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    by Sebastiano Battaglia December 29, 2023 15 min read

     

    CBD and omega-3 fatty acids are two powerful natural compounds that can have a positive impact on health. Omega-3’s have anti-inflammatory properties, and provide essential fatty acids for the body and brain, while CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory and calming effects.

     

    TL;DR

    • CBD and omega - 3 fatty acids work together to improve overall wellbeing, from mental health to reducing inflammation associated with chronic illnesses.
    • A balanced endocannabinoid system is essential for the proper functioning of physiological processes such as inflammation, metabolism, cell proliferation, and more.
    • The combination of CBD and omega 3s can provide even more profound benefits by enhancing endocannabinoid synthesis.
    • This combination may enhance cognitive function & mood regulation, while potentially improving heart health through reduced inflammation response.

     

    How CBD and Omega-3 Fatty Acids Work Together

     

    Omega-3s are broken down into several compounds by your body, and some of them become natural activators of the endocannabinoid system. That's where the magic crosstalk between the two compounds. In this blog post, we'll look at how they work together, from mental health to reducing inflammation associated with chronic illnesses.

     

    Role of the endocannabinoid system

     

    The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex network of receptors, enzymes, and signaling molecules that mediate the body's physiological processes in response to different stimuli.

    It plays a critical role in modulating processes such as inflammation, metabolism, cell proliferation and differentiation, memory formation and more. Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the body from skin cells to organs; two main categories being cannabinoid 1 (CB1) found mainly in the brain and central nervous system and cannabinoid 2 (CB2), mainly present in immune cells.

    CBD interacts with these receptors by binding with them or by inhibiting their activity via receptor desensitization or G-protein coupling inhibition - ultimately leading to changes at key locations within the CNS such as pain control centers or neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation like dopamine.

    Omega-3 fatty acids have similar effects on receptor function – enhancing CB2 action for example – but also act independently of CB receptors when metabolized into bioactive metabolites known as eicosanoids which possess pro-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory properties dependent on how they’re structured.

     

    Importance of a balance between omega-3s and endocannabinoids

    The endocannabinoid system is involved in a vast array of physiological processes throughout the body, and it relies on an optimal balance between omega-3 fatty acids and endocannabinoids for proper functioning.

     

    Synthesis of Endogenous Cannabinoids

    Endogenous cannabinoids such as anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) are synthesized from fatty acids. An enzyme called NAPE-PLD synthesizes AEA from its precursor N-arachidonoyl phosphatidylethanolamine (NAPE), which is derived from the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid.The synthesis of 2-AG primarily occurs through a two-step enzymatic process involving phospholipase Cβ (PLCβ) and diacylglycerol lipase (DAGL).

    Omega-3 fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are metabolized into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the body. The main site for the synthesis of EPA and DHA from ALA is the liver, and the conversion rate is approximately 8% for EPA and 1% for DHA. 

    Alpha linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the primary omega-3 fatty acids and having their double bond in the ω-3(carbon-3) position and are in cis-configuration. ALA acid is the dietary-essential precursor of EPA and DHA and the main site for the synthesis of EPA and DHA from ALA is liver and the rate of conversion is about 8% for EPA and 1% for DHA (PharmaNutrition Volume 10, December 2019, 100162)

    The process involves a series of enzymatic reactions, including desaturation and elongation, which occur in the liver. Although ALA is the dietary-essential precursor of EPA and DHA, the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is limited in humans. Additionally, EPA and DHA can also be obtained directly from marine sources, such as fish and algae3. Once synthesized, EPA and DHA can be further metabolized into bioactive compounds, including endocannabinoids, which can bind to cannabinoid receptors and exert various physiological effects

    Supplementing with polyunsaturated lipids –particularly EPA & DHA– not only boosts the availability of substrates, but also enhances homeostatic processes controlled by cannabinoid receptors; aiding in modulating proinflammatory immune responses to reduce swelling & alleviate certain types of pains caused by joint dysfunctions among other potential benefits such as improved mental clarity & mood regulation after long bouts dealing with excessive depression symptoms due their natural anti-anxiety effects.

     

    Understanding the Types of Omega-3s and their Benefits

     

    EPA and DHA

    EPA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids found naturally in oily fish, such as salmon, tuna, and sardines. These essential nutrients are crucial for cell health and development because of their anti-inflammatory properties.

