CBD is one of over 110 cannabinoids produced by cannabis. It is also abundant in the hemp plant. THC is famed for its ability to cause an intoxicating high. In contrast, CBD is non-intoxicating. Nonetheless, there is evidence that both compounds have possible therapeutic effects. This is part of the reason why CBD for sale is now an exciting proposition.
The possible benefits attributed to both are down to their respective effects on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS contains endocannabinoids, naturally produced cannabinoids, that bind to receptors located throughout the body. The ECS helps regulate various things such as appetite, pain, and memory.
CB1 and CB2 are the main cannabinoid receptors, though scientists are confident that there are more. CB1 receptors are mainly found in the central nervous system (CNS). They help regulate mood, pain, coordination, and other crucial functions. CB2 receptors are primarily in the immune system. They have an impact on inflammation and pain.
The Difference in How THC & CBD Impact Receptors
THC’s effects are akin to those caused by anandamide, nicknamed the ‘bliss’ molecule. It binds to our CB1 receptors, which are responsible for many of the cannabinoid’s intoxicating effects. In fact, THC binds more closely to anandamide’s CB1 receptors than the molecule itself! Anandamide prevents the release of other neurotransmitters, which is part of the reason why we feel a euphoric high after using marijuana.
In contrast, CBD has a significantly less potent effect on the ECS’s receptors. It only binds loosely to CB1 receptors. This action actually blocks the receptors, thus reducing the effects of THC.
Now that you know some basic differences between CBD and THC let’s find out more about CBD and the brain.
How Do CBD Products Affect the Brain?
Relatively few people have heard about the process of excitotoxicity in the brain, yet it plays a huge role in neurodegenerative diseases. It is a term used to describe the damage caused when the brain cells become excessively active due to too much stimulation. Excitotoxicity can happen after a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or even hearing loss.
The Neuropsychopharmacology journal published a relevant study in 2019. It analyzed the impact of CBD on brain excitation and inhibition systems. The researchers recruited 34 male volunteers, half of whom had autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They found that CBD potentially shifted GABA+ and Glx metabolites, which could help with some of the symptoms of ASD. However, the team pointed out that further studies were required.
There is also a possibility that CBD reduces oxidative stress, which occurs at the cellular level. Cells produce free radicals whenever they generate energy. Environmental toxins also produce this waste product. The body utilizes antioxidants to deal with free radical production and ensure the damage they cause is minimized.
Unfortunately, an excessive level of free radicals could result in the loss of DNA particles. This is especially the case if the body doesn’t create enough antioxidants. This process is linked to medical conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
CBD’s impact on CB2 receptors may help reduce oxidative stress. Cannabidiol also appears to have antioxidant properties. According to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2014, CBD products’ long-term usage led to antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.
CBD for the Brain – The Future Is Now
It is specifically CBD’s capacity to target the serotonin 1A receptor that offers the greatest range of possibilities. This ability could help CBD deal with disorders such as depression, neuropathic pain, and anxiety disorders. It could even help reduce opioid dependence. Given that opioids kill almost 1,000 people a week in the United States, CBD’s potential to reduce opioid usage makes it worth further examination.
The primary issue regarding CBD products is the relative lack of research. The 2018 Farm Bill helped legalize the growth of industrial hemp. While it didn’t lift the federal ban on CBD, it all but provided the green light for increased usage. The sheer size of the market means that researchers now take CBD’s effects on the brain seriously.