Cannabis has a profound effect on the brain, and this fact was first realized by humans thousands of years ago. More recently, marijuana has been considered to be a net negative for mental health and the brain. But this was before the properties of cannabidiol (CBD) were extensively explored. The cannabinoid, which can be legally derived from hemp, has become a medicinal wonder over the past few years, and it is showing impressive, wide-ranging potential for brain health.
This article will help to improve your understanding of CBD’s neurological effects. We will cover:
- How CBD differs from regular cannabis
- How CBD works in the brain
- The benefits of CBD for various mental conditions
- Which CBD products may be most helpful for the brain
- Why CBD is of therapeutic value to chronic cannabis users
We have tons of fascinating information to share with you. But please keep in mind the following is just informational content, and not a substitute for medical advice.
How does CBD work in the brain?
CBD works in the brain by acting on cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) that comprise part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). CBD optimizes the ECS, which promotes homeostasis in the body. A healthy ECS is thought to reduce the likelihood of mood disorders and cognitive problems, and more serious mental illnesses like psychosis and schizophrenia.
CB1 receptors are more dominant than CB2 receptors in the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and spinal cord. These are implicated in regulating mood, appetite, memory and pain sensitivity. The receptor has become a target for various conditions, including depression and anxiety. But a dearth of clinical trials has so far stopped us from knowing the true effectiveness of CBD.
CBD is non-psychoactive
One huge benefit of CBD in comparison to typical cannabis products is its non-psychoactive status. The intoxicating effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), generally the most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana, is thought to aggravate certain mental illnesses.
The psychoactive effects mean that cannabis has been outlawed in many countries, including the United States, for several decades. Marijuana research has been hard to come by for this reason. But as CBD is safe with few side effects, and can be taken in rich quantities from hemp, which is now legal, the compound is being studied and used by the American public at a greater rate than ever before. It’s even popular for several mental disorders that cannabis was thought to be problematic for, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
CBD effects on brain health
CBD has numerous nuanced effects on brain health. Due to the complexity of neuroscience, and the limited cannabinoid research conducted, much of the evidence on CBD’s therapeutic neurological benefits is preliminary. However, some fascinating studies offer an insight into how CBD could be used for the brain. And coupled with our knowledge on what people are taking CBD for, we can join a few dots to get a good idea of what the compound has medical benefits for.
CBD for anxiety
An overactive brain is responsible for the mental disorder anxiety. Treatments for the condition have historically looked at involving the 5-HT1A receptors in the serotonin system, of which CBD is an agonist. CBD also regulates brain levels of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that inhibits electrical impulses in the brain. This is a key effect, as a balance between inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters like glutamate is vital. Otherwise, the brain becomes excessively active, which increases the risks of epileptic seizures as well as anxiety.
Most people using CBD for anxiety prefer the efficient qualities of CBD vape pens, or tincture oils if they want to stay healthy. CBD is likely much better than regular medication for generalized and social anxiety, as the benefits are noticeable in minutes, not weeks.
CBD for brain inflammation
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans on the brain are showing the differences in brain structures between healthy people, and those with depression and other mental disorders. MRIs are transforming views on mental illness. Disorders aren’t just due to chemical issues, but physical problems, too. Major depressive disorder may explain brain inflammation. Neuro-inflammation causes structural changes to the brain.
Studies have linked depression to damage in various regions of the brain, notably the hippocampus, where motivation and memory is controlled, and the prefrontal cortex. Research also shows that CBD, cannabichromene (CBC) and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids have neuroprotective qualities, which not only reduce symptoms but have a healing effect on the brain.
The anti-inflammatory influence of CBD on the brain suggests that it may provide more potent and enduring benefits for depressed patients than current drugs. While animal studies are merely a precursor for human, clinical trials, such research has highlighted how an antidepressant effect lasting several days can be obtained from just one dose of CBD.
CBD for neuropathic pain
Neuropathic pain occurs when nerves involved with the transferral of information between the brain and spinal cord and other regions of the body. Symptoms of conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS) tend to be intensely painful, and hard to manage. Neuropathic pain severely affects quality of life, due to loss of mobility.
A study in Anesthesia and Analgesia in 2017 showed why CBD may be helpful for chronic nerve pain. Treatment may also help to combat fatigue and enhance sleep quality by easing pain at night. To relieve this type of pain in the daytime, vaping or smoking hemp-derived CBD products may be best. At night, a CBD edible product like CBD gummies will last for longer. Boost CBD’s sedative effects with a product that contains indica terpenes.
