Of the many different kinds of psychoactive substances known to cause changes in one’s consciousness, the one most frequently used is alcohol. Alcohol consumption has been prominent for thousands of years and is often featured in most cultural mythologies, such as the Greek god of wine, Dionysus.
While a moderate amount of alcohol can be beneficial for health, such as in the well known anti-aging compound in wine, chronic heavy consumption of alcohol is very harmful. After all, alcohol is a poison. Because of this, it must be processed by the liver in order to protect the body and keep it healthy. If an individual regularly consumes large amounts of alcohol over time, this can cause harm to the liver, making it ineffective at processing and detoxifying the body from all the toxins we take in every day, including those found in food, drinks, our environment, and medications.
Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
If the liver is damaged by alcohol, then it eventually leads to a condition called Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. This is a serious medical condition that greatly impacts a person’s health and quality of life. The buildup of fatty deposits within the liver makes it less efficient in detoxifying the body and leads to many chronic health conditions, such as high triglycerides and cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, obesity, immune deficiencies, blood clotting abnormalities, emotional and behavioral changes, neurological disturbances, and abnormal hormone regulation.
Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease creates high amounts of inflammation throughout the entire body, but is also highly concentrated within the liver itself. This inflammation in the liver causes damage to the liver cells and causes scarring of the liver. This scarring makes the liver less efficient and causes further health problems. Unfortunately, the scarring is not reversible. The best that can be done is to treat the causes of it to prevent further damage.
Cirrhosis of the Liver
A high amount of scarring causes cirrhosis of the liver, which is very dangerous. This means that the liver is no longer functioning properly at all and there is an extreme buildup of toxins and pollutants, poor breakdown of old cells, swelling of the abdomen, and yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice). This is a major reason for the need of liver transplantation. If a transplant is not received, the end result is liver failure and death.
It is also known that heavy alcohol drinking causes a condition known as oxidative damage. Oxidative damage or stress is the production of compounds called free radicals, which are electrically imbalanced and desperate to neutralize the electrical imbalance. This is done by stealing the negative charged electrons that are contained on molecules within the cell walls, on the DNA itself, from key proteins or hormones, or any other compound or component of the body. This causes great damage to and improper functioning of the body.
In addition to the horrible systemic effects caused by chronic alcohol consumption, a known adverse result is toxicity within the brain and nervous system. The neurological damage associated with heavy alcohol consumption is probably the most devastating of its negative side-effects. It can produce loss of memory, learning impairments, delirium, and can even cause indefinite loss of motor control and balance. Additionally, if someone has an addiction to alcohol, they can experience seizures as part of the withdrawal process.
In a 2005 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, researchers Hamelink et al compared the effects of cannabidiol (CBD), antioxidants, and diuretics at reversing the neurotoxicity associated with binge drinking of alcohol. Binge drinking of alcohol is defined as the consumption of four to five or more alcoholic drinks in a row. The damaging effects of this are seen in both occasional and chronic binge drinking. Within the United States alone, it is estimated that roughly 40% of college students and a high percentage of adults fit into this category of binge drinking.
The researchers in this study wanted to specifically see if CBD could provide beneficial protective effects to the brain and nervous system. They conducted the experiment in an accepted rat model of binge alcohol induced neurotoxicity. The results were compared with the known effects of antioxidants and diuretics.
The rats within the study were subjected to 5 days of binge alcohol consumption and were then tested on various learning, memory, and behavior tests daily for another 5 days. The rats were then anesthetized and their brains were analyzed to determine the physical effects of the study. The researchers in the study noted that those rats that had been given CBD during the binge alcohol phase showed much less damage to physical brain structures than those not receiving CBD. The neuroprotective effects of CBD were directly linked to its ability to prevent and protect against toxicity of the brain due to glutamate.
The team then analyzed CBD’s effects at being a potent antioxidant by comparing it to two other well known strong antioxidants. All three of of them produced a 50% reduction in the amount of free radical damage due to reactive oxygen species. Finding a potent antioxidant such as CBD is extremely beneficial for protecting the neurons within the brain and nervous system because the brain has a high concentration of fats and lipids and low concentration of antioxidants, making it very vulnerable to oxidative damage.
In summary, the researchers state clearly that CBD is a very potent antioxidant that can effectively neutralize and reverse the damaging neurological effects of binge alcohol drinking. CBD was also found to protect the brain and neurons from being damaged when it was administered at the same time as alcohol consumption.
While the best prevention against brain damage due to binge alcohol drinking is obviously to moderate one’s consumption of alcohol, it is highly beneficial to know how to use CBD to protect, prevent, and reverse the damage caused by binge drinking. For more information on the many benefits of CBD, check out some of the other articles on this site.