Any subject involving the brain is bound to be complicated. For one thing, there are still a lot of mysteries about our most important organ that we still don’t understand, and what we do know can often times use language and concepts way too complex to really get a grip on. With CBD, we get the advantage of having brand new research to look at that builds on everything we already know about how the brain functions, specifically in seeing how it reacts to different substances. These studies will help us understand the big “why” and “how” questions of CBD, such as how and why it creates therapeutic effects, and how else it might benefit our brains. Based on what has been observed so far, there’s a clear picture being formed that CBD can be so much more than just a mood enhancer or stress and anxiety aid. Let’s take a look at just how CBD really is interacting with our brains, what that means, and what it can tell us about the future of CBD.
The Endocannabinoid System
We all know that cannabinoids are the compounds found in hemp products that produce the therapeutic effects in us, but we don’t actually have to take them in from an outside source. Humans already naturally produce cannabinoids as a way to help regulate mood and other functions through our endocannabinoid system. This system, which is a series of cannabinoid receptors that react to natural and hemp sources of cannabinoids, is responsible for influencing things like memory, appetite, pain, and more. So, when one of those things is not functioning properly, the body naturally creates cannabinoids to return it to normal. You can think of them as stabilizers inside our bodies working to make sure everything is functioning as it should. However, there is a condition called clinical endocannabinoid deficiency, in which a person’s body is unable to create enough cannabinoids on its own. Research has shown that supplementing with hemp cannabinoids, most notably CBD, could be a safe and effective treatment.
CBD and the Brain
If you ever wondered why CBD doesn’t get you “high” like THC does, despite them both being cannabinoids, the answer is in how they interact with the cannabinoid receptors in your brain. THC binds directly with the cannabinoid receptors just like the cannabinoids you produce naturally, while CBD stimulates your body to produce more of its own cannabinoids instead. The endocannabinoid system has two main receptors called CB1 and CB2, with CB1 mostly located in the brain and CB2 primarily in the body. One way CBD influences your endocannabinoid system to provide those therapeutic feelings is to inhibit the enzyme that breaks down anadamide. Anadamide is one of the body’s natural cannabinoids and has been the subject of many studies for its ability to evoke feelings of calm and happiness in the body. Scientists have even claimed it is responsible for the “runner’s high”, which was previously thought of as purely an endorphin boost.
Other Ways CBD Interacts
Aside from our cannabinoid receptors, CBD can possibly interact with other systems in our bodies as well. As CBD travels through the bloodstream into the brain, it can impact other neuron receptors with a matching molecular structure, such as the opioid and dopamine receptors. This is why CBD has gained the reputation of being a possible pain management treatment. Our natural mood regulators are primarily serotonin and dopamine, with low or depressed moods being a possible indication that these chemicals are low. While there have only been a few studies so far, with many more needed to prove anything conclusively, there are indications shown that CBD can help in increasing neurotransmitter levels. This, in a nutshell, increases the production of these chemicals between your synapses, thus improving your mood. CBD is also being looked at as a way to help protect the brain from overactive neural activity and oxidative stress, which are caused by your brain cells firing too rapidly for too long due to some kind of disruption. At this point the exact way CBD interacts with the body to help in this way, meaning it is just another well of information waiting to be explored.
The brain is a tricky, complex thing. Because it’s so complex, it sometimes doesn’t function quite perfectly for one reason or another, but more often than not we have no idea why. Through our knowledge of our own endocannabinoid system, we have gotten a good head start on being able to understand how hemp based cannabinoids like CBD will work in our bodies and brains, but there are still a lot of things we don’t fully grasp yet. Studies are still being done, and will be for years, to really figure out how CBD does what it does. However, based on the studies we have so far, as well as the first hand experience of people utilizing CBD products, nearly everything points to CBD being a safe and positive aide to our body’s natural systems.