Does Cannabis Affect Your Cholesterol?
With cannabis use becoming more commonplace, some health-conscious consumers have begun wondering how it may affect cholesterol levels.
As is often the case, there exists sparse clinical research on the subject. However, early studies show that cannabinoids, especially CBD, can indeed impact cholesterol in some circumstances.
So, does cannabis affect cholesterol for better or worse? We explain all you need to know in this in-depth article. But first, let’s look at what cholesterol is and how it influences our health.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a lipoprotein, meaning it consists of both fat and protein molecules. It is a waxy substance and a key component of cell membranes. It has several crucial functions in the body, including acting as a precursor to sex hormones and vitamin D production.
Cholesterol is a lipoprotein that serves several critical functions in the body – including acting as a precursor to sex hormone and Vitmain D production.
The liver and intestines are major contributors to the endogenous production of cholesterol within the body. However, many foods also contain cholesterol, including meat, eggs, and dairy products. For this reason, people who eat these foods regularly may end up with high cholesterol – a significant risk factor for heart disease.
Cholesterol and Heart Health
Although some cholesterol is essential for good health, too much can be detrimental to an individual’s health. This is because excess cholesterol can combine with other substances and build up in the blood vessels.
These fatty build-ups are known as plaques, which can contribute to atherosclerosis, a narrowing, and hardening of the arteries.
Atherosclerosis causes inflammation in the blood vessels and can lead to coronary artery disease. Furthermore, if a plaque ruptures, blood clots can form and block the coronary artery. This prevents the heart from getting sufficient oxygen and can cause angina and heart attacks.
Atherosclerosis is also associated with other types of cardiovascular disease, including carotid artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, and strokes.
However, not all cholesterol is harmful. There are several different types, including:
- >Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): LDL is sometimes known as ‘bad cholesterol.’ It is the type of cholesterol that can form plaques and raise the risk of heart disease.
- Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL): Like LDL, high levels of VLDL cholesterol have been associated with the development of plaque deposits on artery walls. However, VLDL is released into the bloodstream to supply body tissues with triglycerides. Triglycerides are another type of fat that could raise the risk of heart disease.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL): Sometimes known as ‘good cholesterol,’ HDL transports LDL from the arteries to the liver for elimination.
What Is the Normal Cholesterol Level?
Target cholesterol levels vary depending on a person’s age and gender. The table below is a general guide:
Type of Cholesterol
Anyone Under 19
Males Age 20+
Females Age 20+
Non-HDL (including LDL, VLDL)
How to Lower Cholesterol
Some people have naturally higher cholesterol levels than others. Age, ethnicity, and genetics all play a role. However, many of the factors that influence cholesterol levels relate to lifestyle, and, therefore, individuals can alter them.
Some of the best ways to lower cholesterol include:
- Eating a healthy diet (minimal meat, dairy, chocolate, baked goods, fried, and processed foods)
- Engaging in regular physical exercise to maintain a healthy body weight and increase HDL
- Not smoking (smoking raises LDL levels and decreases HDL)
If an individual cannot control their cholesterol by making these lifestyle adjustments, their doctor may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication. Some of the most common cholesterol drugs are called ‘statins’, including:
Although these medications have demonstrated their efficacy in robust clinical trials, unpleasant side effects can still occur. Therefore, some people are looking for more natural alternatives and may be wondering whether cannabis or CBD could help.
So, how does cannabis affect cholesterol? Let’s take a look.
How Does Cannabis Affect Your Cholesterol?
There is currently little research on cannabis and cholesterol. However, there are a handful of studies that suggest it may have some effect.
A 2013 study for the Diabetes Care journal compared 30 cannabis smokers’ cholesterol levels with 30 control subjects. Cannabis use ranged from 3–30 joints per day (median 6) over 2–38 years (median 9.5).
The researchers found the cannabis smokers had lower HDL levels than the control subjects. However, there were no significant differences in total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, or free fatty acids. It is unclear whether the decrease in HDL levels was due to cannabis itself or the consumption method of smoking.
Furthermore, these results differ from those of a 2020 study that looked at CBD-containing hemp oil that illustrated significant improvements in HDL level among participants.
More Research on Cannabinoids and Cholesterol
A 2018 review for the Journal of the American Heart Association investigated the role of cannabinoids in cardiovascular disease. The paper primarily focused on delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for producing the typical cannabis high.
The authors found conflicting evidence regarding whether THC promotes or inhibits atherosclerosis.
It appears that by stimulating CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, THC could increase oxidative stress and induce plaque formation. However, by stimulating CB2 receptors, it could reduce inflammation and inhibit LDL activity.
The review also mentions the CARDIA study, a project that followed cannabis users and non-users over 25 years. It found that cannabis users only had an increased risk of atherosclerosis if they smoked tobacco as well. The remaining studies in the review had inconclusive results, demonstrating the complex nature of cannabis chemistry.