    They play a key role in controlling inflammation throughout the body - including our blood vessels, brain cells, immune system, endocrine glands, organs like the liver and kidney - to name just a few examples.

    EPA is known for its ideal physical properties such as high solubility index which makes it easier to break down into smaller molecules that can be utilized by the body more easily than other types of fats or carbohydrates sourced from food negatively affects the efficacy if consumed unevenly with other Omega 3 Fatty Acids.

    Research has suggested that regular intake of EPA and DHA can reduce risk factors for heart disease by contributing to healthy cholesterol levels while helping prevent blood clot formation in arteries.

    Additionally, studies have linked both EPA and DHA to improved maintenance of normal cognitive function; evidence also points to their roles in reducing depressive symptoms associated with mental illnesses.

    ALA

    Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is a precursor for the ω-3 endocannabinoid epoxides, EEQ-EA and EDP-EA. This fatty acid plays an essential role in our body’s physiology, as it can be converted into anti-inflammatory endocannabinoid epoxides in our bodies.

    The macronutrient helps keep cell membranes functioning properly by acting as producible lipids in signaling molecules that interact with cannabinoid receptors found throughout the nervous system of mammals.

    Results from studies have indicated that ALA promotes the production of BDNF which assists with neuronal plasticity while also helping to protect us against degenerative diseases within the brain due to its abundance of phenolic acids, oils, fibers, and transplants antioxidants that have a protective effect on neurons cells.

    Additionally, dietitians suggest consuming foods high or abundant in ALA like hemp seeds or chia seeds for their potential benefits involving mental health, such as improved memory cognition and decreased depression symptoms.

     

    Benefits of Taking CBD with Omega-3 Supplements

    Blending CBD with omega-3s has the potential to optimize a range of physiological functions, including improved cognitive function and mental health, reduced inflammation and better management of chronic conditions.

     

    Enhanced endocannabinoid synthesis

    The beneficial effects of products containing cannabinoids, such as hemp derived CBD oil, and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in fish oil, are well established. The lesser known facts instead focus on how their combination can offer even greater benefits by enhancing endocannabinoid synthesis.

    Our bodies' production of endocannabinoids is further augmented when consuming both omega-3s from fish oils and compounds like CBD derived from hemp or marijuana plants. A study from 2021 on the endocannabinoid system and its regulation by polyunsaturated fatty acids and full spectrum hemp oils provides clinical evidence linking polyunsaturated fatty acids and cannabinoids to changes in the endocannabinoid system tone, supporting the interplay between omega-3s and cannabinoids in modulating physiological functions.

    Dietary PUFAs are major sources for the biosynthesis of endocannabinoids,both by contribution of omega-6 fatty acids to the arachidonic biosynthesis pathway and modulation of the ECS tone by dietary omega-3 EPA and DHA esterified to phospholipids [...] The role of multiple cannabinoids in the integrated and often opposing control of these outcomes may be considered direct evidence in favor of developing novel strategies that deliver appropriate quantities and ratios of different metabolites found in full-spectrum hemp oils and provide a more discriminating means of eliciting a balanced and personalized response. (Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(11), 5479)

    Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in promoting endocannabinoid synthesis due to their proprietary ability to reduce inflammatory molecules known as arachidonic acid metabolites or AAPs.

    For example, these anti-inflammatory molecules help ease the burden exerted by chronic inflammations states, which often lead to inflammatory diseases like arthritis or Crohn's disease. Additionally, they enable faster recovery times for those suffering from physical activities demanding higher amounts of energy expenditure, such as hard workouts or intense sports competitions.

     

    Benefits of Combining Hemp Oil and Omega-3 Fish Oil

    why cbd and omega 3 fatty acid work together mbp

    There is data indicating that CBD and omega-3 work together thanks to how their cellular signals interact within the cell. When they bind to receptors in the central nervous system and in other tissues, there are able to improve your overall health by holistically addressing issues that affect your physical and mental balance.  

    Improved Mental Health

    Combining CBD with Omega-3 fatty acids has been gaining traction recently as a viable approach to improving mental health. Emerging research indicates that the two substances may work together in regulating cell signaling, modulating neurotransmitters such as dopamine, and controlling inflammation—all of which are important for managing and ameliorating certain mental health conditions.

