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Mad Cow Disease & CBD Oil: Research & Controversy on Neuroprotective Uses

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) aka mad cow disease is an illness found in cows that can be spread to humans through the consumption of tainted meat. This is a fast-acting, progressive neurological disease which causes brain damage that eventually ends in death. Mad cow disease is categorized under other prion diseases and is also known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in humans.

Due to CBD’s neuroprotective properties, researchers have been looking at CBD oil to see if it can help slow the progression of this devastating disease.

Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Mad Cow Disease

Unfortunately, there is no truly effective treatment for mad cow disease. Researchers have been looking into a variety of different compounds that have potential treatment applications, but nothing conclusive has been found to date.

Quinacrine and Pentosan polysulfate sodium (PPS) are just a few such compounds researchers think may have potential in treating mad cow disease. Both initially showed some potential as treatment, but results of further studies have proven disappointing. Quinacrine and PPS are not routinely recommended as treatment due to both poor evidence of efficacy and significant side-effect profiles.

While some of these compounds may offer some help, researchers are starting to consider cannabidiol (CBD) as another potential avenue for mad cow disease treatment.

CBD is generally well-tolerated and holds many beneficial properties which could potentially improve the quality of life of those infected with mad cow disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated about CBD that “no public health problems… have been associated with the use of pure CBD [oil].” With little risk and many potential rewards, CBD presents a promising avenue for research into future uses.

Effectiveness of Using CBD Oil for Mad Cow Disease

Some researchers are beginning to believe that CBD oil may hold to the key to slowing or even stopping the progression of the neurodegeneration that occurs with mad cow disease. Because mad cow disease affects the brain and nervous system, CBD oil could hold significant promise.

CBD oil’s neuroprotective properties have been researched heavily, with studies showing that CBD can inhibit the production of glutamate in the brain, which protects brain cells by reducing the risk of damage to brain tissues that aren’t getting enough blood flow.

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Mad cow disease isn’t fully understood at this point, but what is known is that those who come down with the disease end up with large accumulations of abnormal prion proteins in their brain cells. In one study performed on mice, CBD was found to potentially protect the brain from prion toxicity.

During this study, CBD was observed to work with the peripheral nervous system to slow the accumulation of prions in the brain. Because of this decreased rate of accumulation, the survival time of the participating mice improved markedly.

Researchers concluded that CBD may protect neurons against the neurodegenerative process that takes place during prion infection. And further, “when combined with its ability to target the brain and its lack of toxic side effects, CBD may represent a promising new anti-prion drug.”

It is worth noting, however, that this study from 2007 is the only one to make these claims and many people have taken issue with the analysis surrounding these results. CBD did slow down the accumulation of prions but it was only successful at high doses and immediately after infection. In humans, prion diseases are often diagnosed weeks or months after the initial infection.

Their methodology of the study was also problematic in that the mice were infected with prion disease intraperitoneally, whereas bovine spongiform encephalopathy in humans affects the brain. It is not certain whether the same effect of CBD would be seen with intracranial infection.

This does not mean that CBD can’t be effective at treating mad cow disease, it simply means that more research is necessary to draw a definitive conclusion.

How to Take CBD Oil for Mad Cow Disease

If you have been diagnosed with BSE and you would like to consider taking CBD oil to try to alleviate the symptoms or delay progression of the disease, you can choose from a range of delivery mechanisms. Obviously, as this is a severe disease, this should be done in close consultation with your doctor.

CBD oil capsules are one of the easiest ways to get a consistent dose of CBD oil. Simply take the capsule as directed and you are done. For first time users, the familiarity of a capsule is a big plus. The only real drawback to a CBD oil capsule or even a CBD oil edible is that the effects can take a while to appear because the CBD must be processed through the digestive system before being absorbed into the bloodstream. Depending on metabolism speed and the amount of food already in your stomach, it could take up to an hour for you to see a difference. But, the effects can last up to 6 hours, making CBD edibles and capsules useful for calming mood, muscles, and pain for a longer period of time.

CBD oil tinctures or drops are another great option. Because they are administered sublingually (under the tongue) with a dropper, they work quickly and offer maximum dosage control. The CBD is absorbed through the skin under the tongue allowing it to bypass the digestive system and go to work within 30 minutes. The effects can last between 2-4 hours and the amount used can easily be adjusted up or down as needed.

CBD oil vapes and CBD oil topicals are also options but tend to have more specific uses. CBD vape oils show effects within minutes, providing quick relief, but the effects often disappear within an hour. CBD oil topicals can take hours to show effects but can last well over 6 hours. Topicals are best for targeted relief as they can be applied directly to any cramping or spastic muscles.

It is likely that a capsule, edible, or tincture form of CBD oil will be best for mad cow disease as they are the best for supplemental dosing and providing the potential neuroprotective effects of CBD oil.

CBD Oil Dosage for Mad Cow Disease

Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal dose of CBD oil for mad cow disease. Unless your doctor says otherwise, it is recommended that you begin with the lowest suggested serving listed on your CBD oil product. Once you know how your body will respond to CBD oil, you can adjust the dose if necessary.

To help eliminate some of the dosing confusion, at CBD Oil Review, we have used our experience analyzing hundreds of products to create a standard serving suggestion:

The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25mg of CBD, taken twice daily

If this dosage doesn’t produce the desired effects, slowly increase the amount by 25mg over 3 to 4 weeks until you are happy.

For more information on CBD oil dosage, check out our dosage guide or schedule a dosage consultation with a naturopathic doctor.

While CBD oil is in no way a cure for mad cow disease, its potential neuroprotective properties offer a little bit of hope.


+ 7 sources


  1. (2014) What are the potential treatments for prion disease? - Prion Alliance http://www.prionalliance.org/2014/02/04/what-are-the-potential-treatments-for-prion-disease/
  2. UCL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prion
  3. CANNABIDIOL (CBD) - World Health Organization https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf
  4. María Rodríguez-Muñoz et al. (2016) Endocannabinoid control of glutamate NMDA receptors: the therapeutic potential and consequences of dysfunction - National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5342457/
  5. Prion Diseases - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/prions/index.html
  6. Sevda Dirikoc et al. Nonpsychoactive Cannabidiol Prevents Prion Accumulation and Protects Neurons against Prion Toxicity - Society for Neuroscience https://www.jneurosci.org/content/27/36/9537.short
  7. (2013) Cannabidiol for prion disease? Not so fast. - Prion Alliance http://www.prionalliance.org/2013/06/09/cannabidiol-for-prion-disease-not-so-fast/

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