While statins may lower your LDL cholesterol numbers, some researchers believe it does nothing to protect users from heart attacks or strokes. They also have many adverse side effects which may lead to long-term problems in the future. Studies suggest that CBD may lower blood cholesterol levels and remove plaque. In this article, I will discuss how statins work, list their adverse side effects, and explain the importance of cholesterol. I will cite studies that support the potential replacement of statins with CBD as well as further studies about possible CBD-statin interactions.
What Are Statins?
Statins are a class of drugs that reduce the blood lipid levels by changing the activity of the liver enzymes in their production.
Statins Side Effects
- May cause muscle damage
- May cause neurological problems
- May increase blood sugar levels
- May cause liver damage
The Importance of Cholesterol
Some people view cholesterol as bad. But, a substantial amount of cholesterol, a waxy fatty acid found in human cells, is required by the body to carry out essential functions. These include the production of hormones, vitamin D, digestive bile, and the maintenance of many brain functions. HDL is the good cholesterol and LDL is the harmful cholesterol.
The human body stores cholesterol for future use, but when there is an excess of cholesterol, it gets stored in the arteries. The HDL is used for necessary bodily functions, but the LDL turns into plaque in the arteries. Plaque buildup is what leads to heart disease and strokes. However, statins do not actually remove plaque. They simply block the cholesterol producing enzyme, HMG, which reduces the total amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. This forces the body to reabsorb the cholesterol from the arteries.
Many studies suggest that an increase in HDL and a decrease in LDL may lead to a decrease in cardiovascular mortality. Some of the more recent studies suggest that there is no correlation between a higher LDL cholesterol number and the development of cardiovascular disease.
Can CBD Effectively Replace Statins?
While CBD is known for many therapeutic effects, there are few studies suggesting its impact on the removal of plaque and the reduction of LDL. Here are a few that do support this hypothesis:
- Hector Lopez led a study, published in May 2020 in the Journal of Dietary Supplements, that suggested that CBD may increase HDL levels through its impact on specific brain receptors.
- A 2016 study, published in Diabetes Care, indicated that CBD may regulate the production of insulin and metabolism of sugar and increase the capacity to process unhealthy fats. This process was seen to lower the LDL levels in overweight, but otherwise healthy individuals, within six weeks, even with a normal diet.
- A 2013 study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, showed that CBD oil may indirectly regulate blood cholesterol content and reduce cardiovascular disease risk by minimizing the stress response by the cardiovascular system.
While there is still no agreement by researchers on the effect that CBD has on the heart, here are some studies promoting the supposition that CBD may have cardi-protective properties:
- A 2010 study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, suggests that CBD may prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases in diabetic patients.
- A 2020 study, published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements, demonstrated that CBD may regulate the immune system and provide cardiovascular protection through its indirect activation of CB2 receptors by way of the 5-HT3A brain receptor.
- A 2019 paper, published in the Recent Advances in Cannabinoid Physiology and Pathology, makes the case that there is a close link between the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and its impact on cardiovascular diseases. CBD may act as a vasorelaxant, which allows more blood to flow through blood vessels. This reduces the stress on the heart.
Scientists are unclear on how CBD interacts with statins. Studies indicate that CBD inhibits several of the liver enzymes which are necessary for breaking down statins. The outcome may be an increase in the concentration of statins in the bloodstream approaching toxic levels. With long-term use, this could mean a risk to a patient’s health including more adverse side effects.
Here is what we know:
- Statins are metabolized by the liver’s Cytochrome P450 group of liver isoenzymes; CYP3A4, CYP3A5, CYP2C9, and CYP2C19
- Studies indicate that CBD inhibits these enzymes
- Long-term use of CBD can interfere with the normal functioning of these enzymes, thus lowering the blood statin clearance rate
- This causes higher concentrations of statins remaining in the bloodstream, leading to an increase in the severity of side effects
- While there is no conclusive evidence that combining CBD with statins is harmful, the aforementioned information suggests that it poses a possible health risk.
Here are a few publications which show the impact of combining CBD with statins:
- The March 2020 edition of the Pharmacist’s Guide to CBD Oil, suggested that CBD has the potential to reduce the effectiveness of statins by inhibiting the CYP3A4 liver enzyme.
- A 2020 study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that certain other medications may cause an increase or decrease of CBD which may affect its impact on other drugs.
Anecdotal evidence shows significant interactions of the two medications only in rare cases of long-term usage and high doses of both. Clearly, if you notice any drug interactions, consult your physician.
Pharmacologists Waiting for Patent on a Cannabinoid-Statin Medication
Colorado-based pharmacology inventors, James Smeeding and Mathew Sherwood, of Indication BioScience, have developed a medication combining a cannabinoid with a statin and are awaiting patent approval.
Their findings indicate that the use of cannabinoids may increase the efficiency of the ECS. The fact that they have developed this medication suggests that their risk/benefit assessment of a potential interaction must be quite a low risk. However, in order to satisfy the FDA, it seems reasonable to conclude that more human clinical trials will be required.
Let us hope that the use of cannabinoids plays a major role in the future of cardiovascular therapies or at the very least, may be used to relieve some of the symptoms of cardiovascular diseases.
thecannabisradar.com, CBD & Statins: Can CBD Replace Statins as Cholesterol Medication?