    A study from 2022 published in the European Journal of Neuroscience reports that:

    Current evidence supports the potential of CBD and omega-3 as effective regulators of DA activity and promising treatment options for neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety disorders, addiction, and schizophrenia. [...] Furthermore, there are currently no psychoactive and addictive properties associated with CBD whereas omega-3 are essential fatty acids. The favourable safety profiles further highlight the potential of CBD, omega-3, and PPAR agonists and raises the possibility for fast translation toward future clinical treatments (Eur J Neurosci. 2022 Feb;55(4):1088-1100)

    Overall, while more studies are needed to understand exactly how this happens, there are indications that the combination of CBD with supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids supplements could have a beneficial effectagainst conditions such as depression and anxiety.

    Reduced inflammation and pain

    CBD and Omega 3 fatty acids have the potential to work together to reduce inflammation in the body. 

    CBD interacts with the ECS by binding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB2 is the receptor that can regulate immune cells, therefore, in the presence of CBD or other endocannabinoids it can effectively reduce inflammation. This is done by modulating immune cell recruitment, cytokine production, tissue repair, blood vessel function and hormonal balance.

    When used together, CBD and omega-3s may help support those affected by systemic autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, in addition to many other forms of chronic acute pain. We previously described the role of CBD in reducing joint inflammation in humans, in dogs with arthritis pain, and in cats with painful conditions. 

    Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids actually have many of the same benefits or many CBD products. A study published in 2009 in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage demonstrates how omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can reduce the inflammation and degradation caused by osteoarthritis.

    it seems most likely that n-3 PUFAs can have a beneficial effect on the inflammation and cartilage degradation associated with OA in several ways. Moreover, our results in showing the relative efficacy of EPA in such situations provides a molecular mechanism to justify conclusions drawn from dietary studies.(Osteoarthritis and Cartilage (2009) 17)

    In addition to the above evidence, A meta study in the journal Pain also indicates how omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can reduce pain and discomfort associated with arthritis-related conditions.

    the results of the present meta-analysis, examining omega-3 PUFA supplementation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or joint pain secondary to inflammatory bowel disease and dysmenorrhea, suggest that EPA/DHA supplementation reduces patient assessed joint pain intensity, morning stiffness, number of painful and/or tender joints, and NSAID consumption (Pain. 2007 May;129(1-2):210-23)

    Overall wellness

    The potential benefits of using CBD with Omega-3s expand to various aspects. As described in a review paper published in 2014, dietary omega-3 help in lowering blood triglycerides, kidney functions, cardiovascular health and neurological fitness are all aspects of health and wellness that can benefit from the presence of omega-3 essential fatty acids. 

    A large part of this is due to how fatty acids interact with the body's endocannabinoid system, that can help regulate physiological functions improving the brain and body balance of existing endocannabinoids.  

    Not only can taking a CBD/omega 3 supplement help decrease triglyceride levels in one's bloodstream, it can also lead to an increase in good cholesterol or HDL values - both important factors for cardiovascular wellbeing.

     

    How to Incorporate CBD and Omega-3s into Your Routine

    While CBD is not naturally found in significant quantities in common food sources, omega-3s are much easier to come by. Everyone knows that some foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are part of our daily diet, and include nuts, soybeans, shellfish and fatty fish. Whether they come from diet or supplements, the benefits are still going to be there, yet, eating healthy foods should always be your first choice. After all, the correct term is "food for mood", and not "supplements for mood"!

    Our favorite omega-3 food sources

    Food Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 Type Other Nutrients
    Salmon 2.3g DHA, EPA Protein, Vitamin D
    Mackerel 3.5g DHA, EPA Vitamin D, Selenium
    Sardines 1.5g DHA, EPA Vitamin D, Calcium
    Walnuts 9.1g ALA Fiber, Protein
    Chia Seeds 17.8g ALA Fiber, Protein
    Flaxseeds 22.8g ALA Fiber, Protein
    Soybeans 1.7g ALA Protein, Fiber
    Canola Oil 9.1g ALA Vitamin E
    Omega-3 Enriched Eggs 0.3-0.5g DHA, EPA Protein, Vitamin D
    Hemp Seeds 9.8g ALA Protein, Iron
    Seaweed and Algae 2.4g DHA, EPA Iodine, Vitamin K
    Omega-3 Fortified Foods Varies Varies Varies

    Choosing the right supplements

    Before getting into what supplements may be right, it is important to understand that they are not all the same. Two of the most common supplements that you can find over the counter are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and both exist naturally in fish oil. Both are long chains associated with a wide variety of healing benefits, including improved cognition and emotional wellbeing, as well as better protection from cardiovascular disease.

