How does CBD affect the brain? Given the widespread popularity and availability of CBD products, this simple question, which bothers many CBD users, deserves a detailed answer.
Though talks about cannabis often relate to the intoxicating effects of its most abundant element (THC), CBD does not cause intoxication. The substance does impact the central nervous system more broadly, and, therefore, we’re beginning to understand how CBD affects the brain and body.
CBD has already been trialed in several disorders. For instance, extensive evidence suggests that the major non-intoxicating component of cannabis (CBD) may have antipsychotic and anxiolytic properties and thus may be a promising new agent in treating a broad spectrum of psychotic and anxiety disorders.
The one-of-a-kind neurological effects of CBD are the key reason why this supplement has grabbed the world of wellness products by the throat. Unlike other compounds present in the cannabis plant, CBD has its unique way of interacting with the Endocannabinoid System and a distinctive effect on global brain activity.
Don’t worry if you have been wondering how CBD affects the brain. We have the answer. This article brings everything you need to know about the impact of CBD on brain function. So, let’s outline what CBD is and what effects it has on the brain.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, usually referred to as CBD, is the second most prevalent chemical compound found in cannabis. First discovered during the 1940s, CBD has recently become more popular as a natural treatment for various conditions.
CBD is one of many cannabinoid molecules produced by cannabis, second only to THC in abundance. These plant-derived cannabinoids are characterized by their ability to act on the cannabinoid receptors that are part of our Endocannabinoid System.
CBD is just one of more than 100 different cannabinoids found in cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is most often associated with the plant’s psychoactive euphoric effects. On the other hand, CBD is increasingly being found to confer a number of positive health outcomes.
While THC is the principal psychoactive component of cannabis and has specific medical uses, CBD stands out because it is non-intoxicating and displays a broad range of potential medical applications, including helping with anxiety, stress, pain, inflammation, and seizures.
See also: What is CBD?
How does CBD work in the body?
The normal human physiological system contains a unique self-regulating system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for regulating and controlling some of the significant aspects of the human physiological system.
The human body naturally produces its own endocannabinoids to support this system, but just like with any other nutrient, we can have a deficiency and may need extra support. This is where CBD comes in.
The most basic way CBD works with our body is by blocking the breakdown of our own endocannabinoids, allowing our bodies to use more of what it’s already naturally producing. In other words, CBD impacts our bodies mainly by binding to proteins (or receptors) that are located on the surface of our cells, thereby initiating specific physiological responses.
CBD is thought to interact with receptors in the central nervous system, and extensive evidence points toward a calming effect brought on by CBD. It may also serve as an anti-inflammatory and may produce pain-relieving results that help with pain management.
The nervous system contains cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. CBD merges very loosely with the CB1 receptors and can block the ability of THC to cause any euphoric effects by inhibiting the anandamide. Simply put, CBD doesn’t make you high.
However, CBD binds very well with the body’s CB2 receptors to create healthy brain and functional effects.
As mentioned, CBD is known to have a tremendous number of medicinal properties. However, because the field of marijuana research is in its infancy, we still need more studies to examine the full potential of the plant’s compounds.
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We highlighted some of the documented neurological effects of CBD that may help you put an end to your ailments. So, how does CBD affect the brain?
How does CBD affect the brain?
One of the main ways Cannabidiol affects the brain is that CBD improves a person’s mood. CBD is well known for bringing total mind and body calmness, lifting your mood, and managing mood swings. CBD interferes with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) to activate serotonin receptors in the brain, increasing the serotonin level and ultimately reducing stress and anxiety.
The brain contains large numbers of highly specialized cells called neurons. All neurons have multiple neurotransmitter receptors, allowing them to respond to some neurotransmitters but not others.
Brain receptors are not only sensitive to neurotransmitters produced naturally within the brain, like dopamine or serotonin but also chemical messengers produced outside the body, such as plant cannabinoids like CBD.
Additionally, CBD increases anandamide levels within the brain. Anandamide is one of the few natural cannabinoids made in the body. Anandamide has a part in regulating other chemicals in the brain like dopamine and serotonin.
