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The Role of Healthy Fats in Enhancing the Benefits of CBD and Medical Cannabis

By April 3, 2023October 26th, 2023No Comments
Medical cannabis and healthy fats - salmon, avocado, nuts, etc.
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The cannabis plant contains a substance called cannabidiol, also known as CBD. This cannabinoid interacts with the neuroreceptors in your endocannabinoid system, which delivers messages between your cells to assist regulate your mobility, mood, homeostasis, and immune system. CBD has the potential to help manage inflammation and pain, and other symptoms associated with different medical conditions such as chronic pain, psoriasis, anxiety, insomnia and more. 

While this is more common knowledge these days, did you know that your diet can have an impact on the effectiveness of your CBD? Cannabis chefs are aware that consuming fats like butter and coconut oil together with cannabis is key for preserving the potency of the edibles. This is due to the fat-soluble nature of cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). This indicates that in order for the body to best absorb the cannabinoids from cannabis edibles, fat should be consumed with them.

Nevertheless, more recent research has found that the relationship between lipids and cannabis is more nuanced than that, with significant implications for maximizing the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

The Science Behind CBD and Bioavailability

Bioavailability is the ability of a drug or other substance to be absorbed and used by the body. Orally bioavailable means that a drug or other substance that is taken by mouth can be absorbed and used by the body. Substances that individuals ingest, such as vitamins, dietary supplements, and pharmaceuticals, can either be fat or water-soluble. This means that either water or fat can cause them to dissolve and become accessible. Water-soluble compounds, such as vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins, are easily dissolved in water and are eliminated through the kidneys when they are in excess.

CBD and vitamins A and K are examples of fat-soluble compounds that are lipophiles. This indicates that they require fats in order to be absorbed by the body. These compounds gradually build up in the body’s fatty tissues rather than being eliminated by the kidneys. 

Once ingested, they will be absorbed by the bloodstream after being broken down by the digestive system. This is due to the lipophilic nature of all cannabis chemicals. To dissolve and become accessible, they require lipids. Moreover, they build up in the body’s own fatty tissues. Hence, dietary fat is necessary for cannabis to work at its best; the more fat, the better.

The Role of Healthy Fats in Enhancing Bioavailability

Like protein and carbohydrates, fat is a type of food that your body requires for energy, to absorb vitamins, and to maintain the health of your heart and brain. We have been told for years that eating fat can increase your waistline by inches, elevate your cholesterol, and result in a variety of health issues – yet today we understand that not all fat is created equal.

The negative effects of all fats have been attributed to “bad” fats, including weight gain, clogged arteries, increased risk of certain diseases, and so on. “Bad” fats include artificial trans fats and saturated fats. Unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, however, have the opposite effect. They are considered “healthy” fats. In reality, eating healthy fats can help you manage your moods, stay sharp mentally, battle fatigue, and even keep your weight under control.

As fat is a crucial component of a balanced diet, focusing on increasing consumption of healthy “good” fats while reducing the consumption of detrimental “bad” fats is more crucial than adopting a low-fat diet.

The “good fats” (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) are known for being beneficial to your heart, cholesterol, and general health.

Certain lipids may:

  • Reduce the danger of stroke and heart disease
  • Reduce levels of harmful LDL cholesterol while raising levels of good HDL
  • Help avoid unnatural cardiac rhythms
  • Reduce inflammation and triglycerides linked to heart disease
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Keep atherosclerosis at bay (hardening and narrowing of the arteries)
  • Help you feel fuller for longer after meals, which can help you eat less and lose weight

Good sources of monounsaturated fat include:

  • Oils from olives, canola, peanuts, and sesame
  • Avocados
  • Okra Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
  • Almond butter

Good sources of polyunsaturated fat include:

  • Sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Fish oil and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, and sardines)
  • Safflower and soybean oil
  • Soymilk
  • Tofu

Although meat and dairy products do contain trace levels of naturally occurring trans fats, it is the artificial trans fats that are thought to be hazardous. This is the worst kind of fat since it lowers HDL levels while increasing levels of harmful LDL cholesterol. Inflammation, which has been related to heart disease, stroke, and other chronic disorders, and insulin resistance, which raises the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, can also be brought on by artificial trans fats.

Primary sources of trans fat include:

  • Pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, and pizza dough baked by businesses
  • Prepackaged snacks (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)
  • Margarine sticks with vegetable shortening
  • Fried food (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish)

It is preferable to take saturated fat in moderation, while it is not as dangerous as trans fat, it can increase bad LDL cholesterol. Even while there’s no need to eliminate all saturated fat from your diet, the majority of nutritionists advise keeping it to 10% of daily calories.

