Professor’s CBD study seeks answers with student subjects

Castleton University professor Andrea Corcoran has started a study to determine how CBD affects the heart. 

Corcoran has taught exercise science at Castleton since 2019 and said she noticed one day how CBD drinks are now in gas stations for everyone to buy, yet there has been no scientific research behind them to back up benefit claims. 

“It’s legally available as a beverage and we don’t even know the effects on people,” Corcoran said. 

She set out to do a study to see what was actually going on with CBD. For those who don’t know, CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a derivative from cannabis. 

CBD seems to have a calming effect on the body like marijuana but without the high. To undertake the study, she asked Castleton students to volunteer to be a part of this study. Eighteen Castleton students agreed to participate in this study last semester. 

This will be Corcoran’s first study done using human subjects. She said she is very excited to be able to use humans after only using animals in the past.

 “It’s way more fun working with people, but it’s a lot harder working with people because animals can’t tell you I’m sorry I can’t make it, I have work,”  Corcoran said, adding that it was a lot of fun getting to know the Castleton community through this study. 

This study also marks Castleton’s first clinical trial to be done. 

The participants would come in for five weeks to have their heart rate variability observed after taking a certain amount of CBD that wasn’t disclosed to them. The researchers giving the CBD also didn’t know the amount so it was a double blind experiment. 

Then the observations were recorded. 

These results are still being studied so Corcoran is not completely sure yet what the data truly shows.

She is anticipating, though, that the results will show the participants have better cardiac health due to the CBD. 

Another neat thing to come out of this experiment was that Corcoran’s student research assistants got to practice conducting studies on people. It let them become well versed in professionalism, human subjects and getting to learn how to analyze data, she said. 

In talking with other professors on campus, they agreed CBD was a good thing. 

“I have had several students over the years who have told me that CBD has helped them with pain and anxiety, and that it’s made the difference that allowed them to function closer to their academic potential. That’s a lot to be grateful for,” professor philosophy Brendan Lalor said.  

Overall, the Castleton campus seems to have a positive attitude toward CBD, although there have been some mixed feelings about it too. 

“CBD sucked. It wasn’t great for my body or heart,” said freshman Hannah Ferry.

Because of a heart conduction, she said when she took CBD it slowed down her heart and made it feel like it was skipping a beat. Her observation seems to perhaps support Corcoran’s theory of it affecting the heart.

Corcoran said if anyone is interested in the next round of studies, hopefully next  summer if she gets another grant, they can either email her directly or reach out after the official posting comes out later this school year.

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