fountain Of Youth?

Jessica McKeil November 5, 2018 0 comments

People who take CBD will often say they feel a renewed vigor and extra energy, but could CBD actually slow the aging process?

Humans’ search for the mythical “fountain of youth” began at the dawn of time. Records of this search date back as far as ancient Greek philosophers and the first explorers of the New World. Everyone wants to find the secret of eternal youth. Today, with all the hype around CBD, you’d be forgiven if you were wondering about cannabis and its effects on aging. Is cannabidiol (CBD) the miracle humanity has been waiting for all this time?

Don’t Believe Everything You Read About CBD

A quick search about CBD for health, and you’ll immediately see how skewed the marketing can get. As one blogger rewrites one blog into another, the science gets lost. By the end of the game of informational-telephone tag, the results from one small study of CBD in a petri dish has become the cure-all for cancer, wrinkles, and depression. The science around aging and cannabis has become equally exaggerated.

But that doesn’t mean the original science is fake. No, CBD isn’t the fountain of youth, but the early research says it’s a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective. With these properties, CBD may prove beneficial to reduce the signs of aging. Not a cure for aging by any stretch of the imagination, but another tool that the science so far suggests we could potentially use to prevent age related illnesses.

aging and cannabis represented by bottle of cbd oil next to cannabis bud

What Does the Research Really Say About Aging and Cannabis?

Thus far, most research demonstrates CBD has two key properties that indicate so called “anti-aging” effects: its antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory, effects.

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But, there haven’t been any legitimate, placebo-controlled studies on CBD-infused creams to prove the many claims out there.

Unfortunately, contrary to what you might read on many health and wellness blogs about CBD, there are no direct studies of CBD for aging. Until well-controlled studies on CBD for age-related disease and illness head to clinical trials, we can only extrapolate from the preliminary studies.

CBD as an Anti-Inflammatory

There is a large section of research on CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects. Consequently, inflammation is the root cause of many common diseases and illnesses, from asthma, to Parkinson’s Disease, to Arthritis. In a report on the subject published in 2012, Phillip Hunter states, “The growing realization that chronic inflammation is crucial in many diseases opens new avenues for treatment.”[1]Hunter P. (2012). The inflammation theory of disease. The growing realization that chronic inflammation is crucial in many diseases opens new avenues for treatment. EMBO reports, 13(11), 968–970. … Continue reading

And one of those new avenues for treatment may be cannabis, and cannabis-derived substances, like CBD. There are already many studies and clinical trials suggesting that CBD reduces inflammation. As one review from Molecules summarizes, there are both clinical and preclinical trials of CBD based formulations for inflammation. These human trials are looking at diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, and also more age-related conditions, like arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.[2]Bruni, N., Della Pepa, C., Oliaro-Bosso, S., Pessione, E., Gastaldi, D., & Dosio, F. (2018). Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), … Continue reading

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Arthritis Inflammation

Arthritis is an age-related disease affecting roughly fifty-five million Americans. It’s also one of the most common reasons why patients report using CBD. The basis of the clinical trials into CBD for arthritis comes from studies like “Transdermal Cannabidiol Reduces Inflammation and Pain-Related Behaviours in a Rat Model of Arthritis” published in 2018.[3]Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a … Continue reading

In this paper, the researchers applied transdermal CBD to animal models of arthritis. Later, over a four day treatment period, the researchers concluded “that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation without evident side-effects.”

CBD may protect the brain from inflammation. Many of the compounds found in cannabis, including CBD, have demonstrated a profound ability to protect the brain from age-related inflammation. Cannabidiol specifically is undergoing intense study for consumption as hypoxia-ischemia protection for Huntington’s Disease and Parkinson’s. In many cases, the acute administration of CBD seems to delay the onset of symptoms, and slow down their progression.

Inflammatory conditions increase as we age. If these studies on aging and cannabis pan out, there may be a place for CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties in the future of the treatment of dementia.

CBD as an Antioxidant

CBD is proven to have powerful antioxidative qualities, stronger than Vitamin A or Vitamin E. If you’ve taken a glance through the beauty product aisle, both Vitamin A and E often appear in anti-aging creams. One could easily assume CBD may eventually make an appearance here as well, given more research.

There have been several assessments thus far on the antioxidant qualities of CBD, from a Quantum Chemical protocol used in the Handbook of Cannabis and Related Pathologies, and a DFT Analysis in Molecules. These assessments have confirmed the highly antioxidative nature of this cannabinoid compound. [4]Preedy, V. R. (2017). Cannabidiol as an Antioxidant. In Handbook of cannabis and related pathologies: Biology, pharmacology, diagnosis, and treatment. London, United Kingdom: Elsevier/Academic Press. [5]Borges, R., Batista, J., Viana, R., Baetas, A., Orestes, E., Andrade, M., . . . Silva, A. D. (2013). Understanding the Molecular Aspects of Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol as Antioxidants. … Continue reading

But, why should we consider it important in the fight against aging? Chiefly, some researchers believe aging to be a fight against free-radicals. Free radicals cause cellular damage. Antioxidants put up a strong response to the damage caused by free radicals; however, as we age, this natural response slows down.

Antioxidant supplementation has a long history of treating age-related illnesses, including neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease. In “Effects of antioxidant supplementation on the aging process,” the authors found that antioxidant supplementation may help with the prevention of certain cancers, neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular disease. If CBD is a powerful antioxidant, then it could play a part in future treatments designed around the antioxidant theory of aging. [6]Fusco, D., Colloca, G., Lo Monaco, M. R., & Cesari, M. (2007). Effects of antioxidant supplementation on the aging process. Clinical interventions in aging, 2(3), 377–387.

aging and cannabis represented by friendly happy group of multicultural and multiethnic older adults

Aging and Cannabis, Looking Beyond CBD

When CBD combines with other cannabinoids, like THC, it may be even more powerful. Upon discovering it, researchers subsequently named this interaction the entourage effect. A recent study published in the Journal of Nature Medicine (2017) looked at aging and cannabis in mice. Consequently, the results were quite astounding. When these researchers supplied THC to mice throughout their short lifespan, they had measurably younger brains (as elderly mice) than their counterparts. [7]Villeda, S., & Fan, S. X. (2017). Faculty Opinions recommendation of A chronic low dose of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) restores cognitive function in old mice. Faculty Opinions – … Continue reading

The conclusions of the study showed that when supplied with THC, elderly mice had better social recognition, orientation, and biologically younger brains than the control group. Researchers discovered the brains of twelve-month-old mice dosed with low levels of THC looked remarkably like those of two-month-old mice.

This study adds further fuel to the growing interest in aging and cannabis. Moreover, it suggests that the whole plant, not just a single compound, may provide a multi-faceted, and targeted, approach to the symptoms of aging.

Is ‘CBD a Fountain of Youth’ Fake News?

We may never uncover a real “fountain of youth.” However, that doesn’t mean the research into the benefits of CBD oil is all for naught. Cannabis and its many cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids undoubtedly affect the human endocannabinoid system. When taken as one aspect of a more holistic health and wellness plan, CBD could ultimately become a powerful, all-natural supplement, to reduce the signs and symptoms of aging. With clinical trials, it could also play a part in fighting age-related illnesses.


Author avatar

Jessica McKeil

Jessica McKeil is a freelance writer focused on the medical marijuana industry, from production methods to medicinal applications. She is lucky enough to live in beautiful British Columbia, Canada where the cannabis industry is exploding. When not writing, she spends much of her time exploring in the coastal forests.

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