CBD and Its Effects on the Brain
The brain contains large numbers of highly specialized cells called neurons. Each neuron connects to many others through structures called synapses. These are sites where one neuron communicates to another by releasing chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters
A neuron’s sensitivity to a specific neurotransmitter depends on whether or not it contains a receptor that “fits” that transmitter, like an electrical socket fits a plug. If a neuron contains receptors that match a particular neurotransmitter, then it can respond directly to that transmitter. Otherwise, it generally can’t. All neurons contain 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 THC or CBD. 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 enter your brain. Once they arrive, these plant-derived compounds can influence brain activity by interacting with receptors on neurons. But they don’t interact with all neurons, just the ones that have the appropriate receptors.
1 – CBD Reduces Blood Flow
A study by Crippa et al., published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in September 2010, looked at the effects of CBD on a small group of subjects with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). The researchers discovered that the participants felt better, and CBD helped change the way their brains responded to anxiety. What’s fascinating; the brain scans revealed changes in blood flow to the areas of the brain usually linked with anxiety.
2 – CBD Works to Manage Pain
Those who suffer from chronic pain are using CBD in the belief that the cannabinoid can help manage the symptoms. CBD modifies CB2 receptors’ ability to bind endocannabinoids. Alternatively, it may cause the body to produce more of the natural cannabinoids that attach to the CB2 receptors.
While scientists are not completely sure, they believe that CBD also affects the way in which these receptors respond to the pain signals we receive, which helps reduce pain and inflammation.
3 – Reduces Oxidative Damage
The way in which our bodies manage oxidative stress plays a huge role in maintaining good health. Oxidative stress is a natural process that happens at a cellular level. When a cell generates energy, it generates free radicals as a waste product. Environmental toxins, such as smog exposure, can also create free radicals.
Our body responds to the creation of free radicals by using antioxidants to stabilize the waste and ensure they don’t cause damage to the DNA in our cells. However, if the free radicals are too numerous and we don’t produce enough antioxidants, the waste products begin stealing DNA particles. This process can result in the development of conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and atherosclerosis.
CBD acts on the CB2 receptors to decrease the level of oxidative damage. Possessing strong antioxidant abilities, researchers believe that cannabidiol’s neuroprotective antioxidant capacity is similar to that of Vitamins C and E.
A study by Cheng et al., published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2014, found that long-term CBD treatment “prevents the development of social recognition memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease transgenic mice.” The researchers also wrote that CBD exerts anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and neuroprotective properties in vitro and in vivo.
4 – CBD Lowers the Degree of Excitation in Brain Cells
Excitotoxicity is the damage caused when our brain cells become overactive due to excessive stimulation. It can result from traumatic brain injury, stroke, hearing loss, and neurodegenerative diseases of the CNS, including multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.
Glutamine-dependent excitotoxicity is seen in practically every age-related neurodegenerative disease and brain disorder. It also happens to be one of the main molecular mechanisms noted in epilepsy. In recent times, there has been an increasing level of research into CBD as a treatment for neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
A study by Pretzsch et al., published in the Neuropsychopharmacology jo
5 – CBD Has Significant Antipsychotic Properties
This benefit relates to CBD’s effects on anandamide. Anandamide was discovered in the 1990s and is a neurotransmitter that can both improve mood while also potentially reducing pain sensitivity.
Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) breaks down anandamide. However, CBD inhibits the FAAH enzyme, which means the bliss molecule remains active in the ECS for longer; thus enhancing its potency.
CBD’s antipsychotic effects relate to its impact on anandamide. Scientists link higher levels of the bliss molecule with a decrease in psychotic symptoms. A study by Leweke et al. published in Translational Psychiatry in March 2012, looked into the effect of CBD on anandamide production.
The researchers wrote that an elevation of anandamide levels in cerebrospinal fluid inversely correlates to psychotic symptoms. The team performed a double-blind, randomized trial of CBD versus a potent antipsychotic. Ultimately, the study found that CBD boosted anandamide signaling and alleviated the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.
The benefits of CBD are endless, but with all of its positive effects on the brain, there’s no reason to not try CBD for overall health!
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