5 Ways CBD Affects Your Brain
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive chemical made by cannabis plants. In most cannabis plants, CBD is the second most common chemical produced. THC is the most common chemical produced by most cannabis plants. Though many people think about THC when they think about marijuana, CBD is becoming more popular due to its numerous health benefits.
Relieves Anxiety and Depression
Many people are familiar with marijuana’s ability to help alleviate anxiety. While THC helps some people feel more relaxed and calm, it can actually increase anxiety in other people. This has led researchers to examine CBD as a treatment for anxiety and depression instead.
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 many side effects.
Protects Brain Cells from Harm
Although many believe that marijuana damages the brain, studies indicate that some components of cannabis, such as CBD, can actually protect brain cells from harm. In fact, in 1999, the United States Department of Health and Human Services actually obtained a patent for the neuroprotective effects of cannibinoids. The patent states that cannabis and its chemical 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.
Oxidation contributes to brain tissue damage and is partly responsible for the brain damage seen in individuals with conditions like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Research indicates that CBD acts on CB2 receptors to decrease oxidative damage.
Activates the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is comprised of CB1 receptors, which are mainly located in the brain, and CB2 receptors, which are mostly located on immune cells. Chemicals like THC and CBD activate the endocannabinoid system when marijuana is consumed. THC binds with CB1 receptors in the brain, producing psychoactive effects, such as pain relief, heightened mood, short-term memory impairments, and hunger.
Unlike THC, CBD does not activate CB1 receptors. That’s why CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects. Rather, CBD interacts with CB1 receptors in a way that inhibits chemicals, such as THC, from binding to CB1 receptors. CBD decreases many of the psychoactive effects THC can have, such as memory problems and anxiety.
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.
Relieves Inflammation and Pain
Cannabis has been used to alleviate pain for thousands of years. While the pain-killing ability of THC has long been known, studies indicate that CBD can effectively relieve pain as well. CBD helps manage pain by acting on CB2 receptors, which are mainly located on immune cells. The CB2 receptors are responsible for managing some cellular functions.
One of the cellular functions CB2 receptors are responsible for managing is suppressing the inflammation response created by immune cells. CBD decreases the amount of inflammatory molecules, such as chemokines and cytokines, that are present at sites of inflammation. CBD’s ability to decrease inflammation peripherally helps block pain signals from going to the brain.
Fights Psychosis and Seizures
CBD can also be effective in managing epilepsy. CBD seems to manage seizures by lowering the degree of excitation of cells in the brain that play a part in seizures. CBD stops the brain mechanisms that contribute to seizures by enhancing the release of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.
CBD also has antipsychotic effects. CBD increases anandamide in the brain. Increased levels of anandamide in the brain have been associated with decreases in psychotic symptoms.
CBD possesses numerous health benefits and can help manage both medical and mental health conditions. If you are interested in using cannabis to help manage your health, please call LifeBoost to pre-qualify for the use of medical cannabis.
5 Ways CBD Affects Your Brain That’ll Blow Your Mind
The CBD industry continues to grow at an extraordinary rate. However, there is still a remarkable amount of misinformation when it comes to the cannabinoid. One of the biggest mistakes relating to CBD is the notion that it is non-psychoactive. In reality, cannabidiol is non-intoxicating, and there is a BIG difference.
THC, the cannabinoid associated with a psychotropic high, is intoxicating — CBD is not.
In reality, psychoactive chemicals act on the central nervous system (CNS) and alter brain function. As a result, they cause temporary changes in consciousness, behavior, mood, or perception. CBD impacts mood and other behaviors, so there are psychoactive effects. In this guide, we illustrate five of them.
How Does CBD Affect Your Brain?
Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of numerous endocannabinoids; these are neurotransmitters that bind to receptors throughout our CNS and peripheral nervous system. Our ECS helps regulate a variety of cognitive and physiological processes in the body, such as memory, pain, stress response, and appetite.
The cannabis plant contains over 110 cannabinoids that bind with ECS receptors. The two main receptors are CB1 and CB2, although scientists believe there may be more. CB1 receptors are prevalent in the CNS and regulate pain, appetite, mood, coordination, and other functions. CB2 receptors are prevalent in the body and immune system, and primarily affect pain and inflammation.
