CBD may slow the process of aging in the brain, decreasing the risk of dementia and increasing lifespan, a new study says.
Published in GeroScience, a scientific journal that looks at the biology of aging, the study found that CBD may help maintain the health of neurons as we age by stimulating the process that clears away damaged cells.
Neurons, or nerve cells, are the building blocks of the brain and nervous system. This system is the mechanism through which we perceive and interact with the world around us — so any problems here can impact our cognitive function and overall health.
The process of clearing away damaged cells, autophagy (ah-tah-fuh-jee), also frees up cell components that the body uses to create new, healthy cells. Autophagy is what keeps the overall system fresh and functioning well.
‘Compromised autophagy is a hallmark of aging’
According to the study’s authors, the slowing of autophagy is a cell-level explanation for aging.
“Accumulating evidence suggests that suppression of autophagic activity is one of the signatures of aging,” the study’s authors wrote, also saying “compromised autophagy is a hallmark of aging.”
CBD has already been shown to increase lifespan in animals. But we didn’t know why. This research suggests that by inducing autophagy, CBD slows the aging of the nervous system and, in turn, extends natural lifespan.
The research included both in vitro “test tube” experiments and in vivo live organism studies — in this case worms. Researchers measured signs of autophagy in the worms, with groups receiving CBD treatment and a control group did not.
“Our findings provide evidence that CBD extends lifespan and modulates neuronal aging.”
— Authors of the study “Cannabidiol induces autophagy and improves neuronal health associated with SIRT1 mediated longevity”
Without any CBD treatment, the worms showed normal signs of slowing autophagy in nerve-ring neurons over the course of their short life span. Even a one-day CBD treatment increased signs of autophagy in nerve-ring neurons, demonstrating that neurons respond quickly to the treatment. A five-day CBD treatment significantly increased signs of autophagy in nerve-ring neurons, body-wall muscle, and pharynx compared with the control group.
“Our findings provide evidence that CBD extends lifespan and modulates neuronal aging,” the researchers wrote, noting that this is the first study to do so.
In short: CBD could help maintain brain health, keep us sharper for longer, and possibly extend lifespan. This makes it a promising candidate for future treatment of cognitive decline and dementia, although much more research will be needed as potential products are developed.
Cannabis and Other Health Treatments
Cannabis shows promise in treating several other health issues.
CBD-based medication is already being used to treat some forms of epilepsy.
The NFL is funding studies to see if CBD and THC could be used to help prevent brain damage caused by concussions, or speed recovery from injuries to the body.
The cannabinoid CBN is being studied as a potential treatment for glaucoma .