Among the questions our ECHO specialists have received is whether cannabidiol (CBD) has any beneficial effect for thyroid conditions. Thanks to the thousands of studies conducted on CBD, scientists and medical professionals understand he therapeutic potential of the cannabinoid now more than ever. With that said, there’s still an urgent need for more studies investigating how the non-psychoactive compound can be applied therapeutically. The studies on cannabinoids and thyroid health are limited, but so far their findings do suggest that CBD may be helpful for normalizing thyroid conditions.
It’s first important to note that there have yet to be any clinical trials on CBD and thyroid disorders. Regulations and restrictions make it very difficult for investigators to study cannabinoids and that has lead to a lack of human research.
The promising findings regarding CBD and thyroid disorders have to do with what scientists have so far learned about cannabinoids and how they influence the body’s endocannabinoid system, a communication network vital to our overall well-being and health. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating balance in many of our processes, including thyroid function.
The endocannabinoid system is made up of several integrated mechanisms, one of which includes cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoids — including those synthesized naturally and those absorbed from plants like CBD — interact with these cannabinoid receptors to assist the system in its effort to maintain homeostasis.
Scientists have discovered that there are cannabinoid receptors located on cells on the thyroid gland. Cannabinoid receptors have also been identified within the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), an area of the brain that sends signals to the thyroid, regulating its activities.
The presence of cannabinoid receptors on the thyroid and in regions of the brain that send signals to the thyroid suggests that CBD and other cannabinoids can influence the health and performance of the gland. A 2009 study found that one particular type of cannabinoid receptor – cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) – directly influences the activity of the neurons that control the thyroid.
“The presence of both symmetric and asymmetric type CB1 synapses on [thyrotropin-releasing hormone-synthesizing] neurons in the [hypothalamic periventricular nucleus] suggests that endocannabinoids may influence both excitatory and inhibitory inputs of these neurons,” the researchers concluded in the study.
A 2002 animal study found evidence that CB1 receptors regulate the release of thyroid hormones tri-iodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), and that the administration of cannabinoids influenced the hormonal activity.
The study concluded: “These data indicate that functional CB1 receptors which are able to modulate the release of T3 and T4 are expressed in the rat thyroid, and suggest a possible role of cannabinoids in the regulation of rat thyroid hormonal activity.”
A 2015 study found that cannabinoid receptors could potentially serve as therapeutic targets for both malignant and benign thyroid lesions.
While it remains unclear how CBD’s influence on cannabinoid receptors may impact conditions like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, the presence of cannabinoid receptors and their influence on thyroid health and function suggests the cannabinoid may possibly have therapeutic application.
Evidence also suggests that CBD and other cannabinoids can be beneficial for managing the symptoms commonly associated with thyroid disorders, such as pain, depression, dry skin, inflammation, and anxiety.
You can learn more about CBD and its benefits by visiting our education page.
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