THC closely mimics a naturally occurring cannabinoid named anandamide which binds to the CB1 receptors, which are responsible for many of THC’s psychoactive effects. As the psychoactive cannabinoid binds to anandamide’s CB1 receptors even more closely than anandamide, which is known as ‘the bliss molecule.’ It inhibits the release of other neurotransmitters. This helps explain the feelings of euphoria associated with the ‘high’ from cannabis.
CBD has a much milder effect on the receptors. It only binds itself to the CB1 receptors loosely and results in the blocking of the receptors, mitigating THC’s psychoactive effects. CBD also inhibits anandamide degradation, which leads to increased circulating levels of the molecule.
The brain has protein receptors throughout it that respond to endocannabinoids.
When you consume cannabis, the plant’s cannabinoids bind to the receptors in a manner akin to a key fitting into a lock. The receptors that are affected and parts of the brain that get involved vary from person to person depending on factors such as previous drug use and genetic make-up.
Now that we have explored a little of the science behind CBD’s effects; let’s look at five specific ways it impacts the human brain.
5 Ways CBD Affects our Brain
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 journal in February 2019, looked at the effects of CBD on brain excitation and inhibition systems. The team concluded that CBD could ‘shift’ the level of Glx and GABA+ metabolites; they are known to contribute to the regulation of inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmission in the autistic and typical brains. The researchers pointed out that further studies were required.
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.
Final Thoughts About CBD
Ultimately, cannabidiol is one of the fastest-growing supplements in the world at present. Consumers are turning to CBD to manage conditions such as migraines, brain fog, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. As the popularity of CBD increases, so does the number of anecdotal accounts regarding its efficacy, not to mention a significant rise in scientific studies.
However, we still need further clinical trials involving humans to confirm CBD’s positive neurological effects.
The cannabinoid’s effects on the brain appear to be many and profound, but we need more confirmatory studies. We advise all readers to steer clear of CBD sellers that try to portray cannabidiol as a ‘cure-all.’ There is no question that the existing research is exciting, but it would be irresponsible to draw too many conclusions just yet.
If you decide to see what all the hype is about for yourself, stick to tried, and trusted CBD sellers that have developed a stellar reputation.
CBD (cannabidiol): What does it do and how does it affect the brain & body?
What is CBD and what medical conditions might it help?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many cannabinoid molecules produced by cannabis, second only to THC in abundance. These plant-derived cannabinoids, or phytocannabinoids (phyto = plant in Greek), are characterized by their ability to act on the cannabinoid receptors that are part of our endocannabinoid system. While THC is the principal psychoactive component of cannabis and has certain medical uses, CBD stands out because it is both non-intoxicating and displays a broad range of potential medical applications including helping with anxiety, inflammation, pain, and seizures. These makes CBD an attractive therapeutic compound.
Why does THC get you high but not CBD?
Despite being chemical cousins, THC and CBD have very different effects. The primary difference is that THC get you high while CBD does not. This is because THC and CBD affect our endocannabinoid system (ECS) in different ways. The major ECS receptor in the brain, CB1, is activated by THC but not CBD. In fact, CBD can get in the way of compounds like THC, preventing them from activating the CB1 receptor. This is why the THC:CBD ratio is so important for influencing the effects of cannabis products.
The reason THC and CBD have different effects is because they influence the endocannabinoid system in different ways.
Scientific evidence for CBD’s medical effects
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about CBD is the sheer number and variety of its potential therapeutic applications. It is important to recognize that each application may be supported by different levels of evidence. These range from ongoing clinical trials evaluating its efficacy in the treatment of human disorders, to animal studies investigating its behavioral and physiological effects, to in vitro work (test tube experiments) measuring its pharmacological interactions and mechanisms of action. Each type of study comes with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Clinical trials allow us to draw conclusions about the safety and effectiveness of potential therapeutic agents in humans, while animal studies and in vitro experiments allow researchers to explore their biological actions in greater detail. However, because the latter class of studies are not conducted in humans, the results don’t always lead to the clinical application that we hope for—the majority of drugs that start in human clinical trials never become approved. Nonetheless, animal studies provide us with a strong foundation of biological knowledge, and are where the initial breakthroughs in research are made.
Why does CBD have so many potential therapeutic benefits?
CBD is famous for the promise it holds for treating treatment-resistant forms of childhood epilepsy. A number of clinical trials, testing the efficacy of CBD in human epilepsy patients, are currently underway. But there is also evidence, mainly from animal studies and in vitro experiments, that CBD may have neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, and potential therapeutic value in the treatment of motivational disorders like depression, anxiety, and addiction.
