While many people focus on CBD’s ability to help victims of the opioid epidemic the United States currently faces, many people overlook the potential aid CBD may have in regular consumers of alcohol.
Researchers have submitted documents, currently under review to be published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, outlining a study that indicates cannabidiol (CBD) appears to “facilitate drinking reduction,” and goes so far as to say that CBD “may provide idiosyncratic protection to the liver and brain, which could reduce the development and impact of alcohol-related liver disease and alcohol-related brain injury.”
The study targets alcohol use disorders, “AUD” in animal test subjects that have been given a dose of ethanol. While the authors of the study recommend clinical testing in human patients, none have been published. They believe the data gathered in animal testing, if applied to human trials, could “pave the way for testing new harm reduction approaches in AUD.”
The French and Belgian team leading the study scoured over 25 previous journal publications submitted between 1974 and 2018 in an effort to show continued correlation between the ingestion of CBD and the reduction of alcohol use. For example, one study determined that lab mice were less likely to exert effort pushing a lever (that would deliver a dose of an 8% ethanol solution) when given a prior dose of CBD; another study claimed mice dosed with CBD had a higher probability of “staying sober,” after being weaned off of the ethanol solution, even while stressed.
AUD has several symptomatic indicators including “intake, motivation, relapse, anxiety, and impulsivity.” CBD could potentially “have a significant action on drinking levels in human subjects with AUD.” The research team mentioned that studies need to be done that involve “binge-drinking models,” as well as those focused on long-term alcohol use.
Additional evidence demonstrating the efficacy of cannabidiol on the symptoms of alcohol consumption relate to inflammation in the liver. One study highlighted that mice being “force-fed alcohol every 12 hours for five days” had reduced liver inflammation when given CBD before the trial.
“CBD seems to have valuable therapeutic properties for ethanol-induced liver damage, through multiple mechanisms,” noted the authors of the study, “including the reduction of oxidative stress, inflammation control, and the death of certain cells responsible for large amounts of scar tissue.”
The liver isn’t the only organ receiving benefits from CBD during alcohol consumption, the brain has areas that could also be protected from alcohol-induced damage. Mice consuming the tested ethanol solutions, when given a dose of CBD, showed a significant reduction in the number of brain cells lost in the “entorhinal cortex and hippocampus,” areas of the brain that are partially responsible for memory and cognition. It was noted that “CBD acted as a ‘neuroprotective antioxidant.” Yet another experiment mentioned observing seemingly restored brain functions of mice suffering from acute liver failure.
The human body has “CB2 receptors” in multiple locations, acting as part of our overall endocannabinoid system. The interaction between cannabinoids and our existing system of receptors is key in experiencing the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
The current treatment responses to AUD have been described as, “insufficiently effective at a population level, and new therapeutic prospects are needed. Moreover, no drug for reducing alcohol-related harms, either on the brain or the liver, has ever been studied.”
It was also noted that, “CBD could have many more positive effects in subjects with AUD, including antiepileptic, cardioprotective, anxiolytic, or analgesic ones. Human studies are thus crucially needed to explore the many prospects of CBD in AUD and related conditions.”