Literally speaking, antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation. But what does that mean? Oxidation is a process where reactions involving oxygen result in the generation of free radicals. Free radicals can be dangerous because they are highly reactive and they have the potential to cause damage when they come into contact with important cellular components such as DNA. Free radicals are reactive because they have a single (unpaired) electron in their outer shells, a very unstable condition. Thus, they “react” with other molecules by stripping electrons away from their molecules in order to allow the unpaired electron to have a mate, thus changing the chemical structure of the other molecule.
Antioxidants have extra electrons. So they are able to donate one of their extra electrons to the free radical, thus neutralizing it and rendering it harmless. Since reactions driven by oxygen are necessary for us to survive (yet they also produce free radicals), our bodies have many antioxidants that work as important defense mechanisms against the production of free radicals. For example, vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and beta-carotene are common antioxidants used by the body to fight free radicals.
CBD is actually a more powerful antioxidant than either vitamin E or vitamin C. CBD’s anti-oxidant properties are part of what makes it good at neuroprotection, especially since the production of excess free radicals plays a role in many neurological disorders from Alzheimer’s Disease to Parkinson’s Disease.
One way that CBD acts as an antioxidant is by its ability to increase a cell’s production of superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase is an important enzyme for breaking down one common free radical called a superoxide radical. As a cell makes more superoxide dismutase enzyme, it becomes better protected against free radicals that arise from oxygen metabolism. A cell exposed to too many free radicals may undergo cell death (called apoptosis).
CBD can also reduce the toxicity and oxidative stress caused by hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a harmful byproduct produced as part of the metabolism of oxygen, and hydrogen peroxide itself can be broken down to release free radicals.
In summary, CBD’s antioxidant abilities help it to protect cells in the body and increase their survival by inhibiting the production of free radicals and by increasing the ability of a cell to deal with free radicals that are produced. Since free radicals can damage cells and fragment DNA, CBD is essentially preventing cell death and DNA damage. You can order a bottle of hemp oil from Wai Natural and start experiencing the antioxidant properties of CBD for yourself!