CBD oil and the Brain

By | 25/02/2019

In previous articles, I have examined the impact of CBD oil on drug addiction, smoking and alcohol use disorder.

During my research on these specific topics, I was amazed by the immediate connection between CBD and the brain and the way it collaborates with the endocannabinoid system.

There are a lot of people asking me questions about how cannabidiol affects human brain. These questions are the reason I decided to write this article.

Fasten your seatbelts because we are about to start our journey into the most unexplored part of our body: our brain.

How did it all start?

If we said that the science of the brain is complicated, it would be a fairly mild statement. Our knowledge of astrophysics, quanta, nuclear physics and all this scientific stuff  is much broader than our knowledge of the human brain and its functions.

We have traveled to the stars and  we have explored the abyss of the oceans but our understanding about how the human brain works, is, I dare say, still abysmal.

Yet, things seem to be changing.

It  all started when a “bunch” of open-minded and stubborn (!!!!) scientists who decided to focus their research efforts on a plant used as a medicine for thousands of years: Cannabis

[Chinese medical texts document Cannabis as a cure-all. Unfortunately it has had a lot of enemies. Modern medicine, politics, religion (to name some) are forces responsible for the international witch hunt against it. I’ll come back with juicy details on this.]

The first scientific breakthrough was made in the early ‘60s , when a group of Israeli scientists led by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam  studying the cannabinoids, managed to isolate and identify the chemical structures of Cannabidiol (CBD, 1963) and Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC,1964).

That  was the stepping stone in discovering an endogenous (= originating, produced within an organism, existing in an organism) system present in all living creatures with vertebrae; in a few words, every animal except insects!! This system started evolving around 600 million years ago when complex life forms were sponges!!

The term Endocannabinoid System, used to name this system, derives from

  1. Endo (short from endogenous)
  2. Cannabinoid (chosen to “honor” the cannabis plant, the term refers to the compounds that activate the system)

The discovery of the ECS has triggered a growing scientific interest and research regarding the way cannabinoids interact with human brain and a revolution on preventing and healing health issues with the use of phytocannabinoids like CBD.

The Endocannabinoid System

Even though there is, still, a lot we don’t know about it, the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a network of cannabinoid receptors situated on the cells and spread throughout our entire body.

These receptors are linked to the human nervous system, which itself is linked to the brain.


Endocannabinoid System Balance
The ECS is responsible for the balance in our body

It controls a major part of the brain and other systems of the body:

BRAIN

  • Hypothalamus (keeps the body in homeostasis (balance)  as much as possible).
  • Pineal gland (produces and regulates hormones, including melatonin which is known to regulate sleep patterns).
  • Parathyroid glands (control the calcium in our blood and bones).
  • Thyroid gland (plays a major role in the metabolism, growth and development of our body)
  • Thymus (plays an important role in the development of a normal, healthy immune system).
  • Pituitary gland (produces hormones that help regulate the functions of other endocrine glands)

BODY

  • Pancreas ( helps in digestion and regulates blood sugar)
  • Adrenal glands (produce hormones that help the body control blood sugar, burn protein and fat, react to stress factors  like a major illness or injury, and regulate blood pressure)
  • Kidneys (remove dangerous toxins and excess water from the blood through urine, regulate blood pressure, red blood cell and acid balance)
  • Ovaries (produce and release eggs along with oestrogen and progesterone.

The list of the brain and body systems controlled by the ECS is more than impressive. It is obvious that it’s important for our health to have a balanced endocannabinoid system. It’s vital to have endocannabinoids doing their magic in our body and to supplement them with phytocannabinoids like CBD.

Use CBD oil

to improve your health

What exactly is the Endocannabinoid System

The ECS is formed by receptors and cannabinoids

Receptors

Scientists explain that agonists are bound to receptors in order to give the cell specific instructions

Confused? So am I. Let’s simplify the whole thing a bit.  

Imagine that a Receptor is a Lock.

ECS Receptors Lock
Receptors are like Locks

Every Lock has a corresponding Key (agonist)

ECS Cannabinoids Keys
Cannabinoids are Keys for the Locks

The role of the keys, which in our case are the cannabinoids, is to deliver a message with instructions to the cell.

