It’s been around forever, but a growing body of work suggests that CBD may be the hottest new superfood to come on the scene.
Cannabidiol oil (CBD) has a reputation for several health-promoting properties, but is it a superfood? We think so, and so do a growing number of health professionals.
What is a superfood?
Superfoods have a reputation for promoting better health, and more people are packing their diets with them. Some foods are especially dense in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, as well as high in fiber.
Well-known examples of superfoods we eat every day include blueberries, whole grains, and dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale. Fish that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, lake trout, and albacore tuna, are also considered to be superfoods.
Because these foods are nutrient-dense, many authorities believe they have disease-fighting properties that promote better health, weight control, or improved memory. Similarly, experts believe superfoods can also prevent cellular damage in the brain.
That said, there is no definitive superfood category. Instead, these foods simply seem to have exceptional health benefits in quantities that other foods don’t.
What is CBD oil and does it count as a superfood?
CBD (cannabidiol) oil and hemp oil come from different parts of the cannabis plant. CBD oil uses the whole plant, while hemp oil comes from its seeds. CBD oil is made from a variety of parts of the mature hemp plant but primarily from the flowers. The result is a superfood rich oil with a high CBD content.
When intended for consumption, the CBD oil is then typically combined with a carrier oil, such as MCT oil, derived from coconut, hemp seed oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, pomegranate seed, arnica, and others.
A non-psychoactive compound, by volume CBD oil contains less than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis responsible for the euphoria of marijuana use).
CBD, the active component in CBD oil, doesn’t bind with either of the body’s two cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). Instead, it regulates non-cannabinoid receptors and ion channels. It also interacts with a variety of receptor-independent pathways.
CBD oil, an antioxidant
Environmental factors such as exposure to pollutants and UV rays, smoking, and some medications may cause excessive production of extremely reactive molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals can cause damage to healthy cells, as well as impair those cells’ ability to function.
Free radicals are oxygenated molecules with an uneven number of electrons. Because of the uneven number of electrons, these molecules react readily with other molecules in the body.
Oxidative stress occurs when the body has too many free radicals and produces an insufficient number of antioxidants. The condition is a recent phenomenon. The rise in the incidence of oxidative stress has been linked to increasing environmental toxicity.
Researchers believe oxidative stress is a factor in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, and multiple sclerosis. Oxidative stress could also speed up the aging process by changing the body’s cell structures.
CBD oil, an anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is a normal cell function. Inflammation serves the body by protecting it from infections and parasites. Once an infection or parasite is detected in the body, the body’s defenses isolate that area. In response, the body sends immune cells and often results in redness and swelling.
When inflammation occurs too often, it becomes chronic. Chronic inflammation can begin to damage healthy cells and tissue because of the increased production of free radicals, leading to oxidative stress.
Autoimmune disorders can be caused by chronic inflammation. It may also be a factor in diseases such as asthma, cancer, and diabetes. Chronic inflammation may result in a notable degree of pain, anxiety, and sometimes depression.
CBD oil binds to the body’s TRPV1 receptors that mediate pain, sensory perception, inflammation, and body temperature. CBD binds to those receptors, desensitizing them. CBD oil also reduces inflammatory pain by interacting with the glycine receptor, which transmits pain signals, via the spinal cord, to the brain.
Studies show that CBD oil can also significantly reduce inflammation following potent chemotherapy treatment.
Is CBD oil a superfood?
While research into the powerful benefits of CBD is still in the early stages, there’s strong evidence that CBD oil could be a superfood.
The National Institute of Health has recognized the extraordinary antioxidant properties of CBD oil. Production of CBD oil is patented by several companies, organizations, and individuals because its antioxidant properties class it as a neuroprotectant. CBD oil can minimize the neural damage of oxidative stress, as well as support recovery of damaged neurons.
In two studies, results show CBD oil has antioxidant and neuroprotective qualities that help reduce the neurological damage of free radicals. Also, the American Cancer Society has found that, in animals, it can slow the growth and spread of some cancers because it fights oxidative stress and inflammation effectively.
Likewise, a review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, notably found CBD to help in preventing the spread of cancer precisely because of its tendency to suppress cancer cells’ growth, as well as promoting the cells’ destruction.
Care should be taken, however, to purchase CBD in a high-quality form. Transparency in sourcing practices, purity, and quality standards will help to ensure its efficacy. Research suggests that smaller doses of CBD oil 3 – 4 times daily is more beneficial than a single, large dose.
As with all supplements, consult a doctor before beginning an alternative therapy regimen.
After evaluating years of cannabis research, the National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering found that “in adults with chronic pain, patients who were treated with cannabis or cannabinoids are more likely to experience a clinically significant reduction in pain symptoms.” The NASME qualified its conclusions, saying they are based on what’s known about THC or THC plus cannabidiol.
While the science is still in the early stages, CBD users attest, often enthusiastically, to its effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory for joint pain. Early research and user testimonials also indicate that it shows promise for its antioxidant properties — both desirable qualities found in many superfoods.