Glaucoma is an umbrella term that is used to refer to a variety of different eye disorders that eventually result in damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. The primary cause of glaucoma is a build up of pressure in the eyes, which can cause extreme, difficult to treat pain. New research into CBD for glaucoma, however, reveals that cannabidiol could potentially function as a highly effective new therapeutic treatment method.
The most common type of glaucoma is called open-angle glaucoma, followed by less common types of the condition such as closed-angle glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma. Most types of glaucoma develop slowly over an extended period of time and, if not treated, can result in complete loss of vision.
The symptoms of glaucoma, however, are similar across all different types of the condition. Individuals diagnosed with glaucoma typically experience symptoms such as severe eye pain, redness of the eye, blurred vision, dilated pupils, and nausea from chronic pain.
Worryingly, the vision loss caused by glaucoma is permanent, making it an extremely time-sensitive medical condition. The factors that contribute to the development and progression of glaucoma include genetic factors, eye pressure, and high blood pressure.
Glaucoma affects more than 2 million people in the United States alone, and up to 67 million people worldwide. Treatments used to combat glaucoma vary, but often include the use of glaucoma medications such as prostaglandin analogs and beta blockers.
Although these medications are able to minimize the health impact and vision loss caused by glaucoma, they are known to cause a wide range of unwanted side effects such as changes in eye color and skin tone, stinging eyes, eye redness and burning, eye itching, low blood pressure, fatigue, difficulty breathing, reduced libido, and depression.
CBD, however, has recently emerged as a potential therapeutic treatment for glaucoma that can address many of the symptoms of the condition. Clinical evidence supporting the use of CBD for glaucoma is contradictory, with a large body of supportive evidence at odds with newer research that indicates CBD could potentially exacerbate the condition.
CBD is able to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and assist with the management of the chronic pain caused by glaucoma. Some research, however, indicates that CBD could potentially increase the intraocular pressure that causes glaucoma.
In this article, we’ll assess the potential benefits versus the potential negative impact of CBD on glaucoma and find out how cannabidiol interacts with the human body. We’ll examine the scientific evidence both for and against the use of CBD for glaucoma, and break down the clinical evidence supporting each position. Lastly, we’ll investigate the best CBD oil for glaucoma and other products, as well as potential dosage options.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural compound that is found in the cannabis, or hemp plant. CBD is a cannabinoid compound, one of many different cannabinoids that can be extracted from hemp, and is used to create a wide range of powerful and effective natural health products that are backed up by extensive scientific evidence.
CBD is generally available in the from of CBD oil, or other health products that contain CBD. There are many different dosage and administration options when it comes to CBD — some products contain specific cannabinoid isolates, while other “full spectrum” products contain a complex mix of different health-promoting phytocannabinoids extracted from the hemp plant.
CBD and other cannabinoids are unique in that they are able to interact with the human body through the endocannabinoid system. Every human and every vertebrate organism on the plant possesses a built-in endocannabinoid system, which consists of both cannabinoid receptors and “endogenous” cannabinoids that are made by the body itself.
In humans, the endocannabinoid system is closely linked to the function and health of a wide range of bodily functions. These functions include the immune system, the peripheral and central nervous systems, cardiovascular health, the digestive system, and the brain.
CBD may be extracted from the cannabis plant, but it is very different from THC, which is the psychoactive compound associated with the recreational uses of cannabis. Unlike THC, cannabidiol and other cannabinoids are not psychoactive, which means that they do not induce the “high” that is typically associated with marijuana use.
Until recently, clinical research into the potential health benefits of CBD has been sparse. The relaxation of cannabis laws in the United States over the last decade, however, has catalyzed a new wave of clinical research investigating the ways in which cannabinoids interact with the human body, revealing surprising results.
Cannabidiol has been proven in hundreds of different clinical trials to interact with and modulate thousands of different biological processes in the human body. This allows CBD to deliver benefits that can improve the health of individuals that have been diagnosed with a wide range of conditions and diseases.
CBD is able to prevent seizures, lower inflammation, treat depression and PTSD, help the body heal faster, promote better sleep, increase the uptake of nutrients and improve the health of the gastrointestinal tract, modulate immune system response, and even protect the body from a number of specific types of cancer.
Some of the health benefits delivered by CBD, however, make it a possible treatment solution for glaucoma. Medical marijuana is a common treatment for glaucoma in the United States, but research into the health impact of CBD has identified it as a potential novel therapeutic treatment for the condition.
How Does CBD Work?
The main way through which CBD provides powerful health benefits is by modulating the endocannabinoid system of the human body. CBD could potentially with the management and prevention of glaucoma by interacting with the human endocannabinoid system in order to reduce blood pressure, which is a contributing factor in the pathogenesis of the condition.
There are two ways in which CBD has been hypothesized to assist with the treatment of glaucoma. Firstly, CBD is able to minimize inflammation. Inflammation is linked to the development of thousands of different health conditions and diseases, and has been observed to exacerbate glaucoma.
When cannabidiol enters the human body, it begins to work in synergy with the endocannabinoid system. The human endocannabinoid system is made up of cannabinoid receptors to which endogenous cannabinoids which are made inside of the body pair.