The endocannabinoid system has two known Receptors :

Cannabinoid Receptors 1 (CB1) They are found mainly in the brain, the spinal cord and nerve endings where they can act to reduce the feeling of pain.

Their  presence is concentrated in areas associated with the behaviors they have an impact on, such as the hypothalamus (regulates appetite) and the amygdala (memory and emotional processing). They are associated with mood, behavior, perception and cognition among others.

Cannabinoid Receptors 2 (CB2) They are found in immune cells and the peripheral nervous system. They reduce inflammation and impact on the immune system

Cannabinoids

There  are two types of cannabinoids.

Endogenous (or endocannabinoids ) are produced by the body itself. Unfortunately, they are broken down at a high speed by enzymes like FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) and MAGL (monoacylglycerol lipase). This means they don’t stay in our body for a long period of time. The two of them we understand better are:

  • Anandamide (AEA). Possibly one the most crucial endocannabinoids, it is our body’s own antidepressant. Some scientists suggest it is useful in combating and inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
  • 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).  It is present at relatively high levels in the central nervous system. Its role is to regulate the circulatory system.

Endogenous cannabinoids are produced to activate essential body functions. According to Ethan Russo

deficient cannabinoid levels may be the underlying cause of numerous conditions.”

such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine etc.

How can we combat endocannabinoid deficiency? This is where exogenous cannabinoids come into play.

Use CBD oil

to improve your health

Exogenous cannabinoids are either

  • phytocannabinoids (found in cannabis products) or
  • synthetic cannabinoids ( human-made mind-altering chemicals with severe side effects; they can cause from hallucination and  paranoia to acute psychosis, brain damage and death)

In contrast with the endocannabinoids, exogenous cannabinoids remain in our body for longer periods of time. They activate our ECS more intensively, allowing it to be more productive that it would usually be.

The most famous  phytocannabinoids are THC and CBD.

THC is psychoactive and it has psychological effects. Yet, it has been found that helps with many health issues such as nausea, appetite, asthma and glaucoma. There is proof that THC works against cancer and long-term neuropathic pain.It also slows the growth of several cancers.

CBD is the less known cannabinoid. It is non-psychoactive and acts on a physiological level. It aids in inhibiting tumour growth. It reduces or prevents inflammation. Nausea, diabetes, PTSD, schizophrenia, arthritis, epilepsy, stress disorders are only some of the ailments it helps with.

It’s obvious that both THC and CBD are important to treat serious diseases. But there is a problem. How can we cope with the psychoactive effects of THC?

The Entourage Effect

CBD and THC are like siblings. And just like two brothers or sisters, they either work together in perfect synergy or combat each other.

THC has a symbiotic effect on the body when it is combined with CBD.

Receptors AndT heir Corresponding Cannabinoids

As you can see, CBD does not actually bind to any of the CB1 and CB2 receptors but instead it suppresses the enzyme FAAH (or ‘fatty acid amide hydroxylase’) which is responsible for destroying anandamide.

So what? (I can hear you !)

With FAAH out of the way, more anandamide stays in our system and for longer periods of time.

Anandamide binds to the CB1 receptor ( as THC does). With the anandamide-Key on the receptor-Lock, there are the least possible openings for THC to bind to. As a result its psychoactive effects are dampened.

Furthermore, a 2015 study showed that CBD binds to a site on the CB1 receptor different  from the THC binding site. From this site, it is able to change the shape of the receptor and cause less THC binding and  reduces the efficacy and potency of THC.

CBD VS THC
CBD reduces the potency of THC induced “high”

But when CBD and THC are combined, magic happens. The term entourage effect is used to describe the fact that each of these magnificent substances enhances the positive qualities of the other.  

For instance, while THC is known to cause stress and anxiety, when it is combined with CBD can cause relaxation and positive feelings. Furthermore, the pain killing properties of THC are improved when it’s mixed with CBD.

