By Luke Sumpter

Many of us are constantly looking for ways to optimise our well-being. Scores of people have turned to ketogenic diets—where most of their calories come from fat—as a means of performing better in daily life. Now, people are wondering if CBD has a place in this fat-fuelled lifestyle.


Keto, or the ketogenic diet, is a way of eating that features high levels of fat, moderate levels of protein, and little-to-no carbohydrates. But wait, isn’t fat supposed to be the bad guy? Well, that’s according to older and possibly defunct scientific studies. Fat is actually essential to the human body, and some forms of the macronutrient can assist with weight loss, reduce the risk of heart disease, and stave off inflammation.

Most of us realise that glucose, or sugar, is the body's primary source of fuel. This molecule is stored as glycogen within the muscles and the liver and is required to produce energy at the cellular level in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The body achieves this via both the anaerobic and aerobic energy pathways. However, when an individual is eating a ketogenic diet and exposes their body to little-to-no levels of glucose, the body turns to another source of fuel.

The lack of glucose within the bloodstream and lack of glycogen supply puts the body into a metabolic state called ketosis. This state means the body has become very efficient at burning stored body fat as fuel. Fat is taken from the cells and transported to the liver where it is turned into ketones, which can fuel the body.

Signs that a person has entered a ketogenic state include weight loss, increased levels of ketones in the blood, decreased appetite, increased energy, short-term fatigue, and temporarily decreased physical performance.

Many people report more balanced energy throughout the day, as opposed to the peaks and troughs of energy when blood sugar rises and autumns. This diet has also been shown to exhibit beneficial effects in cases of Alzheimer’s, cancer, and epilepsy.



CBD, or cannabidiol, is a phytocannabinoid produced by the trichomes of the cannabis plant. It serves the purpose of a secondary metabolite within the herb and has an important ecological function. The cannabinoid has gained serious attention well beyond cannabis culture thanks to consistent mainstream media coverage, not to mention its lack of intoxicating effects.

CBD is attracted to the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors and vanilloid receptors within the body. The molecule also indirectly affects the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system as an antagonist. Ongoing studies are testing CBD’s efficacy in models of athletic recovery, inflammation, mental performance, and much more.


Many people start keto and CBD not out of an attempt to reduce symptoms, but to boost their performance and optimise their lifestyle. Athletes and health enthusiasts embrace the combination to reach their goals and boost quality of life. However, people who experience symptoms of various health conditions also use this combination therapeutically. Both keto and CBD have been well-studied and have shown rather similar outcomes, suggesting a powerful synergy between the two.

Keto CBD


Inflammation occurs when white blood cells release chemicals into the blood or tissues to protect the body against harmful substances. This can also occur as a result of injury, chronic disease, and autoimmune conditions. Symptoms of inflammation include redness, swelling, pain, stiffness, heat, and loss of joint function.

A 2015 paper[1] published in the journal Epilepsia discusses the anti-inflammatory effects of the ketogenic diet. The authors state that the diet induces thermal nociception and decreases peripheral edema, pointing toward an anti-inflammatory effect.

Scientists are constantly testing CBD in models of inflammation, but they’re interested in the molecule’s analogues, too. Research published in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry explored this arsenal of chemicals[2] in cases of colitis, collagen-induced arthritis, B-amyloid-induced neuroinflammation, and acute lung injury. 


The ketogenic diet is an established treatment for refractory epilepsy, meaning epilepsy that does not respond to forms of treatment. The diet has been used successfully for this purpose since the 1920s. A 2008 paper[3] published in The Lancet documents a study that tested the effects of the ketogenic diet on drug-resistant epilepsy in children. 145 children aged 2–16 who experienced daily seizures and failed to respond to seizure medication were enrolled in the trial. 73 children were placed into the ketogenic group, and 72 were placed into the control group. Data from 103 children was analised, with 54 being from the keto group. After a period of 3 months, the percentage of seizures was significantly lower in the keto group.

CBD initially rose to fame following media reports concerning childhood epilepsy patients. Researchers are working hard to see if the cannabinoid influences the cognitive pathways involved in seizures, and if it affects seizure frequency[4].



Cancer refers to a group of diseases that involve abnormal cell growth that eventually spreads to other areas of the body. In 2018, an estimated 1.7 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States alone. Conventional treatments for the disease include chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, emerging alternatives such as the ketogenic diet and CBD are showing interesting results. Although both are in very early stages of research, the results are still fascinating.

A 2007 paper[5] published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism states that a calorie-restricted ketogenic diet is an effective alternative therapy for malignant brain cancer. The authors describe that although normal brain cells can use both glucose and ketone bodies for energy, brain tumour cells lack metabolic flexibility and are dependant on glucose for growth and survival. Thus, a ketogenic state could effectively cut off the energy supply to brain tumour cells.

The study mentioned in the paper tested the effects of a new, nutritionally balanced high-fat and low-carbohydrate keto diet on the growth of brain tumour cells in mice and in vitro. It was found that the diet had antitumour and anti-angiogenic effects on both types of cells.

Where does CBD stand when it comes to cancer? Well, researchers are looking at the endocannabinoid system as a target for cancer treatment[6], and many cannabinoids are candidates for honing in on this regulatory network. A study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics looked at the efficacy of CBD specifically in models of apoptosis (controlled cell death)[7]—a desirable mechanism for cancer medicines. 

This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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