    The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are essential for proper fetal development, and supplementation during pregnancy has also been linked to decreased immune responses in infants including decreased incidence of allergies in infants. Omega-3 fatty acid consumption has been associated with improved cardiovascular function in terms of antiinflammatory properties, PAD, reduced major coronary events, and improved antiplatelet effects in the face of aspirin resistance or clopidogrel hyporesponsiveness. (Adv Nutr. 2012 Jan; 3(1): 1–7)

    Another option in terms of supplements is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). ALA is an essential fatty acid due to its ability to convert into EPA and DHA. However, this conversion only occurs at low rates, so vegetarians or individuals allergic to fish must rely on non-fish sources such as nuts and plant oils for their intake of ALA. It is available as a supplement in various forms, and it is also present in low quantities in meats. 

    There is also an array of alternative products and foods that contain omega 3s, and you can use as supplements. This includes things like algae oil, avocado oil, oysters, edamame, krill oil, or cod liver oil. The choice is yours, you can use oils vs eat foods that contain good fatty acids. Whatever your choice is, it will be a good step towards health.

     

    Recommended Dosages For CDB Oil and Omega 3 Fatty Acids

    Any over the counter product, whether that's CBD or fish oil supplement, is designed so that you can easily follow a specific dosage, and the labels should tell you everything you need to know to stay on the safe side. In the case of CBD and Omega-3 fatty acids, it is important to find the right balance between the two.

    Omega 3 supplements

    In terms of Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, there are two primary types: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is also available but less commonly found over the counter. 

    The National Institute of Health has a reference table extracted from a report published in 2002 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The table breaks down the needed amount by age and sex, with special indications to be considered during pregnancy and lactation. The full page of the NIH from where I took the table below is available on the NIH website.

     
    Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
    Birth to 6 months* 0.5 g 0.5 g
    7–12 months* 0.5 g 0.5 g
    1–3 years** 0.7 g 0.7 g
    4–8 years** 0.9 g 0.9 g
    9–13 years** 1.2 g 1.0 g
    14–18 years** 1.6 g 1.1 g 1.4 g 1.3 g
    19–50 years** 1.6 g 1.1 g 1.4 g 1.3 g
    51+ years** 1.6 g 1.1 g

     

    Now, since the health benefits of CBD and omega 3s extend to pets, below you can find a simplified version of the dosing table reported on the Canine Arthritis Resources and Education (CARE) website. The full version is available on their website.

    Body weight (lbs) Body weight (Kg) Recommended Daily Dose (100 mg/kg) Maximum Daily Dose
    5 2.3 230 mg 574 mg
    10 4.5 450 mg 965 mg
    20 9.1 910 mg 1623 mg
    40 18.2 1820 mg 2730 mg
    60 27.3 2730 mg 3700 mg
    80 36.4 3640 mg 4590 mg
    100 45.5 4550 mg 5427 mg
    120 54.5 5450 mg 6222 mg
    140 63.6 6360 mg 6985 mg

    CBD Supplements

    When choosing CBD supplements specifically, there are generally three different forms: oil drops placed under one’s tongue; capsule form taken through oral ingestion; and topical creams applied directly on the skin.

    The level of bioavailability (ability for active ingredients to reach systemic circulation) varies among these forms – sublingual oils deliver the most potent dose while ingestible capsules offer low bioavailability but could be a suitable option for those who want more consistent results from taking their CBD daily regardless of body metabolism or current diet.

    Overall, for pets, a starting dose of 1-2 mg per 10 lb of body weight is a safe starting point. After monitoring the results, and making sure that there are no side effects, increasing it to 6-8 mg per 10lb of body weight is still possible. 

     

    Possible side effects

    Supplementing with CBD and omega-3s can be beneficial; however, you will still affect receptors in your nervous system that not only regulate pain and inflammation, but many other physiological functions.

    While well tolerated in both humans and animals, potential side effects of CBD include diarrhea, reduced appetite, fatigue, sedation, or drowsiness. Taking too much CBD may also increase the risk of liver toxicity.