Cannabinoids such as cannabidiol are able to interact with the same cannabinoid receptors that endogenous cannabinoids pair with, with an important difference. Exogenous cannabinoids that come from outside the human body, such as CBD, are actually able to bond with cannabinoid receptors in a stronger and more effective manner than endogenous cannabinoids.
When CBD interacts with endocannabinoid system receptors, a cascade of chemical messages proliferates throughout the human body and causes a wide range of biological changes. One of the most important changes occurs in the immune system.
CBD is able to lower the inflammatory response of the human immune system, thereby potentially helping to minimize the progression of glaucoma.
Secondly, cannabidiol is able to lower blood pressure. The blood pressure levels of the human body is a noted contributing factor to the development of glaucoma — high blood pressure levels are known to significantly worsen glaucoma.
Just one single dose of CBD has been observed in clinical trials to dramatically lower overall blood pressure levels, which could potentially help to minimize the progress of glaucoma.
There are many different ways CBD can be administered. CBD oil for glaucoma is a common use of the compound despite conflicting clinical data, with many individuals self-reporting dramatic improvements in the condition.
Other CBD products that can be used to minimize inflammation and lower blood pressure include CBD topical solutions, CBD vape pens, CBD gummies, CBD edibles, and even more unique health products such as CBD soaps or CBD-infused MCT cooking oil.
Can CBD Help With Glaucoma?
One of the most obvious ways in which CBD could potentially assist individuals that have been diagnosed with glaucoma is with pain management. Glaucoma is known to cause debilitating pain on a regular basis, often inducing chronic pain conditions.
Traditional medical treatments for the chronic pain induced by glaucoma involve the use of pharmaceutical pain medications that are known to cause a wide range of side effects as well as dependency
CBD, however, has been clinically proven to dramatically lower the negative impact of chronic pain and, in some cases, even completely eliminate chronic pain conditions.
There are a number of clinically proven health benefits provided by CBD that could potentially help with the management and treatment of glaucoma.
CBD health benefits for glaucoma:
- Minimized inflammatory
- Lower blood pressure levels
- Decreased chronic pain
- Improved immune system function
- Potential positive impact on intraocular eye pressure
Intraocular eye pressure is the primary cause of glaucoma, but whether or not CBD improves or worsens this pressure is currently a matter for debate. Some clinical evidence indicates that CBD is able to minimize intraocular eye pressure, while other data demonstrates that CBD could actually increase intraocular eye pressure,
The Science Behind CBD and Glaucoma
The science behind the use of cannabidiol for glaucoma is contradictory. Several clinical studies show that CBD is able to minimize overall intraocular pressure, while other investigations state that it could potentially increase it.
The science that outlines the way glaucoma is able to minimize inflammation and reduce the impact of chronic pain, however, is extensively documented.
At a fundamental level, inflammation in the human body is caused by proteins called cytokines. These proteins are created as part of the immune system function, and are also responsible for the pathophysiological pain associated with inflammatory health conditions.
CBD has been demonstrated in multiple clinical trials to reduce the overall amount of cytokines in the blood directly after dosing, resulting in significantly reduced inflammation.
The way CBd interacts with specific neural pathways in the brain allows it to deliver powerful pain management benefits. Clinical investigations assessing the pain minimization benefits of cannabidiol have revealed that CBD is able to modulate a receptor in the brain called the 5-HT1A receptor.
This receptor is closely linked to the release and reuptake of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that is associated with mood balance and pain response. By modulating specific neural pathways, CBD is able to provide powerful analgesic properties that make it a highly effective anti-pain solution.
The pain minimization benefits of cannabidiol are free from the side effects and dependency caused by traditional pain medications used to treat glaucoma, making CBD a potential alternative therapeutic solution for chronic pain induced by the condition.
There is currently a large body of clinical evidence assessing the effectiveness of CBD in treating glaucoma and the symptoms it causes. Clinical evidence supporting the use of CBD as a pain management solution is relatively straightforward, but the evidence either for or against the use of CBD for glaucoma is more complex and contradictory.
Scientific evidence supporting the use of CBD as a novel pain management solution can be found in a clinical study published in the Dovepress Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management medical journal in 2008.
The clinical investigation identified several mechanisms of action through which CBD is able to deliver a powerful and fast-acting analgesic effect without causing any unwanted side effects. The investigation notes that in addition to providing pain management benefits, CBD also deliver a range of secondary health benefits that improve the overall health of the human body.
Evidence supporting the use of CBD in order to lower blood pressure levels can be found in a clinical investigation published in a 2017 edition of the American Society for Clinical Investigation medical journal.
The CBD blood pressure clinical trial administered a relatively high dose of 600mg of CBD to participants that had been previously diagnosed with high blood pressure. Subsequent to dosage, participants were then guided through a number of cardiovascular exercise and stress tests.
The clinical trial found that a single dose of CBD is able to significantly reduce blood pressure, presenting it as a potential alternative therapeutic treatment for high blood pressure health conditions such as hypertension.
