Antioxidant is a term you’ve probably seen written on wine bottles or other products, garishly emphasized with large font, informing you that because it’s an antioxidant, it’s healthy.
However… What is an antioxidant? Better yet, what’s an oxidant?
Antioxidants have always been one of those things that people know is generally a good thing, but they don’t know what they actually are. It’s the same magic as what the mechanic does to your car – you know he fixes it, so why bother finding out for yourself?
Well, antioxidants are incredibly important for the human body and not making enough of them means you’re going to have a really, really bad time.
Besides the conventional sources, it turns out that the lesser known component of Cannabis Sativa, CBD, is a surprisingly excellent antioxidant with few side effects.
Firstly however, what exactly is oxidation, and why is it such a bad thing?
What is Oxidation?
Oxidation is better known in the scientific community as redox, which is short for reduction-oxidation reaction. This describes the chemical reaction in which the oxidation states of atoms are changed.
That sounds extremely confusing, doesn’t it? Well, oxidation itself is actually visible almost everywhere. The simple act of metal rust on iron is the most well known, whereas combustion (such as lighting a fire) is a very fast oxidation reaction.
In scientific terms, oxidation is the process of electron transfer from one atom to another. The simple reason we call it oxidation is because the scientist who coined the term, Antoine Lavoisier, noted the frequency with which oxygen was responsible for the process, for example in igniting fires.
This simple process results in a variety of different forms of atrophy, such as with iron falling apart due to rust thanks to oxidation. In that example, oxygen interacts with iron to steal some of its electrons, forming iron oxide, which can more easily break off from the whole iron object.
This process also occurs within the human body and is an ever present concern, as well as why you often see certain products labeled as “antioxidant”.
So, what effect does oxidation have on our bodies?
How Does Oxidation Work in the Body?
Oxidation within the human body follows the same principles as in nature – atoms stealing electron from other atoms.
This is generally referred to as oxidative stress, which is a process that occurs at the cellular level. What happens is that, whenever energy is created within a cell, waste known as free radicals are also created. These free radicals are molecules which have a sad, lonely electron. This electron, like all others of its kind, likes to be paired with other electrons, so will actively try and find an electron to steal.
This can cause a sudden, overwhelming torrent of electron thieving within the body, as these free radicals steal an electron from a neighboring cell, which causes that cell to steal an electron from another cell, and so on.
The body’s natural defense against this are known as antioxidants. These stop free radicals from doing cellular damage – most notably to our DNA – by giving them their desired electron. This stops those free radicals from leeching an electron off of a neighboring cell, possibly damaging the most important cell of them all, DNA.
If your body doesn’t have enough antioxidants, you can suffer common forms of damage resulting from free radicals, including Parkinson’s disease, heart attacks, or even Alzheimer’s disease.
Many common foods and substances we ingest are often described as being an antioxidant, which essentially just means that they help encourage the production of antioxidants within the body.
One of the most little-known antioxidants available, however, is CBD.
CBD is a Natural Antioxidant
That’s right, it turns out that CBD, THC’s healthier, entirely non-psychoactive* cousin within Cannabis Sativa, is an incredibly effective antioxidant.
While not entirely known by the public, the US government has been aware of CBD’s antioxidant properties since 2001, as revealed by a patent issued to the US Health and Human Services* which states that “cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties […] in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, HIV, and dementia”. These conditions are all caused in part due to free radicals and the breaking apart of your body’s cellular system.
However, how does CBD work in helping prevent free radicals?
CBD’s Antioxidant Effect Explained
CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system in the human body. This system is responsible for a whole litany of different health systems within the body, but can be most significantly attributed to the control of cellular regrowth and neurocellular health.
CBD helps the body by interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which then encourage the body to heal itself through its regular processes. With regard to antioxidant effects, the CB2 receptor is responsible for healthy regulation of neurological cells – the cells that make up the neurons in your brain.
Oxidation is a serious risk, but most significantly so within the brain, as when you begin to lose electrons from neuron cells, various conditions can develop, most significantly Parkinson’s disease. Through the triggering of the CB2 receptor, the body is encouraged to protect neurological cells. This was primarily discovered in 1998 by Hampson et al. in a study* published in the National Academy of Sciences, which found that CBD worked especially well at fighting against neurotoxicity. They combated neuropathic decay, as well as general cellular degradation through oxidation, through their natural antioxidant properties.
This study has helped cement CBD as a valid option for helping to prevent a myriad of diseases caused by rapid oxidation of cells.
An additional study*, conducted by Garcia-Arencibia et al. for the International Brain Research Organization, supports CBD as an antioxidant.
By giving various mice abrasions along their nigrostriatal neurons, the researchers were able to evaluate different substances and their effect on the cellular regrowth.
They found that AM404, a chemical compound often frequently found as a metabolite of paracetamol, worked especially well in combating the lesions and their cellular decay. AM404 is a significant antioxidant and is created through the triggering of the CB2 receptor. Through the application of AM404, the mice were able to actually heal their wounds and combat the damage caused to their neurological cells.
This study further shows that CBD acts as a powerful antioxidant, able to not only stop various conditions and diseases related to rapid oxidation from occurring, but is also able to work towards reversing the progression of those diseases with correct application.
One interesting consideration when thinking about antioxidants is that it appears that whole plant sources are superior to extracts.
In one study* conducted by Lobo et al. for the Journal of Pharmacognosy Review, researchers discovered that synthetic antioxidants, as well as more specific extracts of plants like with CBD from Cannabis Sativa, are in fact less potent than whole plant sources.
This means that, while best CBD oils will certainly provide antioxidant effects, the most efficient way to get the antioxidant effect from your CBD is to imbibe the whole plant. It appears that, where antioxidants are concerned, just the active ingredient isn’t enough.
So, if you’re going to be using CBD to help encourage antioxidant effects in your body, consider actually taking the whole plant, rather than just the extract oil.
Final Thoughts on CBD as an Antioxidant
Antioxidants have been demonstrated to be incredibly important in maintaining your body’s health. By ensuring that free radicals don’t roam wherever they like, stealing electrons and destabilizing your cells and DNA, antioxidants act to ensure your body works in perfect harmony.
As you age however, antibody production deteriorates and it can sometimes become harder to maintain correct levels of those necessary antioxidants.
Through a myriad of studies, CBD has been demonstrated to be surprisingly excellent source of antioxidants. Through medical application of CBD, patients with diseases or disorders caused by too much oxidation can possibly be treated, whereas others can use CBD to help prevent those same diseases from coming up in the first place.
There are a lot of ways to encourage antioxidants in your body, but CBD appears to be a remarkably efficient method with the ability to help a lot of people.
Just bear in mind that getting CBD from a whole plant source, rather than from an oil extract, is the most efficient way to get that wonderful antioxidant effect. The exact reasons for this aren’t exactly clear, but you can still get some antioxidants from just the oil.
Whatever method you choose, using CBD as an antioxidant seems to help encourage proper health and forestall a variety of diseases.
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