CBD oil for brain injuries
It may be possible to alleviate the damage caused by strokes, traumatic brain injuries and concussions by using CBD, and hemp-derived CBD products. A rat model found that CBD treatment could reduce brain damage from an artificial ischemia stroke. MRI scans showcased the benefits of CBD administration. Researchers found that CBD reduced neuronal loss and helped with long-term recovery, by regulating various factors, including brain inflammation and apoptosis.
A 2018 study looked at the potential of medicinal cannabis to treat concussion syndrome and concussion-related pain in humans. They suggested that medical cannabis could be helpful, and that treatments with 1:1 THC to CBD were better than 20:1 THC to CBD. Therefore, CBD looks to have a medicinal effect that is worth studying in more depth.
CBD for brain fog
Most of us experience a mental slump at some point in life. This brain fog can be due to symptoms of other illnesses, like fibromyalgia. But there are several factors that could lead to a decline in cognition, from brain inflammation to poor gut health. The good news is that the ECS regulates cognitive function and memory, and could help to ease brain fog symptoms, and bring back mental clarity.
Any CBD product where the cannabinoids are taken into the brain can help with mental fogginess. Those wanting a rapid boost and perhaps a creative spark may want to try products with sativa terpenes. Sativas enhance mood, and have pleasant cerebral effects.
CBD for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease
Could CBD really help with Alzheimer’s disease? There is certainly optimism among the CBD community, because of the neurogenesis that CBD provides to the hippocampus. Memory is regulated here, and hippocampal atrophy, or shrinkage, has been linked to Alzheimer’s. A Brazilian patient is now being prescribed CBD for Alzheimer’s after getting special permission, and it will be intriguing to see the long-term effects of treatment for this form of dementia.
Parkinson’s groups all over the world are expressing their support for the relaxation of laws surrounding medical cannabis. CBD’s potential for this neurodegenerative illness is unclear. But studies have shown that CBD can reduce psychotic symptoms, and relieve depression and anxiety. It may also help with tremors and sleeping problems. CBD is an inverse agonist of CPR6 receptors in the basal ganglia, a potential target for future Parkinson’s medication.
Huntington’s is a brain disorder that adversely affects cognition, emotional processing and motor control, and the illness is inherited.Huntington’s develops in the 30s and 40s, and damages nerve cells in the brain. CBD has actually been researched for Huntington’s for many decades. In 1991, a controlled clinical trial showed that CBD had no effect on the disease. Other studies have found that cannabinoids are neuroprotective and may help. We require more research to be confident of the effects.
Can CBD reverse brain damage?
CBD for brain disorders is an exciting prospect. Initial research for many brain issues looks promising. However, it is also clear that while CBD is good for some conditions, it may not help with all. It’s tempting to talk about CBD as if it were some kind of panacea. But this only discredits the treatment for what it is useful for.
However, as a means of damage limitation, CBD certainly looks like it helps to reduce the impact of strokes and traumatic brain injuries. CBD treatment could be an effective tool for doctors and paramedics to have on hand.
CBD for brain healing following chronic cannabis use
A growing number of people are worried that they have damaged their brains irreversibly by consuming too much super-strength high-THC cannabis for too long. These concerns are legitimate. THC can be neurotoxic in large quantities, and especially so without the balancing effects of CBD.
But it is this moderating influence of CBD which makes it the perfect candidate for brain healing. While the brain’s structure can become damaged, it can just as easily be repaired with a neurogenesis treatment like CBD. Indeed, research has found that the more devastating the effects of chronic cannabis consumption, the more therapeutic that CBD can be.
What is CBD brain disease?
If you have researched CBD and the brain for yourself, you may have come across another type of CBD, which stands for corticobasal degeneration. This describes a condition that can impair memory, while making speech and movement more difficult. CBS is another acronym for this illness. It causes increased damage to brain cells, and eventually brain cell death.
Just to reassure you, this type of CBD has nothing to do with cannabidiol, the cannabinoid! And if you are doing your own research, remember to make this distinction!
The true benefits of CBD for the brain may take years to fully show. Research is really promising for many areas. But we are a long way off knowing for sure just exactly how valuable CBD can be for various illnesses. However, thanks to the safety of CBD products, you can have the confidence to experiment, and find out whether they work for your health problems. CBD is legal. But CBD hemp oil companies must keep the THC level below 0.3 percent. Already using CBD? Let us know how it helps you!