What’s the biological basis for this wide range of potential medical uses? A key part of the answer lies in CBD’s promiscuous pharmacology—its ability to influence a wide range of receptor systems in the brain and body, including not only cannabinoid receptors but a host of others.
Receptor systems in 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 (Figure 1).
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.
Figure 1. Neurons Communicate Using Neurotransmitters
Right: The brain contains a huge a number of brain cells (neurons). Each neuron, represented here as a hexagon, is connected to many others. Left: The synapse is the site where two neurons communicate with each other. The “sender neuron” releases chemical signals called neurotransmitters, which stimulate receptors on the “receiver neuron.” There are many different receptor types in the brain, each one sensitive to different neurotransmitters.
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.
CBD has effects on many different receptor systems
Although it is a cannabinoid, CBD does not directly interact with the two classical cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). Instead, it affects signaling through CB1 and CB2 receptors indirectly. This partly explains why, in contrast to THC, CBD is non-intoxicating. In addition to its indirect influence on the CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD can increase levels of the body’s own naturally-produced cannabinoids (known as endocannabinoids) by inhibiting the enzymes that break them down.
Even more intriguing: CBD also influences many non-cannabinoid receptor systems in the brain, interacting with receptors sensitive to a variety of drugs and neurotransmitters (Figure 2). These include opioid receptors, known for their role in pain regulation. Opioid receptors are the key targets of pharmaceutical pain killers and drugs of abuse such as morphine, heroin, and fentanyl. CBD can also interact with dopamine receptors, which play a crucial role in regulating many aspects of behavior and cognition, including motivation and reward-seeking behavior.
This raises the intriguing possibility that CBD’s ability to influence either opioid or dopamine receptors may underlie its ability to dampen drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms, effects directly relevant to the treatment of addiction. However, we can’t say for sure at this point; more research on CBD’s interactions with the opioid and dopamine receptor systems is still needed.
CBD’s therapeutic potential with respect to addiction also extends to the serotonin system. Animal studies have demonstrated that CBD directly activates multiple serotonin receptors in the brain. These interactions have been implicated in its ability to reduce drug-seeking behavior. CBD’s influence on the serotonin system may also account in part for its anti-anxiety properties, which have been robustly demonstrated across both human and animal studies.
CBD and the serotonin system: exciting possibilities
CBD’s ability to target a specific serotonin receptor, the serotonin 1A receptor, is associated with a remarkable range of therapeutic possibilities. Professor Roger Pertwee, an English pharmacologist renowned for his research on cannabinoids, spoke with Leafly about this aspect of CBD biology.
“It’s apparent ability to enhance the activation of serotonin 1A receptors supports the possibility that it could be used to ameliorate disorders that include: opioid dependence, neuropathic pain, depression and anxiety disorders, nausea and vomiting (e.g. from chemotherapy), and negative symptoms of schizophrenia,” he said. “One big unanswered question is what the human clinical relevance and importance of each of these potential therapeutic uses of CBD, identified solely by examining data from non-human preclinical research, actually is.”
Given that these possibilities come mainly from animal studies, more research will be needed before we can think seriously about human applications.
Figure 2. Receptor Systems Involved in CBD’s Potential Therapeutic Applications. CBD interacts, either directly or indirectly, with many different receptor systems in the brain. It indirectly influences the major cannabinoid receptor in the brain by decreasing THC’s ability to stimulate this receptor. It also interacts with a variety of other receptors. A subset of these are shown here. Each red shape represents a different brain receptor that might be found on a neuron. Some of the potential therapeutic applications associated with CBD’s interaction with each receptor system are listed below each receptor.
CBD: Psychiatric utility from complex pharmacology?
Understanding CBD’s neurological effects is a complicated business, because of the wide variety of receptors with which it interacts. But that complexity may be the key to its promise as a therapeutic agent. Motivational disorders like addiction and anxiety are themselves highly complex; they arise from incompletely understood causes that span multiple receptor systems and neural networks in the brain. CBD’s complex, multi-target effects may therefore be crucial to its potential for aiding the treatment of such disorders. Over the coming years, researchers will continue to further understand this complexity and uncover the full scope of CBD’s therapeutic potential.