Fashions and trends keep changing, but one thing persists, the quest for health and longevity. Although life expectancy continues to increase, people are constantly looking for new ways to slow down aging. Thanks to advances in medicine, its physiological mechanism has been analyzed at all levels, and it is at the cellular level that everything is played out. After explaining what oxidative stress is, we will see that molecules can combat its effects and antioxidants. We will detail how and why CBD would be an effective candidate.
WHAT IS OXIDATIVE STRESS
Oxidative stress has nothing to do with anxiety itself, such as that felt before an exam, for example. It is a physiological mechanism responsible for cellular ageing and the degeneration of the organism.
When tissues use oxygen to burn food and convert it into energy, waste is produced. These are unstable particles called free radicals. Each free radical has a single electron, said to be unpaired. This electron, which is negatively charged, does not like to remain isolated and will seek to find another electron to form a pair and thus ensure the stability of the free radical.
To do this, it will move around the body, collide with healthy cells to steal an electron from them. It is this loss of electrons that will damage the attacked cell and accelerate its aging.
This electron-seeking mechanism damages healthy cells and can even damage their DNA.
Indeed, each cell of the organism has DNA that codes its functioning. This alteration can be at the origin of certain pathologies such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers.
These free radicals can also be promoted by stress and exposure to toxic environmental substances such as cigarette smoke, asbestos or pollution.
WHAT IS AN ANTIOXIDANT
The antioxidant is a molecule capable of capturing and stabilizing free radicals. The endogenous or exogenous source brings an electron so that it assembles with the free radical’s solitary electron. Thus, once the pair (re) formed, the latter is stabilized, and there is no longer any risk of DNA deterioration for neighbouring healthy cells because there is no longer any need to go and steal an electron.
Some antioxidants are produced naturally by the body, but they are generally not sufficient to fight against oxidation. Therefore, it is advisable to promote a diet rich in antioxidants to inhibit oxidative stress and thus delay ageing or the appearance of certain pathologies.
There is a scale for measuring the antioxidant potential of food: the ORAC index (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity), expressed in units per 100 grams.
Scientists recommend ingesting between 3,000 and 5,000 ORAC units daily. Certain foods have remarkable antioxidant power, such as goji berries (ORAC index 3290/100 g), turmeric (127 068/100 g), cranberries (9 090/100 g), dark chocolate (20 816/100 g) ), walnuts (13 541/100 g), thyme (157 380/100 g) or pomegranate (4479/100 g). Foods rich in vitamins C and E, omega three fatty acids and beta-carotene are also very effective in the fight against aging.
Also Read: VITAMINS AND THEIR FUNCTION IN YOUR BODY
THE ANTIOXIDANT POTENTIAL OF CBD
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a phytocannabinoid naturally synthesized by the cannabis plant. Its antioxidant potential has been proven thanks to scientific studies carried out in recent years.
A study published in 1998 in the United States demonstrated the antioxidant and neuroprotective properties of CBD. The researchers concluded that “Cannabidiol, THC, and several synthetic cannabinoids have all been shown to be antioxidants by cyclic voltammetry (a procedure that measures a compound’s ability to accept or donate electrons under varying voltage potential).
Cannabidiol was more protective against glutamate neurotoxicity than ascorbate or alpha-tocopherol, indicating that it is a potent antioxidant.” Since then, the dangerousness of synthetic cannabinoids has been scientifically identified because they alone are capable of causing lethality linked to an overdose of cannabinoids.
In another study published in 2019 by Polish researchers, the effectiveness of CBD on oxidative stress could be explained precisely by several physiological mechanisms.
On the one hand, CBD inhibits the formation of DRO (Reactive Oxygen Derivatives, of which free radicals are part) thanks to:
- inhibition of the activity of so-called pro-oxidant enzymes (NOX and xanthine oxidase)
- the interruption of free radical chain reactions.
On the other hand, CBD induces an antioxidant defense thanks to:
- the supply of micronutrients supporting antioxidant activity (Zinc and Selenium)
- increased levels of non-enzymatic antioxidants (GSH: glutathione)
- inhibition of oxidative changes in lipids, proteins, and DNA
- strengthening of antioxidant enzymatic activity (Copper, Zinc, Manganese Superoxide dismutase)
But it’s not just CBD that is an antioxidant. The terpenes and flavonoids, also synthesized active ingredients by the cannabis plant, have beneficial properties in fighting against cellular aging. The beta-caryophyllene terpene, in addition to its anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant potential, is recognized as a very effective antioxidant. It is also found in black pepper, hops, basil, cloves, and oregano. Finally, cannabis seeds (hemp seeds) also have a high potential against oxidation thanks to their high carotene concentration.
- In conclusion, oxidative stress is a natural, inevitable phenomenon responsible for cellular aging. Antioxidants help slow down and fight degeneration. Although they are naturally present in the body, it is advisable to strengthen them with foods with a high ORAC index and food supplements. To benefit from the antioxidant properties of all the active ingredients of plants and cannabis, broad-spectrum extracts are to be preferred because they ensure the entourage effect.