Far more research is necessary before we fully understand the complex relationship between cannabis and cholesterol. However, more clear-cut evidence is emerging regarding the non-intoxicating cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD and Cholesterol
Recent research into CBD may help us to understand how cannabis affects cholesterol.
A 2011 study for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology found that the compound influences cholesterol homeostasis, the process by which cells regulate cholesterol levels. This study illustrates how the endocannabinoid may play a role in cholesterol homeostasis.
A 2017 review for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research investigated further. It found that CBD increased cholesterol levels in wild-type mice. However, it did not impact transgenic mice that already had high cholesterol. It also found that CBD increased HDL by 55% in obese mice while reducing total cholesterol by 25%.
Therefore, it appears that CBD has the potential to regulate cholesterol levels in the body. However, these are the results of laboratory studies, and it is impossible to say how they translate to humans.
Is It Safe to Take CBD Oil with High Cholesterol?
CBD is non-intoxicating, and most experts consider it to have a good safety profile. Therefore, it should be safe for people with high cholesterol to try.
However, there is a possible complication involving the use of CBD and cholesterol medication. CBD inhibits the activity of several liver enzymes. They include those responsible for metabolizing the cholesterol drugs simvastatin and atorvastatin.
Therefore, taking CBD oil with cholesterol medication could potentially produce adverse effects. Anyone considering doing so should consult a physician for further advice.
Does Cannabis Affect Your Cholesterol? Final Thoughts
There is insufficient evidence to conclusively say whether cannabis is good or bad for cholesterol.
While it appears that CBD could have a regulatory effect on cholesterol levels, human studies are currently lacking. And when it comes to THC, matters are even less clear-cut.
Some research studies suggest cannabis could raise the risk of atherosclerosis, while others state the opposite.
What we do know, though, is that smoking is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid this consumption method, especially with tobacco.
Anyone worried about how cannabis use may be affecting their cholesterol levels should discuss their concerns with a knowledgeable physician.
Can CBD Oil Lower Triglycerides? Here Are the Two Ways
Wondering if CBD oil lowers triglycerides? Here we provide the full guide on the two main ways in which it can.
Can CBD Oil Lower Triglycerides? CBD oil can lower triglycerides by boosting metabolism, which burns unused fat and calories, thereby lowering triglycerides levels. The second way is by increasing good (HDL) cholesterol, which can inverse the relationship with high triglycerides levels.
This is according to information and research that’s currently available on the subject.
It’s a well-known fact that CBD oil has come to the forefront in the medical industry with recent research on its numerous benefits. Find out exactly what CBD is here.
In fact, researchers are looking into the potential uses of CBD for a whole raft of medical conditions. But let’s take a look at the reliability of CBD oil for lowering triglycerides.
Reliability of CBD oil for lowering triglycerides – medication advice
CBD has been shown to be beneficial for various health conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, and different chronic pains. However, research is still ongoing to discover the full benefits and potential of CBD oil.
So, the science of whether or not CBD oil can lower triglycerides is still relatively new and very much ongoing.
However, some research shows a positive glimpse on this topic, which makes the use of CBD oil for lowering triglycerides look promising. But again, the process of learning the safety of CBD oil to lower triglycerides with no side effects is still not validated.
So, we’re only going to focus on the available research and what they have to say about CBD oil lowering triglycerides.
If you’re planning to use CBD oil for lowering triglycerides, it should be done strictly with your doctor’s consent – as its reliability isn’t totally confirmed
Let’s get an overview of what triglycerides are.
What are triglycerides?
To begin, triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood.
When you consume food, not all calories are immediately used. The unused calories are converted into triglycerides, which are then stored in your fat cells.
Later these triglycerides are released by hormones to be used for energy.
But, if you eat more calories than your burn, it naturally means there is a high accumulation of unused calories (i.e. Triglycerides).
This tends to be true especially with calories that are high in carbohydrates.
A high accumulation of calories that you do not burn means you’re at a greater risk for high levels of triglycerides (unused calories).
Why you should lower triglyceride levels
Firstly, high triglyceride levels are an indication of increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart diseases.
High triglyceride levels contribute to the thickening or hardening of artery walls, which gradually increases the risk for these conditions.
Secondly, high triglyceride levels are at the root of conditions such as too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is a similar organic compound to triglycerides. Both these compounds occur naturally in our bodies and are essential for the body at normal levels.
However, when the concentration of either triglycerides or cholesterol increases, it equally poses risks to increase heart diseases and related conditions.
Similarly, high blood sugar often lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels and further raises triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Both of these increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.