So when you ingest an edible or inhale some vapor, you’re allowing compounds originally produced by a plant to enter your body, travel through your bloodstream, and ultimately enter your brain. Once they arrive, these plant-derived compounds can influence brain activity by interacting with receptors on neurons.
CBD helps relieve stress by triggering the serotonin receptors in the brain to produce more cortisol. Cortisol is a specific hormone that is responsible for emotions. Recent studies have also demonstrated that CBD can be an excellent treatment option for psychiatric disorders. It is both an antipsychotic and an antidepressant. Therefore, through mood regulation, CBD can positively affect mental health.
In addition to its positive effect on mental health, research has shown that the substance acts as an antioxidant. These antioxidant properties of CBD seem to provide protection for the brain just like any other substance with well-known neuroprotective benefits.
See also: Does CBD Oil Make You Tired?
CBD could be helpful when it comes to treating neurological diseases due to its neuroprotective properties. In other words, CBD protects neurons from degeneration, which makes a person’s brain stay younger and more vital. In a study on Alzheimer’s Disease, CBD was shown to inhibit the development of Alzheimer’s symptoms.
How does CBD affect the brain? Benefits of CBD on human brain function
While most of the research available today has put its focus on understanding the relationship between people and THC, many recent studies have pointed out that the effects of CBD on the brain appear to have great potential in terms of its medical versatility. Once we fully understand all the properties of CBD, we will be able to unlock its full potential and use it in a way that could benefit us even more than it does now.
So, what are the benefits of CBD on human brain function?
CBD may protect brain cells
Although many believe that marijuana damages the brain, many studies indicate that CBD can protect brain cells from harm. In fact, the United States Department of Health and Human Services obtained a patent for the neuroprotective effects of cannabinoids. The patent states that CBD and its properties can protect brain cells in individuals with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other types of dementia.
CBD’s neuroprotective effects are related to its effect on CB2 receptors in the brain. CBD acts on CB2 receptors to create anti-inflammatory responses in immune cells located in the brain. This reduces the extent to which damage to the brain is caused by inflammation.
CBD may reduce symptoms related to some mental health disorders
Anxiety disorders and other mental health disorders can have devastating impacts on overall health and well-being.
Mental health disorders are often treated with pharmaceutical drugs, which can cause a number of side effects, including drowsiness, agitation, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and headaches.
What’s more, medications like benzodiazepines have the potential for dependence and may lead to substance use disorder.
However, CBD has shown promise as a treatment for some mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorders, leading many people who live with these conditions to become interested in this natural approach.
For instance, in one study, researchers examined the effects of CBD on the brain and anxiety levels. The researchers discovered that CBD reduces blood flow to areas of the brain linked with anxiety, such as the hypothalamus, which usually become overactive in people with anxiety disorders. It was also found that CBD reduced overall anxiety, with participants reporting lower anxiety levels after having received the chemical.
CBD may also be effective as an antidepressant. CBD appears to work by balancing the dysfunction in the endocannabinoid system in people with depression. Additionally, CBD has been found to work on a serotonin receptor that influences depression symptoms.
These studies have opened doors for both patients and clinicians. While antidepressants can take weeks to work and cause side effects, CBD works immediately without any side effects.
CBD may control seizures
According to a recent study posted in Epilepsia, the leading source for innovative clinical and basic science research for all aspects of epilepsy and seizures, CBD may treat seizures, epilepsy, and neuropsychiatric disorders.
Not only does CBD have a broad range of antiseizure properties, but it also has a low risk of undesired effects on people who already suffer from epilepsy. This particular quality of CBD has given rise to more and more studies aimed at determining how exactly CBD and other cannabinoids can potentially treat disorders linked to epilepsy, especially neurodegeneration and neuronal injuries.
Research has grown in recent years thanks to the widespread popularity of CBD products, and recent studies support the claim that CBD can help in treating certain groups of people with epilepsy.
However, researchers have not controlled the dose or preparation of CBD in most studies that have used CBD products, so researchers must continue to investigate this area as well as to continue to explore all the potential benefits of CBD.
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