CBD and its Behavior in the Brain

Even though CBD doesn’t directly bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors, it collaborates directly  with other receptor systems to provide its beneficial effects:

  1. Serotonin receptor system. It affects mood, appetite and cognition. It regulates the production of cortisol (affects the metabolism and reactions to stress) and oxytocin( responsible for social behavior.CBD enhances serotonin receptors. This supports the theory that CBD can treat ailments like neuropathic pain and schizophrenia
  2. Vanilloid Receptor system. It regulates our body’s temperature, inflammation and pain perception.
  3. Orphan Receptor System. It modulates blood pressure and bone density. It is responsible for the multiplication and migration of cancer cells. In case of hyper activation, it causes osteoporosis. By blocking the ORS, CBD eliminates the potential health issues it can cause.
  4. Nuclear receptor system. Its activation by CBD  produces an anticancer effect and causes tumors to regress.

Neurological and healing effects  of CBD

Even though scientific research concerning the impact of CBD on the brain is still in embryonic stage, there are several findings that confirm its beneficial effects.

The list is of the healing properties of CBD is long. A review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids, published in 2018, describes in detail its numerous physical, psychological, and emotional benefits.

A light at the end of the tunnel

It’s difficult to understand the neurological effects of CBD because it interacts with various receptors in our body. Its complex, multi-target positive consequences may be the key to its potential as a therapeutic agent to several degenerative brain diseases.

Studies into the benefits of CBD for the brain are still underway, but the results have been positive.

Let’s be optimistic. It seems there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel that promises humanity a more healthy and less stressful life.  

Use CBD oil

to improve your health

If you have any questions or want to share any personal experience, please, leave a comment below.




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DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information provided is not meant to alleviate or cure any disease or disorder. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider for any medical condition.

24 thoughts on “CBD oil and the Brain

  1. Eddie

    Good article to read and I appreciate the video from the doctor. It helps to see that cdb oil has amazing healing properties.
    cbd oil is becoming popular but what do you think about the legal part of it? … I recently had an experience with Facebook and they have categorize cbd oil as an illegal substance.

    Reply
    1. Effie Post author

      Welcome, Eddie! Thank you for your comment! States and countries have been legalizing CBD lately. As far as Facebook is concerned, my page is about hemp products and I haven’t had any problems yet. Plus there tons of discussion groups about them. I don’t know what your experience was, but hopefully, Facebook will follow the international trend and will change their policy regarding it.

      Reply
  2. Jo Fontaine

    I’m very touched by that article because my best friend is still suffering from the accident she had 10 years ago at her job. She was so sick because of the medicine she had to swallow that she start to take cannabis. Now, she doesn’t have to hide herself because it’s legal in Canada. But the problem was her family. Her cousins are very religious, see? Anyway, she decided to be an open book with them. What happened? No judgment at all! Very happy to understand that some religious people are not narrow-minded.

    Always wonder how that substance creates those effects. A big thank you for your article, Effie. For sure, I will have to read it 2-3 times.

    Reply
    1. Effie Post author

      Thank you so much, Jo, for sharing your friend’s story with us. Hopefully, the era of prejudice will soon be over and narrow-mindedness will be substituted by knowledge. People were “bombarded” by anti-cannabis propaganda for so many years!!! I’m glad your friend found help for her health issues and her family stands by her!

      Reply
  3. Anastasia

    Ciao Effie, ancora una volta gran bell’articolo!
    E’ affascinante come CBD e THC interagiscono insieme. Grazie per tutte queste informazioni preziose, effettivamente parlando di Canapa il THC è sempre l’elemento di cui si parla di più. Continua con i tuoi studi, stai facendo un ottimo lavoro 🙂

    Reply
    1. Effie Post author

      Ciao Anastasia! Grazie della visita e del commento gentile.THC e CBD collaborano per dare il loro meglio al corpo umano. Ammettiamolo, però, THC è la stella che affascina ed impaurisce allo stesso tempo. Probabilmente perchè, di solito, abbiamo paura di ciò che non conosciamo.

      Reply
  4. Dan Strong

    Hi Effie,

    Thank you so much for this informative post. I love learning all about how CBD oil affects the body from your blog! The key and lock example was particularly helpful to understand how this works. The brain is so complicated, it’s often hard to understand even basic things as to how it works. I can’t believe all the positive ways that CBD oil can effect the brain. I know from experience that it definitely effects it positively however, because when I first tried it recently I was in a good mood all the time. That usually doesn’t happen. It was amazing. Reading all these great articles you write makes me realize I really need to order another bottle of CBD oil soon. Like yesterday LOL. Great stuff!

