Alcoholism is a huge and persistent problem in the UK. Yet the treatment available to many of those suffering with the condition is largely ineffective.
There has been some evidence, however, that CBD could offer a more effective treatment – both for the withdrawal effects and for treating the addictive behaviour itself.
And now an important new review study lays out just how this cannabis-derived compound may play a role in treating alcohol addiction.
The rise of CBD
The UK’s fledgling cannabis industry is one industry expected to thrive over the coming years. A huge reason for this growth is demand for CBD – one of 100’s of compounds found in cannabis.
While the compound thc causes the psychoactive effects most commonly associated with cannabis use, CBD is free of intense psychoactivity and other severe side effects.
CBD is garnering a lot of attention lately. And for good reason. Acting via a number of different receptors in the human body, CBD has been found to be useful in treating a number of medical conditions, including autoimmune disorders, inflammatory disorders and mental health problems.
A number of preclinical studies also show that CBD may have protective effects against inflammation, anxiety, nausea, seizures, brain damage, concussions and oxidative stress.
Remarkably, CBD has even found to help various types of addictions, including alcoholism and other substance use disorders.
CBD for alcoholism
There is a big need for new treatment options for alcoholism. And CBD is proving itself to be beneficial for a number of good reasons.
Firstly, there is evidence that suggests, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, CBD could help protect the body against the physical damage inflicted by chronic alcohol consumption.
Additionally, strong evidence exists to support CBD as an effective treatment for common side effects of alcohol withdrawal, such as anxiety, nausea and even seizures.
Underpinning much of CBD’s effects is the endocannabinoid system, a biological system which regulates a host of bodily processes, including motivation and reward-seeking behavior.
In fact, there are studies already showing that CBD can reduce cravings and ‘triggers’ of certain habits, like smoking.
Scientists at McMaster University and the St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton Research Hospital in Ontario, Canada have just released the findings of a review study (a meta-study of all relevant peer-reviewed studies) into CBD’s use as an intervention for any aspect of alcohol-related harm.
12 studies met the researchers’ criteria, with 8 of those studies based on rodent models, 3 based on healthy adult subjects, and 1 based on cell culture in a lab setting.
This is what they found.
CBD protects against neurodegeneration
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to brain damage thanks to inflammation and oxidative stress. The damage can affect any part of the brain and can be fatal.
The study discovered, however, that CBD offers some protection of the brain against high levels of alcohol consumption.
While there are no studies on humans proving the effect, in petri dishes and rats, CBD prevented neuron damage and reduced impulsive behaviour.
CBD can reduce relapse
Relapse is common among those addicted to alcohol. The fact that alcohol is so prevalent in our society that it’s pretty hard to miss means addicts will be put into tempting situations often.
In these situations cravings, stress and anxiety can all make relapse a possibility. Yet CBD shows promise in toning down all these feelings.
The review found that in animal models, CBD reduced alcohol-seeking behaviors, withdrawal symptoms, and anxiety. In cases where the rat relapses, those treated with CBD still consumed less alcohol and showed less motivation to drink.
This effect hasn’t been shown in humans yet, but there are clinical studies in humans showing CBD can reduce smoking frequency.
CBD Reverses Liver Damage
The liver is often the organ that suffers most from alcohol abuse. In fact, it’s the leading cause of liver disease.
While a number of studies have found that CBD can aid the liver from other toxicities, there’s also plenty of evidence that CBD has the ability to reverse the harmful effects of alcohol on the liver.
Additionally, while not based specifically on CBD, this study found that cannabis use protects the alcohol-induced diseases including fibrosis (scarring of liver tissue), cirrhosis (ultra-bad scarring of liver tissue), hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), steatosis (fat buildup in the liver), and liver cancer.
The study found cannabis use cuts the chance of developing alcohol-related liver diseases by 50%. That’s right, smoking weed was found half the risk of disease caused by alcohol.
All in all, the review study backed up previous research to suggest that CBD could be a highly effective treatment for alcohol use disorder.
CBD protects the brain and the liver against damage from alcohol and helps reduce the likelihood and severity of relapse.
If you know someone suffering with alcohol addiction (or any addiction for that matter), CBD may be of huge benefit to them.