How does CBD influence the brain?
Used for centuries to treat medical conditions, cannabidiol (CBD) is a safe, natural compound that can be used to help with everything from inflammation to anxiety to epilepsy. As one of the 421 chemicals in the cannabis plant, CBD is the primary medicinal component found in the leaves and flowers used to relieve pain and the effects of inflammation, among many other uses.
The benefits of CBD come mostly from the effect it has on the brain through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. This article is going to outline the amazing effects cannabidiol has on the brain, how it can help you, and the various formats available for potential users.
How CBD Works In The Brain
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system which forms part of the nervous system found in all mammals, including some invertebrates like sea urchins, leeches, mussels and nematodes. To understand how the endocannabinoid system works, it’s important to get an overview of how the overall nervous system works.
The nervous system forms the network where messages are sent all over the body through the use of neurotransmitters that “transmit” messages to the entire body and receptors that receive those messages.
The brain can be thought of as the control center in this entire process that governs the activity and function of the endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is an internal network within the nervous system that has a special type of neurotransmitter called endocannabinoids from which it derives its name.
The “endo” part means that it is internal to the system, and cannabinoids are specialized neurotransmitters that interact with their specific cannabinoid receptors.
CBD is a phytocannabinoid. “Phyto” is the Greek word for “plant” (φυτό), meaning that this plant-based neurotransmitter is exogenous to the system. The actions of phytocannabinoids mimic the effects the endogenous cannabinoids, offering a variety of therapeutic benefits.
The endocannabinoid system is still under extensive research, yet generally considered to play an important role in regulating many physical and brain-related cognitive processes. These include processes related to perceptions of pain, emotional states and physical states related to inflammation.
CBD & GABA Neurotransmitters
Relaxation in the nervous system is promoted by gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. This is a critical neurotransmitter that winds down the activities of the nervous system and helps a person relax.
Extreme stress can often bring about an increased heart rate and blood pressure, often leading to an inability to relax and/or fall asleep.
GABA helps to counter this process through its action on the body that reduces heart rate and blood pressure, calming the mind and producing ideal conditions in preparation for sleep.
Many researchers attribute anxiety attacks, insomnia, lowered immunity and digestive issues to issues with GABA function. CBD doesn’t activate the GABA receptors but rather acts like a modulator that helps GABA bind to receptors.
The GABA-promoting effects of CBD can also help other issues resulting from an overstimulated brain, including panic attacks, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many anti-anxiety medications available by prescription are thought to work in a similar manner such as Xanax, Valium and Klonopin. CBD is considered to be a safer alternative that does not produce withdrawal symptoms, even after extended use over long periods of time.
Conditions Treated With CBD
CBD has been suggested as an effective treatment for a wide range of diseases ranging from severe diseases like cancer to less serious problems like skin conditions.
While CBD cannot cure everything, its work with neurotransmitters and receptors can help relieve symptoms of diseases and any underlying dysfunction. While treating symptoms alone does not cure disease, CBD can help manage symptoms while the condition is looked at from a holistic perspective.
CBD has been widely researched for a variety of conditions. The following list represents a small sample of diseases that have been studied in connection with CBD treatment:
CBD has developed a reputation for having strong anti-inflammatory effects. Many diseases have associated inflammation as an effect that can cause pain and dysfunction.
Panic attacks and anxiety bring on sudden feelings of fear and instability as a response to intense mental, physical or emotional stressors in the body. Since CBD works on GABA receptors, feelings of anxiety and panic can be reduced through increased relaxation and reduction of muscle tension.
A successful 2019 study on CBD and anxiety showed decreased anxiety within the first month in 80% of the 72 adults studied, prompting researchers to conclude that CBD may benefit anxiety-related disorders.
Epilepsy is a chronic nervous system disorder that causes seizures resulting from sudden rushes of electrical activity to the brain. While thought to have many causes, it has been determined that epilepsy is generally related to underlying brain dysfunction.
Research studies have demonstrated that CBD can reduce seizures. An important study conducted in 2016 observed 74 people with treatment-resistant epilepsy that were treated with CBD. After an average time period of 6 months, the participants demonstrated an 89% reduction in seizures.
CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system and effect on GABA receptors has been shown to have a pain-reducing effect as documented by a comprehensive review recommending further research into the use of CBD for pain management.
How to take CBD?
There are many ways to take CBD, depending on the condition treated. From topical to internal methods, there are several treatment methods available for almost every type of consumer.
Balm infused with CBD works under the skin to interact with endocannabinoid receptors to relieve pain. Besides its common use in helping muscles recover after high intensity-workouts, it can also help relieve pain from chronic injuries.
Working internally with the endocannabinoid receptors, CBD drops provide relief for various conditions without requiring the user to smoke or ingest edibles.
Made from the resin of the cannabis plant, CBD hash consists of the essential oils pressed into solid bricks that can be smoked or used in cooking.
For users who like the experience of smoking, CBD Herb can provide pain-relieving effects of CBD without the high caused by THC.
Composed of pure CBD Isolate, CBD powder is derived entirely from THC-free hemp. This versatile crystalline powder can be incorporated into smoothies, cooking, or infused into a tea.