What is Atherosclerosis and its Associated Conditions?
Atherosclerosis is known as the buildup of blood components in the wall of blood vessels that carry blood, oxygen, and nutrition everywhere in the body. These components include fatty cells, calcium deposits, cholesterol, red blood cells, blood clots, and immune cells. Atherosclerosis is a progressive condition, and the continuous buildup of such components in the blood vessel walls leads to its blockade.
Despite the fact that Atherosclerosis is developed gradually over time and may take many years to occur, it can eventually lead to cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks, stroke, and eventually death if not managed properly.
Atherosclerosis is characterized by many changes that occur to the blood vessel wall, the most important of which are the following three steps:
- Damaging of the inner covering of the blood vessels, known as the endothelial cells.
- Loss of the flexibility of the blood vessel wall due to the buildup of cholesterol and other components beneath the damaged endothelial cells.
- Accumulation of the immune cells in damaged sites, causing inflammation and deposition of fatty matrix. This subsequently hinders the passage of blood through that area.
How is Atherosclerosis Developed?
There is no single cause for the occurrence of Atherosclerosis. Instead, it occurs secondary to the mixed effects of many factors, including diet (high fat and sugar intake), lifestyle habits (sedentary life, smoking, alcoholism and lack of exercise), and genetic factors.
Research revealed that there are multiple genetic markers that the physician investigates to determine the likelihood of a person developing Atherosclerosis. Such genetic factors play a role in the regulation of fat metabolism, cholesterol production, and blood glucose regulation.
Although there are many theories that describe how Atherosclerosis occurs, current researchers are still trying to identify the exact mechanisms of atherosclerosis development.
That being said, the most accepted mechanism of how Atherosclerosis occurs is through oxidative damage to the endothelium of blood vessels, which are known as the cells that line the inner surface of our blood vessels. This damage is the result of high blood glucose levels, smoking, and low levels of antioxidants. Through the years, this damage becomes stiffer, leading to rupture of the inner side of the blood vessel wall due to the weakness of the damaged area and the higher force that is coming from the pumping heart (blood pressure). After that, cholesterol is being deposited into these damaged areas in an attempt to heal the damage.
These cholesterol-filled cracks are called the “cholesterol plaques”. However, over time, blood clots and calcium start to become deposited over these cholesterol plaques, which further narrows the blood vessel, impairing the blood supply to the heart, brain, and many important organs inside the body.
Here is a list of the most commonly reported causes of Atherosclerosis:
- Elevated blood lipid levels, known as hyperlipidemia.
- Increased blood glucose levels, known as diabetes and hyperinsulinemia.
- Elevated arterial blood pressure, known as hypertension.
- Increased mean body weight, known as obesity.
- Genetic factors.
- Blood clotting disorders.
- Old age.
- Sedentary life and lack of physical activity.
People with atherosclerosis use these products :
How can CBD Help Prevent or Treat Atherosclerosis?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is of great therapeutic potential in Atherosclerosis due to its anti-inflammatory effects. This is due to the fact that Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory condition of the blood vessel wall. As Atherosclerosis progresses, the inner wall of the blood vessel becomes damaged and inflamed, and the accumulation of inflammatory cells in the damaged area will result in architectural changes in the blood vessels, leading to its obstruction. If such changes remain present for a long time, then they become permanent. That is why most doctors do their best to stop or regress the progression of this disease early on to achieve optimum outcomes.
In the previous section, we described the various causes of Atherosclerosis, and all of them are interconnected; if one condition gets worse, the others become worse in a while. Therefore, the management of Atherosclerosis is directed at improving all of these symptoms at the same time. Many pharmacological options are currently used to treat the underlying causes of Atherosclerosis; however, the treatment plan usually involves many drugs for prolonged periods of time, with the inevitable poor patient compliance. Also, such drugs have side effects that may affect individuals’ compliance with their treatment regimens. Therefore, CBD has been investigated as a potential option for treating Atherosclerosis. Recent research indicates that CBD has promising therapeutic potential in the management of Atherosclerosis by directly or indirectly controlling the underlying causes of Atherosclerosis.
CBD offers great benefit to patients with Atherosclerosis through the following pathways:
- It regulates blood glucose levels.
- It promotes weight loss for the management of obesity.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties.
- It reduces blood pressure.
- It has anti-oxidative properties.
CBD and Atherosclerosis: How does it work?
CBD experts its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties by acting on the endocannabinoid system inside our bodies, which consists of endocannabinoids and cannabinoids receptors: cannabinoid receptors 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptors 2 (CB2). This system regulates many immune functions and inflammatory pathways.
CBD exerts its actions through a wide variety of pathways, including:
- It does not bind directly to CB1 receptors; however, it prevents the breakdown of the endocannabinoids, which in turn activate these receptors. The activation of these receptors reduces appetite, regulates blood glucose levels, and reduces inflammation.
- It does not bind directly to CB2 receptors; however, it elevates the levels of endocannabinoid compounds, particularly anandamide, which in turn regulates the activity of CB2 receptors. The activation of these receptors regulates the immune function, which is incorporated in the occurrence of Atherosclerosis.
- It binds directly to non-cannabinoid receptors, such as serotonin receptors and adenosine receptors, and thus, reducing pain and providing benefit to patients with Atherosclerosis.
Table 1. The mechanisms through which CBD could potentially treat Atherosclerosis
|The receptor to which CBD binds||Biologic effect||Outcome on Atherosclerosis|
|Adenosine receptor (A2)||Inhibition of reuptake||Reduces blood pressure and strengthens heart muscle contractions|
|Vanilloid pain receptors (TRPV1, TRPV2, TRPV3)||Stimulation||Reduces blood pressure|
|Serotonin receptors||Inhibition||Promotes weight loss in obese people and regulates blood glucose levels|
|µ opioid receptors||Stimulation||Minimizes atherosclerosis-associated pain|
|PPARγ||Stimulation||Regulates blood glucose levels and fat metabolism|
The Most Practical and Safest Practices for Using CBD in Atherosclerosis
Cannabinoid compounds in the cannabis plant, particularly CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), offer promising effects in the management of this condition by targeting the majority of underlying causes simultaneously.
Although CBD has shown great benefits in treating Atherosclerosis by targeting and controlling the underlying causes of such conditions, however, most of the available evidence is based on animal models, and large human-based studies are still needed to reach a definitive conclusion.
Following are advice on how to safely use CBD for Atherosclerosis:
- Consult your physician prior to taking CBD for Atherosclerosis.
- Let your physician know of any drugs that you may be taking.
- Take a full-spectrum CBD extract.
- Adjust your dose of CBD with your doctor.
- CBD should be taken for prolonged periods for better outcomes.
- Dietary changes and lifestyle modifications should be carried out along with CBD.
- Oral CBD is the only recommended form, while smoking should be avoided.
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