Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol

Chronic health conditions such as skin diseases, heart disease, allergies, fibromyalgia, migraine, and sports injuries are typically characterized by inflammation and oxidative stress.

Cannabidiol or CBD has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers have found that CBD can be a safe and highly effective therapeutic agent in treating wide-ranging conditions that are associated with inflammatory and oxidative stress-related processes.

CBD-integrated products such as CBD oil, roll-on, pain relief spray, sleeping mask, eye serum, and anti-aging facial serum are popular because of their potent non-toxic, non-addictive, antioxidant, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

More about CBD’s origin

Across the world, certain types of flowering plants known as Cannabis have been traditionally cultivated for their recreational, spiritual, and medicinal properties. The term ‘Cannabis’ denotes a genus of plants under the family of ‘Cannabaceae’ –  a group of plants that includes both flowering and nonflowering plants. The family of Cannabaceae comprises eleven genera, which further includes about 170 different species of plants.

Out of the eleven genera, the Cannabis genus is said to include three species of plants, namely Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis.

Cannabis Indica is generally thought to belong to the Cannabis genus and is cultivated for different purposes. The fibers of this plant can be used to make cloth. Cannabis Indica also produces significant amounts of a compound called THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC induces intoxicating and euphoric effects, which has led to its recreational use in many parts of the world. The annual plant is native to South Asia.

Cannabis Ruderalis, on the other hand, contains low amounts of THC and is native to Eastern and Central Europe, as well as Russia. Because of its low THC content, Cannabis Ruderalis is commonly cultivated only for hemp production.

Cannabis Sativa also has its origins in Eastern and Southern Asia but is cultivated across the world owing to its medicinal properties. It is a flowering plant that is herbaceous and annual in nature. Throughout history, Cannabis Sativa has been cultivated to derive seed oil, industrial fiber, recreation, food, and medicine.

The Sativa species was classified in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus with Sativa, meaning plants that are cultivated.

Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa differ from each other in terms of their height, leaf size, plant structure, flowering time, size of buds, odor, and stature.

While Indica species tend to be bushier and shorter as compared to Sativa species, they also have shorter and wider leaves. Sativa plants have thin and long leaves. Indica has higher THC levels in relation to cannabidiol, while Sativa has more cannabidiol and lower THC levels.

CBD is the abbreviated form of Cannabidiol derived from the entire Cannabis Sativa plant. Varieties of Sativa plants are grown exclusively for their CBD content and have very less or zero amounts of THC. CBD has no psychoactive or toxic properties and has drawn the attention of scientists, medical fraternity, and researchers for its potential therapeutic properties.

The cannabis plants contain approximately 400 different compounds, out of which about 66 to 100 are categorized as cannabinoids that are exclusively found in Cannabis Sativa plants. While THC is one of the cannabinoids, CBD is another cannabinoid of significant commercial and medicinal importance.

CBD is extracted using solvent extraction or CO2 extraction methods and is purified as isolate or distillate. Usually prepared in the powder form, it is then mixed with therapeutic essential oils, including coconut, olive, avocado, or almond oils, to make topical preparations.

CBD topical products, such as facial cream, sleeping mask, roll-on, eye serum, recovery lotion, and body oil, are on the path to becoming the preferred therapeutic agents to treat pain, acne, wrinkles, inflammation, skin allergies, and other chronic health conditions.

A Harvard Medical School study indicates cannabidiol or CBD is effective in treating medication-resistant childhood epilepsy forms, including Dravet and Lennox-Gaustaut.

CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects

Injury, allergies, infection, and some auto-immune conditions are characterized by internal inflammation. Inflammation is a necessary and important immune response in the body that prompts the immune system to begin the process of removing the main cause of this inflammation. While acute inflammation can be short-lived, it can, at times, continue over the long-term that impacts the quality of life.

External inflammation causes many symptoms, including pain, swelling, redness, stiffness of joints, and soreness. These types of inflammation are sub-acute and are short-lived.

Internal inflammation of chronic nature can lead to and is caused by chronic health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, psoriasis, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, lung diseases such as asthma, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

CBD and anti-inflammatory effect

Inflammation, while being a natural response to infection and injuries, is a result of the release of pro-inflammatory substances, such as cytokines. Cytokines are signaling proteins specifically released in response to infection or injury by immune cells.

Cytokines, while initiating inflammation, are also capable of ending it. Researchers have found that cannabinoids such as CBD can control inflammation by regulating cytokine production.

A 2018 study found cannabinoids exert anti-inflammatory effects by altering immune system responses.

Plant-derived cannabinoids, particularly CBD, resemble the natural cannabinoids in the human body, called endocannabinoids. Two forms of endocannabinoids have been discovered in the human body- AEA (anandamide) and 2-AG or 2-arachidonoylglyerol. These help in the normal and smooth functions of the body, including sleep, digestion, energy production, fertility, and others.

The endocannabinoids bind to two types of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) that are distributed across the cells of the body, including the brain, gastrointestinal tissues, and immune cells.

Lack of these receptors or a deficiency of natural endocannabinoids has been implicated as causative factors for multiple disease conditions, including heart disease or migraine. A review examined multiple studies conducted over ten years and found that this theory explained the process in which some people developed inflammatory health conditions such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, and migraine

Scientists suggest CBD indirectly influences cannabinoid receptors to regulate inflammation. Researchers propose that CBD activates other brain receptors such as serotonin 1A receptor, vanilloid receptor, and adenosine A2A receptor to control inflammation.

