Cannabis is usually associated with getting “high” because of its reputation, related to THC. THC has psychoactive effects, but it’s not the only component of cannabis. CBD is another major compound found in the cannabis plant, and in fact, cannabis can come in the form of either hemp or marijuana. When CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant, either from marijuana or hemp, it is non-intoxicating, even if trace amounts of THC are still present. New laws in recent years legalizing both hemp and marijuana in some areas have led to lots of research into the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD. Those benefits range from treating epilepsy to anxiety to depression to skin issues to sleep disorders to chronic pain to so much more. It has also led to the rising popularity of CBD in the form of oil, edibles, and topicals, which people seem to use liberally these days. While nothing conclusive has been reached about CBD’s health benefits as of yet, we do know for a fact that CBD impacts the body’s central nervous system as well as other parts of the body, including the brain.
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN (AND BODY) ON CBD
CBD interacts with the body by binding to receptors found on our cells’ surfaces. The body then experiences a physiological response. In our nervous system, we have cannabinoid receptors known as CB1 and CB2. THC mainly binds to cannabinoid receptors, altering memory, perception, and concentration, ultimately making us feels quite intoxicated. However, CBD does not exhibit much binding to CB1 and CB2. CBD binds more strongly to protein and serotonin receptors. Serotonin receptions impact our mood, our experience of pain, and how we sleep. CBD also may influence our vanilloid receptors, which influence inflammation and pain perception, and our orphan receptors, which participate in blood pressure modulation, bone reabsorption and density, as well as playing a role in the migration of cancer cells.
The only conclusive CBD research so far has been surrounding epilepsy. CBD use has been found to diminish the quantity and intensity of epileptic seizures. The body’s sodium channels exhibit abnormal movement in people with epilepsy, leading to brain cells problematically firing, which is the cause of seizures. CBD inhibits that inappropriate firing, thus helping with seizures.
STUDYING CBD’S THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS
Research on how CBD may assist with other health concerns besides seizures is largely underway. One of the most studied aspects of CBD aside from its relationship to epilepsy is its effects on inflammation. Inflammation happens when our immune system is trying to protect us some something dangerous entering the body. However, the immune system can have trouble differentiating between when something dangerous versus neutral enters the body. This can cause our body to respond with inflammation when it is unnecessary. Unfortunately, this can be harmful to our vital tissues.
This is where CBD comes in. CBD can cause immune cells to migrate. Therefore, when an inappropriate immune response begins, where the immune cells gather together at a specific location in the body, they cause inflammation. CBD can get them out of there! These are CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. This can be quite helpful for conditions like arthritis as well as heart and skin conditions caused by inflammation.
CBD seems to exhibit beneficial effects when it comes to brain diseases as well. Studies show CBD’s ability to inhibit the production of certain substances in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This may be connected to CBD’s anti-inflammatory abilities. Stoke damage is linked to the body’s inflammatory reaction as well, and CBD may be able to play a role there to improve stroke victim outcomes.
IS CBD A MIRACLE SUBSTANCE?
On top of all that, CBD has antioxidant properties that might be able to protect the brain by combatting our cells’ levels of oxidative stress. Because CBD binds to serotonin, our brain’s regulator of mood, pain, and sleep, it can help with things like depression and various sleep issues. Because CBD can influence orphan and nuclear receptors, it could also help treat or prevent bone diseases and cancer. Our body’s GABA receptors are in charge of relaxing the nervous system, and CBD interacts there as well, which seems to be linked to why CBD might be an effective treatment for anxiety and stress.
Overall, CBD targets over 65 areas of the body, so it is no wonder scientists and researchers want to explore all that it can do. Our bodies are complex systems of overlapping mechanisms. Because CBD interacts with so many of them, its potential to provide a positive impact on our health seems great. More research is needed to better understand how exactly CBD interacts with each of these bodily processes, but based on what is known so far, its ability to improve our quality of life in many ways looks promising.