CBD Induces Autophagy To Extend Life, New Study Shows

A new study has found that CBD induces autophagy in nematodes, leading to anti-aging and neuroprotective effects.

Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells. 

The results of this new study are the first to explain the anti-aging mechanisms of CBD, forming a basis for the possible application of CBD in improving neuronal health and longevity.

What is autophagy?

Autophagy is the mechanism through which the body removes defective cells and recycles parts of them to create new cells. In this way, autophagy promotes the regeneration of the body. 

“Auto” means self in Greek and “phagy” means eat. So the literal meaning of autophagy is “self-eating.” While that may sound a bit scary, it’s actually a vital process that your body uses to keep you healthy.

Impaired autophagy is associated with accelerated ageing, meaning things that induce autophagy may have anti-aging effects. 

Things that induce autophagy include fasting or calorie restriction, a ketogenic diet, exercise and, of course, CBD. 

Why CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabinoid from the cannabis plant, has a range of positive health effects, including antipsychotic, pro-cognitive, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

Recently, CBD treatment has also been shown to increase lifespan and improve healthspan in different models, such as the nematode worm and zebrafish. However, the exact mechanism through which CBD modulates lifespan is unclear. 

While CBD has been shown to induce autophagy in cultured neuronal cells, this new study is the first to show CBD can trigger autophagy in vivo (an animal model rather than petri dish).

The study 

Published on April 20, also known as 4/20 (a worldwide cannabis appreciation day), the new study looked at caenorhabditis elegans (a nematode worm about 1mm long) as they were exposed to CBD throughout their lifespan.

The findings show that CBD improves healthspan and neuronal morphology associated with ageing in C. elegans by inducing neuronal autophagy and increasing overall autophagy.

Put in simpler terms, neuronal ageing, which is associated with a decline in behavioural and cognitive functions of the brain, is reduced by CBD.   

In fact, CBD improved almost all the age-associated physiological functions, including reproduction, total brood size, pumping rate, and body bends. 

It was also found that CBD induced autophagy to produce anti-aging and neuroprotective effects by acting upon the SIRT1/sir-2.1 genes.


The study authors summarised: “Our study provides evidence that CBD contributed to extending lifespan and ameliorating the deterioration of aging-related physical functions in C. elegans. 

“Our results are the first to provide the anti-aging mechanisms of CBD promoting lifespan and ameliorating neuronal aging, which forms a basis for the possible application of CBD in improving neuronal health and longevity.”

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