CBD Study Shows Longer Lifespans in Worms

An employee adds drops of cannabidiol to a coffee glass at the Found Cafe, Hong Kong, Sept. 13, 2020.
An employee adds drops of cannabidiol to a coffee glass at the Found Cafe, Hong Kong, Sept. 13, 2020.
AP Photo/Vincent Yu

Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth says the first long-term study of cannabidiol exposure showed longer lifespans and increased activity in late-stage life.

The company and its Spectrum Therapeutics medical division published a study that explored the impact of CBD on the roundworm caenorhabditis elegans — a species with a typical lifespan of just two to three weeks that shares between 60% and 80% of its genes with humans.

The study model, the company said, did not show any acute or long-term toxicity in worms with concentrations of CBD in their systems. Instead, the research showed that CBD extended lifespans by a mean of 18% — and increased late-stage life activity by more than 200% — compared to control worms in the study.

Sales of products containing — or claiming to contain — CBD have boomed amid mostly anecdotal reports of benefits for both mental health and physical ailments. Like many other marijuana products and derivatives, however, research into CBD has been limited by decades of strict cannabis regulations.

Canopy officials said the study is, to their knowledge, the first to examine the effects of chronic CBD exposure on long-term toxicity and lifespan.

"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," Hunter Land, Canopy’s senior director of translational and discovery science, said in a statement.

Canopy and Spectrum conducted the study in partnership with NemaLife, a Texas company that developed the research platform for C. elegans worms. The study was published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

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