Finally, on the topic of high blood pressure specifically, hypertensive heart disease refers to heart conditions caused primarily by high blood pressure. As such, it’s evident that higher triglyceride levels impacting different conditions ultimately affect your heart in potentially serious ways.
So, it’s essential to keep your triglycerides at a lower level to avoid the risk of complications.
Two main ways CBD oil can lower triglycerides
In general, according to some established research, it’s shown that CBD oil can lower triglyceride levels. But again, research is still needed to confirm the effectiveness of CBD oil for lowering triglycerides.
With the established research available, there appear to be two main reasons why CBD oil is believed to lower triglyceride levels.
1. Increase metabolism to support unused fat and calorie burning
Metabolic syndrome is often due to high triglyceride levels.
For those unaware of metabolic syndrome, it’s a cluster of health conditions that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, too much fat around the waist, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and high triglycerides.
The combination of these complications can make it more difficult to lose weight.
An increase in waistline resulting from high triglycerides is also caused because of slow metabolism.
Simply put, you gain weight due to high triglycerides, which are unused calories accumulating because you don’t burn more calories than you consume.
By boosting metabolism, the metabolic syndrome induced difficulties in weight loss because of slow metabolism can be effectively reduced, leading to easier weight loss.
Even if you experience an increase in your waist circumference because of high triglyceride levels, CBD oil can potentially boost your metabolism for increased weight loss.
It’s an effective way to burn unused calories and fats accumulated because of high triglycerides.
So, can CBD oil lower triglycerides? Well, weight loss, supported by CBD oil through a fast metabolism can offer beneficial effects on the heart, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes management (which are all part of the metabolic syndrome cluster resulting from high triglyceride levels).
Promotes good (HDL) cholesterol, which is inversely related to high triglycerides
To keep it simple, CBD oil contains omega 3, omega 6, and polyunsaturated fats. All of these elements positively promote maintaining good cholesterol levels. And “good” HDL cholesterol has an inverse relationship with blood triglycerides.
So, the more your “good” cholesterol increases, the more helpful it is in lowering triglyceride levels.
As such, increasing good cholesterol using CBD can go a long way in lowering triglyceride levels.
Combining CBD oil with aerobic exercise can increase HDL cholesterol levels in your blood much more effectively, which can then lower triglycerides.
To validate this, we can look to research published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements as a useful source.
The research was conducted with 65 overweight but otherwise healthy participants.
Each participant was given either 15mg of CBD extract or a placebo daily for 6 weeks, and the results were observed.
Finally, the study concluded that those taking CBD extracts experienced improved HDL (high-density aka “good”) cholesterol levels compared to the placebo.
Participants who were given CBD extracts also reported improvements in sleep and an overall improvement in their quality of life.
To finish up
We hope this has provided a good overview on the question of can CBD oil lower triglycerides. Diet and exercise are important aspects of health, and CBD can offer increased positive effects in this area.
But as always, if you are concerned about your weight or calorie intake and overall condition, then only proceed based on the advice of your doctor or qualified medical professional.
Effects of hempseed and flaxseed oils on the profile of serum lipids, serum total and lipoprotein lipid concentrations and haemostatic factors
Background: Both hempseed oil (HO) and flaxseed oil (FO) contain high amounts of essential fatty acids (FAs); i.e. linoleic acid (LA, 18:2n-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3n-3), but almost in opposite ratios. An excessive intake of one essential FA over the other may interfere with the metabolism of the other while the metabolisms of LA and ALA compete for the same enzymes. It is not known whether there is a difference between n-3 and n-6 FA of plant origin in the effects on serum lipid profile.
Aim of the study: To compare the effects of HO and FO on the profile of serum lipids and fasting concentrations of serum total and lipoprotein lipids, plasma glucose and insulin, and haemostatic factors in healthy humans.
Methods: Fourteen healthy volunteers participated in the study. A randomised, double-blind crossover design was used. The volunteers consumed HO and FO (30 ml/day) for 4 weeks each. The periods were separated by a 4-week washout period.
Results: The HO period resulted in higher proportions of both LA and gamma-linolenic acid in serum cholesteryl esters (CE) and triglycerides (TG) as compared with the FO period (P < 0.001), whereas the FO period resulted in a higher proportion of ALA in both serum CE and TG as compared with the HO period (P < 0.001). The proportion of arachidonic acid in CE was lower after the FO period than after the HO period (P < 0.05). The HO period resulted in a lower total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio compared with the FO period (P = 0.065). No significant differences were found between the periods in measured values of fasting serum total or lipoprotein lipids, plasma glucose, insulin or hemostatic factors.
Conclusions: The effects of HO and FO on the profile of serum lipids differed significantly, with only minor effects on concentrations of fasting serum total or lipoprotein lipids, and no significant changes in concentrations of plasma glucose or insulin or in haemostatic factors.