Specific clinical investigations into the potential application of CBD for glaucoma have been conducted. An early 2008 clinical investigation assessing the overall pharmacological impact of compounds derived from the cannabis plant — both CBD and THC — found that cannabinoids are able to effectively lower intraocular eye pressure, presenting cannabinoids as a potential novel treatment for glaucoma.
An interesting clinical investigation into the effect of CBD-enriched eye drops was performed in 2018. The trial provided 5 patients with intractable hypertensive open angle glaucoma with CBD eye drops and found that the eye drops have a positive overall impact on intraocular eye pressure. The study did not use CBD-only solutions, however, instead using CBD products that contained high levels of THC.
Why CBD for Glaucoma Doesn't Work
CBD may be able to minimize the symptoms of glaucoma, but there is a growing body of clinical evidence that indicates CBD may not be the best solution for treating the condition.
A clinical investigation performed in 2006 conducted a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled, 4 way crossover study on the impact of CBD on glaucoma. Participants in the trial were administered with a range of doses from 20mg of CBD, 40mg of CBD, a placebo, or 5mg of THC.
The results of the clinical trial were extremely interesting — THC was revealed to actually decrease intraocular eye pressure, while 20mg of CBD provided no change either way. 40mg of CBD, however, was revealed to cause a transient increase in intraocular eye pressure, which is not a positive outcome for the condition.
Current research into the impact of CBD on glaucoma indicates that small doses of CBD may have no effect on the condition, but higher doses of CBD definitely have a negative impact. In the case of glaucoma, THC — the psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant — is the phytocannabinoid compound that is able to deliver health benefits specific to the condition.
CBD Dosage for Glaucoma
CBD dosage is generally a very subjective matter, with a number of factors such as body weight, individual preferences, metabolic rate, and the specific type of health condition being treated changing the required dose dramatically.
For glaucoma, however, doses higher than 20mg have been demonstrated in clinical trials to have a net negative impact on intraocular eye pressure. For this reason, it is not advisable to dose at levels higher than 20mg daily when conducting CBD self-care for glaucoma.
Many individuals conducting CBD self-care for chronic pain, such as the pain induced by glaucoma, find that doses of less than 20mg per day are effective in minimizing the symptoms of chronic pain. It is possible that a dose of CBD that does not cause intraocular inflammation but still provides relief from chronic pain may be identified in further clinical trials.
Intraocular pressure is a major contributing factor in the development of glaucoma. For this reason, it is critical that any individual considering using CBD to treat the symptoms of the condition first consult with their doctor or a medical professional before beginning any treatment program.
Best CBD Products for Glaucoma
As CBD has been demonstrated to potentially worsen the factors that contribute to glaucoma, there are very few CBD products that could possibly assist with the condition.
THC, however, has been proven to significantly improve intraocular eye pressure, especially when combined with small amounts of CBD.
Thus, the best cannabinoid products that could potentially be used to treat glaucoma are likely to be tinctures. CBD tinctures are not sold in every US state and are difficult to find in international countries that do not possess forward-leaning medical marijuana laws, as they contain THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis.
Tinctures are often associated with the “entourage effect,” a hypothesis that CBD and other health-enhancing compounds derived from the cannabis plant are far more effective when taken as a whole, rather than isolates of specific compounds.
There is a significant amount of clinical evidence supporting the use of THC to treat glaucoma, and a small amount of clinical evidence supporting the use of very small amounts of CBD to treat the chronic pain and other symptoms caused by the condition.
In most cases, CBD is a very safe natural compound. There have been no clinically observed or reported instances of CBD causing a toxic reaction — extremely high doses of CBD up to 1500mg have been well tolerated in multiple clinical trials.
CBD, however, could potentially exacerbate glaucoma or other health conditions that are impacted by increased intraocular eye pressure. For this reason, it is essential that any individual that has been diagnosed with glaucoma first consult with their doctor before beginning CBD treatment.
In addition to potentially worsening the progression of glaucoma, CBD is known to cause a number of mild side effects.
CBD Side Effects:
- Mild sedation
- Mild lower blood pressure
- Reduced fertility
- Dry mouth
- Reduced cytokine levels
CBD has also been observed to reduce the effectiveness of specific types of prescription or pharmaceutical medications due to the inhibition of a specific enzyme required to metabolize them.
These drugs include:
Q: What is CBD?
A: CBD is a naturally-occurring compound that is extracted from the cannabis plant. When CBD enters the human body, it modulates the endocannabinoid system and, in most cases, causes a wide range of health benefits.
Q: Is CBD legal?
A: CBD is a legal health treatment that is available over the counter without prescription in most US states. This legality is due to the fact that CBD contains no psychoactive compounds. CBD tinctures, which can potentially assist with the management of glaucoma, are not legal in states that do not have favorable medical marijuana laws.
Q: Is CBD a good treatment for glaucoma?
A: CBD may be able to minimize the side effects of glaucoma, but could make the overall progress of the condition worsen in doses over 40mg
Q: Doe CBD cure glaucoma?
A: CBD does not cure glaucoma, and has been indicated in some clinical trials to potentially worsen the condition
Q: Is CBD safe?
A: CBD is not known to cause any negative health impact apart from mild low blood pressure and increased intraocular pressure at doses over 40mg.