Primary sources of saturated fat include:

  • Red meat
  • Poultry skin
  • Dairy products with whole fat (milk, cream, cheese)
  • Lard

Taking medical cannabis with high-fat foods

Do you eat before taking your medical cannabis? According to the findings of a study carried out by Canadian experts, what you eat before taking cannabis may affect how long it takes for the effects of the cannabis to begin to take effect as well as how intense the effects are.

The study primarily examined clinical trial data from 28 people who had either fasted or eaten a meal heavy in fat before receiving oral doses of THC (capsules), as well as what subjects stated about the onset and intensity of effects.

The study’s findings were that eating a high-fat meal before taking an oral dose of THC tended to delay the onset of effects and improve the overall effects.

A University of Minnesota study, published in Epilepsia, examined whether eating high-fat foods after taking CBD increased the body’s absorption of CBD. The study tested whether fasting or a high-fat meal has an effect when cannabidiol oral capsules were taken by patients.

“Altogether, these findings suggest that the presence of a high-fat meal before administering an oral dose of THC increases the levels of both THC and 11-OH-THC, but the rate at which this occurs is slower,” the researchers stated in their findings.

The study found:

  • CBD exposure is vastly increased when CBD is taken with high-fatty foods
  • When compared to fasting, taking CBD with food increased the amount of CBD in the body by four-times and the maximum amount recorded in the participants’ blood by 14-times
  • No cognitive differences were identified, which is consistent with previous studies

Best Foods to Enhance Bioavailability

Selecting Healthy oils

Vegetable oils increase HDL (good cholesterol) while reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides. Omega-6 is a type of polyunsaturated fat found in oils including corn, sunflower, safflower, and soybean that may aid to lessen insulin resistance and inflammation.

Where feasible, use naturally occurring, unprocessed vegetable oils like olive, canola, safflower, and sunflower oil. Use “extra virgin” olive oil instead of standard olive oil when using it because it may have more heart advantages. Oils that have undergone less processing, such cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, may contain advantageous phytochemicals.

Omega-3s’ ability to power healthy fats

Polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids are particularly good for your health. Several forms of omega-3s exist, including ALA, EPA, and DHA. While ALA comes from plants and is a less effective form of omega-3, the body does convert ALA to EPA and DHA at modest rates. EPA and DHA are found in fish and algae and have the greatest health advantages.

According to studies, eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may:

  • Prevent and lessen bipolar, ADHD, and depression symptoms
  • Defend against dementia and memory loss
  • Reduce the chance of developing cancer, heart disease, and stroke
  • Reduce inflammatory skin diseases, joint pain, and arthritis

The finest source of omega-3 is fish (high in EPA and DHA):

  • Anchovies\Herring
  • Salmon\Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Tuna\Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Halibut Omega-3-rich plant sources (high in ALA)
  • Algae, including seaweed (high in EPA and DHA)
  • Eggs (minimal quantities of DHA) (small amounts of DHA)
  • Oil and flaxseed products
  • Soybean and canola oils
  • Beans (refried, kidney, etc)
  • Kale & spinach

Patients who use medical cannabis frequently want their medication to be as effective as possible, and they are far more likely to ingest cannabis by taking oral doses, thus these researches are helpful from the patient’s perspective.

Patients can create better wellness routines that are more appropriate for their circumstances by learning what kinds of foods they should eat or avoid before taking their cannabis medication. Some patients find it preferable to wait for results even though they will eventually be more potent. Some may prefer the opposite.

Conclusion

As you can tell, what you eat can significantly impacts how your medical cannabis works and takes effect within your body. Utilizing healthy fats around the time you take your medication can drastically improve its effectiveness and may even lead to choosing healthier foods and snacks to get those healthy fats. 

If you have any further questions about medical cannabis or would like to speak with a healthcare professional, book your free appointment with Apollo today!

Sources:
https://cannatechtoday.com/study-shows-what-you-eat-changes-the-effects-of-cannabis
https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/high-fat-foods-can-increase-cbd-absorption-body
https://www.hellomd.com/articles/why-you-need-to-eat-fat-with-your-cannabis/
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/choosing-healthy-fats.htm
https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/bioavailable

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Bodystream has merged into Apollo as of May 1, 2023, and here at Apollo we are looking forward to welcoming all new and existing Bodystream patients for free appointments with a medical cannabis healthcare practitioner.

Bodystream has merged into Apollo as of May 1, 2023, and here at Apollo we are looking forward to welcoming all new and existing Bodystream patients for free appointments with a medical cannabis healthcare practitioner.