    Additionally, long-term use may result in a dry mouth or skin irritation in some individuals. It is also important to bear in mind that as an unregulated supplement, not all products are created equal; consequently, doses might vary significantly from brand to brand.

    For that reason, It is always advisable to consult a doctor or healthcare professional before combining CBD and Omega-3s into your daily routine. An experienced medical practitioner can assess individual needs, evaluate potential interactions between supplements and any other medications taken, help you pick the right supplement, recommend appropriate dosages, provide guidance for pregnant and lactating individuals as well as diagnose any underlying health issues or allergies that might interfere with any potential benefit.

     

    Conclusion

    CBD and Omega-3 fatty acids can bind with cannabinoid receptors that are part of a signaling network called the endocannabinoid system. They both have proven benefits for a good deal of health problems, from pain management to psychological issues. Clinical research suggests that these two nutrients may provide a powerful synergistic effect when taken together, as the endocannabinoid system works in tandem with EPA and DHA to reduce inflammation, improve mental health, and support general wellbeing.

     

    FAQs

    Q: What is the meaning of CBD and why is its oil important?

    A: CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a compound found in the cannabis plant. The oil derived from this compound, known as CBD oil, is growing in popularity due to its potential health benefits. It plays a critical role in maintaining balance throughout the body—a stable internal state despite changes in the external environment. CBD oil works by interacting with the endocannabinoid receptors within the body, helping cells to perform certain functions.

    Q: How does CBD and Omega-3 work together?

    A: Both CBD and Omega-3 play an essential role in maintaining the functioning of your endocannabinoid system. Research on CBD suggests that it might promote the synthesis of omega-3 endocannabinoids - compounds that bind to the cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system in response to brain activity. These endocannabinoids will then bind to the endocannabinoid cell membrane receptors within the body, enhancing overall performance.

    Q: What are the health benefits of CBD oil?

    A: The health benefits of CBD oil are currently being researched, but potential benefits include pain relief, reduced inflammation, improved mental well-being, and aiding the treatment of various neurological and mental health disorders. CBD oil works through interaction with the body's endocannabinoid system.

    Q: How does oil vs. capsule intake of CBD and Omega-3 impact their effectiveness?

    A: Both forms of intake have their pros and cons, and effectiveness can vary person-to-person. The oil form may provide faster and more efficient absorption into the bloodstream, providing quicker benefits. However, capsules offer the advantage of ensuring accurate dosage and might be a more comfortable option for those who dislike the taste of the oils.

    Q: Is CBD oil effective for pain management?

    A: Yes, one of the main reasons for the growing popularity of CBD oil is its potential for pain relief. By interacting with endocannabinoid receptors in the body, it may aid in managing various types of pain. Nonetheless, it's advised to consult a doctor before starting any new treatment.

    Q: How does CBD oil work within the body?

    A: CBD oil works by interacting with endocannabinoid cell membrane receptors within the body, which act as anchors for endocannabinoids. This interaction plays a crucial role in maintaining balance throughout the body, helping to model a stable internal state despite changes in the external environment.

    Q: Can taking CBD oil increase the synthesis of Omega-3 endocannabinoids?

    A: Research on CBD suggests that taking CBD oil might promote the synthesis of Omega-3 endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids play an important role in the overall functioning of the endocannabinoid system, which helps in maintaining the body's internal balance.

    Q: What does the term "endocannabinoid receptors" mean?

    A: Endocannabinoid receptors are a type of cell membrane receptor within the body and are part of the endocannabinoid system. They act as anchors for endocannabinoids, and play a significant role in maintaining internal balance throughout the body.

    Q: How does CBD influence brain activity?

    A: CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system, which have a role in modulating brain activity. The endocannabinoids will then bind themselves to these receptors, which can potentially influence brain functions such as mood, sleep, appetite, and more.

    Q: Should I consult a doctor before starting any new treatment with CBD oil?

    A: Yes, consulting with a doctor before starting any new treatment is always recommended. While the benefits of CBD oil are promising, individual bodies can react differently, and a healthcare professional could provide personalized advice based on your medical history and current medications.

    Sebastiano Battaglia
    Sebastiano Battaglia

    Seb has been a research scientist for the past two decades and is the founder and owner of My Blissful Pet. Seb grew up with cats and dogs and married his passion for science and animals with My Blissful Pet by wanting to help dogs and cats live healthier lives.

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