Heart health: Inflammation is the primary causative factor in cardiovascular disease progression. A study conducted in 2017 called CANTOS study (Canakinumab Anti-inflammatory Thrombosis Outcomes Study) found that patients who suffered heart attacks had high levels of inflammatory markers, such as CRP (C-reactive protein). The researchers also found that treating them with anti-inflammatory agents reduced their chances of having a second stroke or heart attack.

Preclinical studies show that CBD exerts heart health benefits. The natural derivative has the ability to reduce inflammation within the heart’s arteries, which enhances its therapeutic potential to treat many heart-related conditions such as myocarditis. Inflammatory conditions in the heart, if not treated in time, can lead to brain damage and stroke.

Another factor that contributes to inflammation and heart disease is hypertension or high blood pressure levels. A 2017 crossover study showed that a single dose administration of CBD reduced blood pressure in participants. The chronic inflammatory changes in the arteries of the heart are also brought about in uncontrolled diabetes marked by high levels of glucose in the blood.

CBD has been shown to reduce these pro-inflammatory changes in the arterial cells due to high blood glucose.

Asthma: This is a chronic allergic condition that has been categorized as a complex inflammatory disorder marked by high levels of pro-inflammatory markers, including interleukins (IL-5, IL-2, IL-13, and IL-4) and serum IgE. CBD has the therapeutic ability to treat allergic asthma by reducing pro-inflammatory markers.

Cancer: Inflammation is also deemed to be the causative factor behind the progression and mortality rates of certain cancers. Research indicates that about 20% of deaths in cancer cases are associated with inflammatory processes. Inflammatory mediators such as cytokines are present in cancerous tumors and regulate tumor growth, the formation of new blood vessels, and metastasis.

CBD has been shown to have an antitumor effect because of its anti-inflammatory and prevention of angiogenesis effect.

Skin conditions: Many skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, acne, and dermatitis are linked to inflammatory processes. Palmieri et al found that CBD-integrated cream was effective in eliminating inflammation and scars linked to chronic skin conditions.

A retrospective study conducted in 2019 involved participants who had inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Topical CBD product was applied to the skin areas affected twice a day for three months. After three months, researchers found that CBD-enriched ointment was effective in improving all the symptoms and parameters of these conditions. They surmised that CBD could be a potent, safe, effective, and non-invasive treatment alternative for inflammatory skin diseases.

 Antioxidant properties of CBD

CBD has been extensively studied for its potent antioxidant properties. Reactive oxygen species or free radicals are released in the body during metabolic processes that release energy in the cells. Free radicals are also generated due to environmental pollution, toxic metals, cigarette smoke, bad diet, and certain diseases. These free radicals are unstable singlets of oxygen that try to gain stability by stealing electrons from other healthy cells. When they steal an electron from other cells, the cells generate more free radicals that are unstable electrons, thereby setting up a chain of destruction. This process not only causes chronic inflammation but is linked to many diseases such as heart disease, premature aging, cancers, diabetes, and arthritis.

CBD fights free radicals by acting as an antioxidant. In an animal study, researchers administered various doses of topical CBD (0.6 milligrams, 6.2 mg, 3.1 milligrams, and 62.3 milligrams) on rats that had joint pain. Both pain and joint inflammation were reduced after four days of CBD application.

Various studies indicate that CBD’s antioxidant properties are 30 to 50% stronger than the antioxidant effect shown by the most powerful antioxidants vitamin E and C. CBD has the ability to donate an electron and reverses damage caused by free radicals. In animal model studies, CBD has been found to enhance the effect of the natural antioxidant produced in the body called superoxide dismutase.

Researchers have also studied CBD’s role in promoting the production of melanin, a skin pigment present in epidermal layers. Melanin protects against free radical damage induced by excessive ultraviolet rays and environmental pollution. Studies show CBD stimulates melanin production (melanogenesis). CBD-integrated sleeping mask and facial cream are effective in addressing wrinkles and other signs of accelerated aging caused by environmental pollutants and sun damage.

Analysis of the antioxidant activity of CBD has shown that this natural plant derivative regulates the redox state both directly and indirectly. While CBD directly influences redox system components, it indirectly interacts with molecular targets linked to redox system components.

CBD modifies activity and levels of antioxidants and oxidants that enable it to modify redox system components directly. Like other plant-based antioxidants like vitamin C, CBD stops and controls chain reactions set up by free radicals, and by donating an electron, converts them into harmless, less active forms.

CBD has also been found to mitigate oxidative stress conditions. It does so by preventing superoxide radical formation during metabolic processes.

One of CBD’s indirect actions relates to the activation of the ECS system or endocannabinoid system. CBD has been found recently to modulate the activity of the endocannabinoid system by increasing the levels of AEA or anandamide. This, in turn, impacts cannabinoids signaling and the interaction they have with cannabinoid receptors. Studies show certain receptors that are activated by endocannabinoids influence antioxidant enzyme production directly.

Wide range of CBD-integrated topical products

CBD’s potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are the reasons why it is increasingly being used in the preparation of topical products such as anti-aging facial cream, sleeping mask, pain relief roll-on, body oil, and recovery lotion.

When choosing the right CBD integrated product, it is essential to pay attention to the amount of CBD the product contains, the dosage required to address skin, pain, or joint conditions as well as the ingredient information. High-quality CBD topical products contain between 100 to 300 milligrams of CBD isolate mixed with other therapeutic, well-established ingredients such as camphor, menthol, olive oil, essential oils, and herbs.

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