How CBD Oil Affects Your Brain
Posted on March 28, 2019
By now, you’ve likely heard about cannabidiol or CBD Oil, one of the chemical substances known as cannabinoids found in the cannabis and hemp plants. What you may not realize is that CBD Oil has tremendous positive effects on the brain.
Here’s how it works.
CBD Oil, Receptors and Neurons
Our brains contain specialized cells called neurons that connect through tendril-like structures called synapses. Neurons communicate with each other by releasing neurotransmitters, chemicals that act as messengers to change the cell’s function based on the message received. Commonly known neurotransmitters are serotonin and dopamine, both of which affect mood and other body functions.
Neurons are sensitive to certain kinds of neurotransmitters, so they respond to some chemicals but not others. The response is based on the number and kind of receptors that reside on the cell. Think of receptors like a key and lock; if the neurotransmitter (key) fits the receptor (lock), the chemical message will go as planned.
The interesting thing is that these receptors are not only responsive to natural neurotransmitters produced by the body, but they are also responsive to plant cannabinoids like the ones found in CBD oil. When CBD binds to a receptor, it can influence the brain’s activity.
Researchers have determined that CBD Oil can influence many of our bodies’ receptor systems, and that is why it is so effective for so many ailments. CBD Oil has been found to have both anti-inflammatory as well as neuroprotective effects, so its therapeutic applications are extensive indeed.
The human body has two types of receptors, CB1, and CB2, located throughout the body. CB1 receptors are more numerous in the brain, and interact with the hallucinogenic compound THC (the most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis) to create the “high” effect for which marijuana is known. CB2 receptors are generally found outside of the nervous system, instead residing in the immune system to keep the body in balance (homeostasis).
CBD Oil for Pain
CBD can bind with receptors to increase a person’s own level of naturally-produced cannabinoids (called endocannabinoids). CBD OIl can also keep endocannabinoids from breaking down by affecting the enzymes that perform that breakdown function. Amazingly, CBD Oil can bind with receptors that usually bind to many drugs, and that is one of the reasons why CBD Oil is so effective for chronic pain. Did you know that the number one reason people use CBD Oil is to fight pain?
CBD Oil also has tremendous effects on serotonin receptors. In animal studies, researchers have shown that CBD Oil activates multiple brain serotonin receptors. This may explain why so many people worldwide have had success with CBD Oil in helping with anxiety.
In fact, research has shown that CBD Oil specifically targets the serotonin 1A receptor, and researchers are very excited about this possibility. The 1A receptor also binds with opioids and researchers say CBD binding could lead to treatments for opioid dependence, depression, anxiety, other mood disorders, schizophrenia, and even neuropathic pain. This receptor also plays a prominent role in nausea and vomiting, so CBD could show promise as an anti-nausea drug, particularly for chemotherapy patients.
Other Uses for CBD Oil
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first-ever plant-derived CBD drug. Called Epidiolex and made by British company GW Pharmaceuticals, Epidiolex is used to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. While the FDA has been hesitant even to entertain the thought of approving a cannabis-derived drug, the evidence from the Epidiolex clinical trials was simply too fantastic not too. The best part is that doctors can not only prescribe Epidiolex for these two seizures; they can now also prescribe it in an off-label use to treat many other ailments. Patients will definitely benefit from the FDA’s smart decision.
Naturally, more CBD research is definitely needed, and human clinical trials are needed in particular to prove the potential of CBD as a therapeutic agent scientifically. But the scientific evidence so far from animal trials is promising.