Cannabidiol (CBD) may have the potential to help people with serious alcohol problems, according to a new review of current scientific evidence.
Update on the current situation
Cannabidiol not only appears to “help reduce alcohol consumption,” write the study authors, but research also shows that the compound “may provide idiosyncratic protection for the liver and brain, which could reduce development.” and the impact of alcohol-related liver disease and brain damage.”
The journal, which is awaiting publication in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, provides an overview of promising data on the effectiveness of CBD on alcohol use disorders to date. However, the authors are also calling for clinical trials in humans, none of which have been published to date, to “pave the way for testing new risk reduction approaches”.
Researchers in France and Belgium reviewed 26 previous studies published between 1974 and June 2018 that explored the effects of CBD on animal subjects treated with ethanol. They found several studies that showed that CBD can reduce alcohol consumption. In one case, for example, the researchers found that mice given CBD were less motivated to work (in this case, push a lever) to gain access to a liquid solution containing 8% ethanol.
Can cannabidiol help the alcoholic?
“Experimental studies converge to find that CBD reduces the overall level of alcohol consumption in animal models of AUD by reducing ethanol consumption, motivation for ethanol, relapse, and decreasing anxiety and impulsivity. ” This tends to confirm that CBD could reduce alcohol consumption.
Other studies have found that mice who regularly received doses of the non-toxic marijuana compound were also less likely to relapse after being weaned from alcohol, even when stressed.
Because of its impact on various aspects of the disease (including “ingestion, motivation, relapse, anxiety and impulsivity”), CBD “could have a significant effect on alcohol levels in human subjects with alcohol addiction “according to the authors of the review. However, they add that it would be useful to have data using models of binge drinking and models focusing on long-term exposure to alcohol.
Notable advances in research
The review also found evidence that CDB could affect alcohol-related liver inflammation. In one study, the researchers found that the livers of mice that had received the compound before being force-fed with alcohol every 12 hours for five days were less damaged than those of mice not exposed to CBD.
“CBD appears to have valuable therapeutic properties against liver damage caused by ethanol, thanks to multiple mechanisms, including the reduction of oxidative stress, the control of inflammation and the death of certain cells responsible for large amounts of scar tissue “wrote the authors.
Finally, CBD can also provide additional protection to specific areas of the brain that may be damaged by alcohol. In one study, it was discovered that the brains of rats who had drunk alcohol and who had received CBD had lost “significantly” fewer brain cells in the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex. In these rats, CBD acted as a “neuroprotective antioxidant,” according to the study. In another experiment, CBD also appeared to restore the neurological and cognitive functions of rats with acute liver failure.
“CBD reduces brain damage from alcohol, preventing neuronal loss through its antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties.”
The authors suggest that these overall benefits of CBD with regard to problematic alcohol use may be due to the “complex” way in which the cannabinoid interacts with CB2 receptors, which are located throughout the body.
Currently, according to the study, the pharmaceuticals available to help people with AUD stop drinking are “insufficiently effective at the population level, and new therapeutic perspectives are needed. In addition, no drugs to reduce harm alcohol, either on the brain or the liver, has never been studied. “
In addition, the authors conclude, “CBD could have many more positive effects in people with AUD, including anti-epileptic, cardioprotective, anxiolytic or analgesic effects. Human studies are therefore crucial to explore the many perspectives of CBD in the AUD and related conditions. “