Cannabidiol And Roundworms – Huh?

CC BY-SA 3.0″>Cannabidiol study - roundworms
Image: Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0

A new study on the long-term effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on roundworms has been published. Here’s why it has some significance.

Canada’s Canopy Growth announced recently announced its medical division, Spectrum Therapeutics, carried out a study focusing on toxicity and lifespan effects of CBD in Caenorhabditis elegans – roundworms. However, unlike some roundworms, C. elegans is a non-hazardous, non-infectious, non-pathogenic, non-parasitic organism according to the University of Minnesota College of Biological Science.

Caenorhabditis elegans is often used in preclinical lifelong drug toxicity studies given an estimated 60–80% of its genes have a human ortholog (evolved from a common ancestral gene).

While cannabidiol is already in wide use around the world, there had been no life-long toxicity studies conducted to date to determine the impact either way or potential for same of long-term exposure to CBD. Given C. elegans short lifespan of 2-3 weeks, this made it a good candidate for such a study.

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The study, published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found CBD did not demonstrate any degree of acute or life-long toxicity or related problems. Instead, CBD extended mean lifespan up to 18% (so an extra couple of/few days). Additionally, motility (movement) analysis of the same groups showed an increase in late-stage life activity by up to 206% compared to controls. The report notes no animal (yes, worms are classified an animal) died prematurely under any of the tested CBD concentrations.

“These results serve as the only CBD life-long exposure data in an in vivo model to date, and the absence of long-term toxicity gives us the evidence we need as an industry to continue researching the potential health benefits for the broader application of CBD,” said Canopy Growth’s Hunter Land.

The researchers note the study will help inform the US FDA’s (very slowly) evolving CBD regulatory framework. The FDA has previously stated two significant concerns it has in developing regulations where there was little available data for it to work with were safe levels of CBD for daily consumption and the effects of long-term use of cannabidiol.

How much of an effect the results for roundworms has in the FDA’s considerations remains to be seen.

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