    Reply
    1. Effie Post author

      Welcome back, Dan! Your comments are always so encouraging! Thank you!!

      Reply
  5. Nida Ventura

    Wow! Very well researched and thought out article. I love that you touched almost everything on how CBD can help our brain and the whole body. It is also good that you mentioned about the synthetic cannabinoids which I have seen the effects from young patients that have used them. A young guy lost his vision after a severe stroke due to the use of synthetic cannabinoid.

    It would be good to see further studies and inclusion of CBD in our healthcare. Here in the States where I practice, I have seen so much conditions that warrants individuals to be frequently hospitalized due to chronic brain condition and other degenerative disorders. Thank you for this article.

    Reply
    1. Effie Post author

      Nida your experience in health care add value to every article of mine! Thank you !

      Reply
  6. Todd P Matthews

    Wow, I learn something new about the healing effects of CBD oil almost daily. The fact that it can remedy things like inflammation and even curtailing the growth of tumor cells, alzheimer’s, and even chronic pain makes me more of a believer in it. If studies show that it can go the whole nine yards in preventing and curing such diseases and disorders, it will definitely become a universal treatment method, or should I say, prevention and cure. There is a lot of magic in CBD and I can’t wait to see what these studies uncover later on.

    Reply
    1. Effie Post author

      I’m glad you feel you’ve learned something from my article Todd. That’s what I want to do: inform, teach, help people put aside their prejudice and embrace the magic CBD can do to their health. Thank you !

      Reply
  7. John

    Effie,
    There are some many good things about CBD oil. I have used it for a little while and it helps with depression and constant pain from a major injury.
    Your information just confirms that this is the type of product that I want to use for my future.
    Do you think it will help with Arthritis pain in an old injury.
    John

    Reply
  8. Karen

    Great article with in dept information on the benefits of CBD oil. There is so much we don’t know about how our brain works, but you share precious information on the effects and the synergies of CBD and THC to our brain. I have indeed learned a lot! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Effie Post author

      Karen you are right! We know almost nothing about our brain and its functions. Let’s hope science will shed some light on it soon. Thank you for your comment

      Reply
  9. Lorraine Whitworth

    Thank you for this informative article. There is so much that we don’t know about the power of our brain and how in fact we can change our reality if we so desired. I like the way you have likened CBD and THC to siblings who either get on with each other or don’t !! This is a very thorough and interesting article , very well written and easy to understand
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Effie Post author

      Lorraine welcome back! Both THC and CBD can do miracles to human health, I, personally feel that THC is regarded the bad son while CBD the good one.Perhaps because THC has some bad habits:-) that can be regulated by the good son of the family. The key-word is synergy, isn’t it?

      Reply
  10. Tatiana

    Very informative and detailed. Thank you for sharing, I’ve really never heard of this. Great article and explanations.

    Reply
    1. Effie Post author

      Welcome Tatiana! I appreciate your visit and your comment! Have a great day!

      Reply
  11. sebastian

    This is a really great article. I did not believe there could be so much information about the effects of CBD oil and THC creating some pretty interesting and amazing information. this post is filled with some very informative facts. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    1. Effie Post author

      Welcome to my website Sebastian! Thanks for the encouraging comment of yours!

      Reply
  12. Matt's Mom

    Wow! What thorough and great information! I can say once my son found the right mg strength of CBD oil, it has helped him tremendously with his OCD. Not that he doesn’t have it still. But he got uncontrollably angry over little things like moving his chair, or bumping his table. The list is long of things that bother him. But, since he has been using the CBD oil, he now does not have these angry outbursts or doesn’t frantically tell me to not bump his table every time I enter his room. It’s nice 🙂 It works!

    Reply
    1. Effie Post author

      Welcome back Leahrae! Cbd has enormous potential but we it hasn’t been studied enough yet. But your son’s story is the tangible proof of what it can do to our brain and the diseases and disorders associated with it.I think that when both the brain and CBD are thoroughly explored things will change.

      Reply

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