There's fascinating new research in the longevity space around iron.
Specifically how iron stores build up in the body as we age and cause a range of issues. Maybe aging itself!
That's part of the basis behind the whole blood donation craze and a big reason why women fare better than men (till menopause kicks in).
We'll look at the whole iron question for health and how CBD affects it with these topics:
- Iron and aging
- Does CBD protect from excess iron
- How to support CBD's detox effects
- What type of CBD reduces iron damage
- Other tools to look at for iron overload
Let's get started!
Iron and aging
First, what's the connection between iron levels and aging?
Iron accumulates with aging, and is associated with many age-related diseases; it also shortens the lifespans of several model organisms. Blocking iron absorption through drugs or natural products extends lifespan.
In fact, there's a range of age-related diseases that show hallmarks of elevated iron including Parkinson's, Dementia, and more.
As for the heart???
Excess iron in your heart affects the heart's ability to circulate enough blood for your body's needs. This is called congestive heart failure.
As we get older, our production of heme decreases and this leads to iron accumulation as well as a host of other damaging agents.
This is partially behind the new research around blood donations and longevity effects.
To avoid the "healthy people donate blood" bias, researchers looked at mice. The effects were profound across multiple pathways.
The net net..
Scientists have shown that blood donation strongly affects skin aging in mice, probably by lowering the levels of toxic free iron
- collagen production - thickness of skin
- b-gal - a signature of senescent or "zombie" cells
- fiber content - a sign of skin structural integrity
So back to people even with adjustment for other healthy attributes...
After additional adjustment for the internal healthy donor effect, each additional annual donation was associated with a 7.5% decreased mortality risk 7.5% (95% CI, 5.7%-9.4%).
It was 18% total and 7.5% after balancing other health attributes.
From donating blood!!
So…are there ways to protect against excess iron?
Does CBD protect from excess iron?
We know that CBD supports our primary balancing system called the endocannabinoid system.
What about balancing iron?
A fascinating study broke it wide open with brain iron overload (extremely destructive).
Iron in the brain can lead to a range of issues with the mitochondria, and our cellular powerplants (more on mitochondria).
Cannabidiol (CBD) reversed iron-induced effects on mtDNA hydroxymethylation.
mtDNA is short for the DNA that makes our mitochondria. Essentially, excess iron is sabotaging our entire energy complex.
The study above showed how glutathione goes up after blood donations which makes sense.
Glutathione is our primary detox agent, and if mitochondria are malfunctioning, the glut will be eaten up!
CBD directly impacted the iron-management system:
Mitochondrial ferritin and succinate dehydrogenase activity were recovered by CBD.
As a reminder:
Iron accumulation in the brain has been recognized as a common feature of normal aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Cognitive dysfunction has been associated with iron excess in brain regions in humans
In fact, iron excess will lead to cell death…apoptosis.
And CBD's effect??
Iron increased Caspase 9, Cytochrome c, APAF1, Caspase 3 and cleaved PARP, without affecting cleaved Caspase 8 levels. CBD reversed iron-induced effects, recovering apoptotic proteins Caspase 9, APAF1, Caspase 3 and cleaved PARP to the levels found in controls.
Keep in mind that loss of these neurons is key to dementia, Parkinson's, and just plain age-related mental reduction.
This is quite exciting, and we look forward to more research.
Learn all about how the mitochondria are becoming the stars in longevity and mental health (see book, Brain Energy).
So…what about practical questions around CBD support?
How to support CBD's detox effects
We don't have hard research on how much CBD to support this iron damage pushback.
Peak levels would be 300mg which matches maximum neurogenesis (brain repair…the opposite of apoptosis from above).
Our estimate would be from 100mg to 300mg based on this ceiling.
See reviews on issues tied to iron overload:
What about the type of CBD?
What type of CBD reduces iron damage
We want zero THC since it can interfere with mitochondrial function (more on how CBD protects from THC).
Mitochondria may be at the heart of this whole effect since iron is used by them for energy production. Iron is what makes brown fat (increase in mitochondria)..."brown"!
We also want the basic requirements for CBD:
- Organically grown in the US at FDA-registered farms
- 3rd party tested
- CO2 cold processed
- Zero THC
- No solvents
- No heavy metals
- No pesticides
- No mold
- No bacteria
These are mandatory…especially the 3rd party testing part.
Full spectrum can cause a histamine response which is just the forward guard of the immune system's inflammatory response. That's going in the wrong direction.
CBD isolate has actually been shown to calm histamine and mast cell response (see CBD and histamine).
Other tools to look at for iron overload
Tumeric, quercetin, green tea, and resveratrol are other iron "chelaters" or removers with strong safety profiles.
These all have something in common with CBD…
They are players in the powerful SIRT pathway!
Why does that matter? Just this…
Sirtuin 2 regulates cellular iron homeostasis via deacetylation of transcription factor NRF2
So…SIRT2 is tasked with balancing iron levels and function.
SIRT activity goes down as we age with falling NAD function (SIRT's currency). CBD is a powerful SIRT player.
Keeping iron range-bound is appearing to be an exciting tool for both longevity and general health itself with big ramifications in the brain as we age!
Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!
The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.