So we have all heard about the benefits of CBD not only in humans but also in pets. But what is CBD and how exactly does it affect your brain?
CBD (Cannabidiol) is one of the over 120 cannabinoids existing naturally in the cannabis plant. Cannabis can be classified into either hemp or marijuana, depending on THC concentration.
THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the other prevalent cannabinoid in the marijuana plant. If cannabis contains more than 0.3% THC, then it is regarded as marijuana. If contains less than 0.3% THC, it is regarded as hemp.
THC causes the ‘high’ effect associated with the marijuana plant.
Now, the human body has a unique cell-signaling system known as ECS, short for the endocannabinoid system.
Although researchers are yet to fully understand how this system works, it is said that this system is responsible for regulating an array of body functions such as sleep, appetite, memory, pain, immune system response and even fertility and reproduction.
By interacting with the endocannabinoid receptors which are found throughout the body, CBD is able to alter/ boost the functioning of the brain, hence achieving different results.
In the following section, we will show you how Cannabidiol interacts with the brain achieving the various health benefits.
CBD Boosts The Growth of Healthy Brain Cells
As we continue aging, we may start experiencing some learning difficulties or memory loss. While some people are lucky and experience less cognitive decline, others are severely affected.
It is no wonder that at least 50 million people across the globe are suffering from dementia. As if that is not enough, this number is expected to triple by 2050!
Cognitive decline due to age can be caused by several factors such as lifestyle, genetics, etc. Cognitive decline can also be caused by a decrease in neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
Neurogenesis refers to the process through which new brain cells are created while neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change/adapt and reorganize. It is during neuroplasticity that learning and memory retention takes place.
In a study, it was discovered that apart from reducing neuroinflammation due to stroke in mice, Cannabidiol also helped increase neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.
CBD Helps Reduce Inflammation
Many studies have linked an overactive inflammatory response to a number of health conditions ranging from anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, depression to epilepsy, stroke, and memory loss.
Studies show that inflammation may also lead to brain fog and fatigue.
Research has found out that Cannabidiol may help slow down or control an overactive inflammatory response.
In a study involving mice suffering from stroke, CBD helped reduce neuroinflammation. By being able to reduce the brain’s inflammation, CBD helps prevent many symptoms associated with neurological conditions.
CBD Impacts Neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitters can be referred to as chemical messengers that our brain cells use to relay information.
In short, the brain uses the neurotransmitters to command your body parts such as the heart to beat, the lungs to inhale and exhale air, etc.
Neurotransmitters also affect other body functions such as concentration, sleep, feelings of happiness and sadness, etc.
For this reason, neurotransmitters must be kept at the optimal range at all times to prevent severe side effects due to imbalance. Factors such as poor diet, genetic predisposition, stress, and certain drugs may lead to neurotransmitters imbalance. This is where CBD comes in.
In a study involving depressed mice, CBD was found to increase neurotransmitters glutamate and serotonin levels.
The human brain is made of various sections including the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for controlling moods, executive functioning and personality. According to experts, serotonin boosts the functioning of this brain section.
On the other hand, serotonin glutamate acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter, which is released by the brain’s nerve cells. Glutamate plays a critical role in memory retention and learning.
CBD and Oxidative Damage
Free radicals in our bodies may lead to oxidative damage. Oxidative damage must be prevented since it contributes to age-caused decline.
Unfortunately, we can’t really avoid free radicals since they are produced in our bodies during normal processes such as eating, sleeping, and even breathing!
Factors such as stress, poor diet, and pollution may boost the production of these free radicals.
Since we already know that we can’t do away with the free radicals, how can we prevent their oxidation? By the use of antioxidants.
Well, luck is on our side since Cannabidiol boasts of unique antioxidant properties. Researchers actually argue that the antioxidant capability of CBD can be compared to that of vitamins E and C!
Although we have seen how CBD impacts the brain to achieve various health benefits, it is worth nothing that most of these findings comes from test-tube and animal studies. This means that, more research with a focus on the human brain is needed so as to ascertain exactly what happens to our brain when we consume or vape CBD.