CBD, a widely available cannabinoid used by many people for its various health benefits, could potentially help people with serious alcohol problems, according to a new review of current scientific evidence.
It appears that the cannabidiol contained in dried CBD, among other things, not only "facilitates the reduction of alcohol consumption," the article's authors write, but research also shows that the compound "may provide liver and brain protection, which may reduce the development and impact of liver disease and alcohol use-related brain damage. ”
The research review, published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, offers a comprehensive look at how promising the data to date is on the efficacy of CBD for alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, the authors call for human clinical trials that have not yet been published to "pave the way for testing new harm reduction approaches in AUD."
Researchers from France and Belgium reviewed 26 previous studies published between 1974 and June 2018 that examined the effects of CBD in animals receiving ethanol. Several studies have shown that CBD can reduce alcohol consumption. Researchers found that mice given CBD were less motivated to press a lever to access a liquid solution containing 8 percent ethanol.
"Experimental studies show that CBD reduces overall alcohol drinking in animal models by reducing ethanol intake, motivation to consume ethanol, relapse to consumption, and reducing anxiety and impulsivity."
Other studies have shown that mice regularly receiving CBD (cannabidiol) were also less likely to relapse to alcohol, even when stressed. Because of its effects on various aspects of the disease (including "consumption, motivation, relapse, anxiety, and impulsivity"), CBD "may have a significant effect on drinking levels in humans who abuse alcohol," - wrote the study authors.
The researchers also highlighted that CBD may affect hepatitis associated with alcohol use. In one study, researchers found that the livers of mice that were given CBD before alcohol every 12 hours for five days were less damaged than the livers of mice that were not given CBD.
"CBD appears to have valuable therapeutic properties for ethanol-induced liver damage through multiple mechanisms," including reduction of oxidative stress, control of inflammation, and death of certain cells responsible for large amounts of liver scar tissue," , the study authors write.
Finally, CBD may also offer additional protection to specific areas of the brain vulnerable to alcohol-related damage. One study found that the brains of rats that consumed alcohol and received CBD "lost" significantly fewer brain cells in the hippocampus and midbrain cortex. In these rats, CBD acted as an "antioxidant neuroprotective agent," the study review reads. In another experiment, CBD was found to restore neurological and cognitive function in rats with acute liver failure.
"CBD was found to reduce alcohol-related brain damage by preventing neuronal loss through its antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties."
The authors suggest that these overall CBD benefits on alcohol abuse may be due to the "complex" way that cannabidiol interacts with CB2 receptors found throughout the body.
Currently, pharmaceuticals available for people with alcohol problems "are not effective enough at the population level and new therapeutic perspectives are needed. Moreover, no drug that reduces alcohol-related brain and liver damage has ever been studied."
The authors conclude: "CBD may have many more positive effects in patients with alcohol problems, including anti-epileptic, cardioprotective, anti-anxiety or analgesic effects. Human studies are therefore necessary to investigate the effectiveness of CBD in the problem of alcoholism and related conditions. ”