Medical Research

Long-term Effects of CBD in a Pre-clinical Model

Written by Asia Mayfield

As medical interest in cannabidiol (CBD) grows, so does the need to know its long-term effects. CBD’s therapeutic potential can’t be fully achieved until people better understand its possible risks, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s hesitance to allow CBD in food and drinks stems from a lack of data.

One recent study examined CBD’s long-term safety in Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), a nematode that has been widely utilized as a pre-clinical model. This species is often used in research because its lifespan averages 2-3 weeks and 60-80% of its genes have a human ortholog, or the same function.[1] As such, this model is used to screen drugs in early testing to determine if they are safe.

In this study, the nematodes were given different doses of hemp-derived CBD over the course of their short lives so that researchers could examine the physiological effects of CBD on safety and lifespan. They found no evidence of CBD effects on toxicity. In fact, CBD consumption extended mean lifespan by up to 18% at certain doses. They also found that CBD mitigated age-related decline by measuring activity levels.[1] These results are similar to another study on C. elegans.

The researchers weren’t able to determine the mechanisms through which CBD positively affected the nematodes. In addition they were given hemp-derived CBD isolate. Full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD or cannabis-derived CBD may have different effects. While C. elegans is a great pre-clinical model, these results cannot be directly applied to humans. However, the initial results are promising.

The health industry is interested in CBD because of its medicinal potential. And as more and more evidence demonstrates that CBD has many physical and mental health benefits, with adequate safety data, it will become easier to develop new CBD-based therapies.

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  1. Land MH, et al. “Effect of cannabidiol on the long-term toxicity and lifespan in the preclinical model Caenorhabditis elegans.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 2020; in press.

About the author

Asia Mayfield

Asia Mayfield is a freelance writer who focuses on the cannabis industry. She can be reached at