2 Ways CBD Affects the Brain

With more and more people opening their eyes to the therapeutic effects of CBD, many are curious as to HOW it affects our brains. Cannabidiol (or CBD) doesn’t have the same psychoactive effects as tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC)¹. You won’t get “high” from intaking CBD even though it still comes from a cannabis plant. So, if you’re not getting high, what happens to your brain if it isn’t producing psychoactive effects? This article seeks to provide you will all the information you need on how CBD affects the brain.

1CBD Increases Your Brain’s Cannabinoids

The brain is so complicated, scientists still don’t understand every aspect of how it works. With that, it’s impossible to fully comprehend how CBD interacts with it. Still, there’s enough information to give us an idea.

Within our brains is something known as the endocannabinoid system (ENS)². This system naturally processes two distinct cannabinoid receptors throughout the entire nervous system. These receptors are CB1 and CB2.

When you intake CBD, it attaches itself to both CB1 and CB2 receptors and decreases their response time throughout the nervous system. So, if that’s the case, then how can CBD have such therapeutical effects?

The answer may lie in a variety of other chemicals that respond to cannabidiol.

For example, there’s a receptor known as 5-HT1A that has a strong effect on our serotonin neurotransmission. This chemical plays a major role in our mood and is often connected to certain mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression³.

Since 5HT1A interacts with our body’s natural endocannabinoids and CBD has the ability to increase the body’s cannabinoids, it’s believed cannabidiol might hold the potential to naturally raise serotonin levels.

2CBD Is Not Limited To The Cannabinoids

CBD is miraculous in the sense that it can go beyond our endocannabinoid system.

For example, research has found evidence that CBD distorts opioid receptors. In turn, many scientists are seeking out whether or not it can be used to treat opioid addictions⁴. This concept was furthered when it was found that CBD also interacts with dopamine, the chemical that makes us feel as though we’ve achieved a reward.

In another example, CBD has the ability to bind with TRPV1 receptors. These are vital to regulating our body temperature, inflammation, and tolerance to pain. It’s due to this interaction that CBD has been used as a treatment for both chronic pain, epilepsy, and spasmodic conditions.

Final Thoughts

Research is still limited in how much it can tell us about CBD’s interaction with the brain. Since the brain is such a complicated vessel, there’s a lot of areas to look into which scientists haven’t had the time to do. Primarily due to prohibition.

But now with more research underway, it’s safe to say we’ll begin to learn more about CBD and the brain. And with this knowledge, we’ll have the ability to develop further forms of therapy for people suffering from a multitude of illnesses.

Reference Sources

¹ Dialogues in clinical neuroscience: Cannabis, cannabinoids, and health

² Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal: The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain

³ PubMed: Agnostic properties of cannabidiol at 5-HT1a receptors.

⁴ Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment: Cannabidiol as an Intervention for Addictive Behaviors

⁵ Arthritis research & therapy: Cannabinoid-based drugs targeting CB1 and TRPV1, the sympathetic nervous system, and arthritis

3 Facts About the Endocannabinoid System

It wasn’t until recently (and thanks to cannabis) that researchers discovered what is known as the endocannabinoid system. A communication system within our bodies that plays major roles in the following¹:

  • Day-to-day experiences
  • Mood
  • Physiology

Within our endocannabinoid are a number of receptors. Chemical compounds from cannabis plants (cannabinoids, such as CBD) attach themselves to these receptors. In turn, we feel the effects of this attachment.

These effects will vary depending on what cannabinoid you’re discussing. For example:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): the most abundant cannabinoid found in marijuana will produce psychoactivity within a person².
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): the most abundant cannabinoid found in hemp will relax a person, ease pain, and not cause psychoactivity³.

There are a number of other cannabinoids found in the various cannabis plants. However, for this blog, we’re going to focus on cannabidiol.

1The Cannabinoid Receptors Within Us

Within your bodies, there are two types of receptors we’re going to look into⁴:

Cannabinoid Receptor Type 1 (CB1):

Resides in the brain (particularly our hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala), central nervous system (CNS), connective tissue, intestines, and our tesities/ovaries. They’re known for benefits, including (but not limited to):

  • Decreasing anxiety
  • Decreasing blood pressure
  • Decreasing depression
  • Decreasing fear and paranoia
  • Decreasing intestinal inflammation

Cannabinoid Receptor Type 2 (CB2):

Resides in our immune cells (particularly, B and T cells, macrophages, microglia, monocytes), spleen, tonsils, thymus. They’re known for helping people almost every type of known human disease, including (but not limited to):

  • Autoimmune
  • Bone and skin
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Kidney and liver
  • Neurodegenerative
  • Pain
  • Psychiatric

2How Does CBD Affect the Endocannabinoid System?

Most cannabinoids attach themselves to one or both cannabinoid receptors. For example, THC attaches itself to both CB1 and CB2 receptors in order to cause the “high” people associate with it.

However, CBD doesn’t actually bind to any of these receptors. Instead, CBD works on two other areas of the body which indirectly link to CB1 and CB2 receptors. These parts are:

  • TRPV1 Receptors: Responsible for body temperature, inflammation, and pain regulation⁵.
  • Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase: Responsible for creating more of certain endocannabinoids, such as anandamide. Anandamide is also known as the “bliss molecule”, causing feelings of pleasure and motivation⁶.

It’s due to CBD’s connection with these two areas of the body that we feel therapeutic relief from taking it.

3Does the Human Body Naturally Produce CBD

Since the body can naturally produce certain cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, some may ask whether or not it produces cannabidiol specifically.

Natural cannabinoid receptors are known as endogenous cannabinoids and work. These include⁷:

  • 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)
  • Anandamide
  • N-arachidonoyl dopamine (NADA)
  • Virodhamine (OAE)

In many regards, endogenous cannabinoids will produce similar effects to that of cannabidiol. However, since they are hydrophobic, it’s very difficult for them to travel far reaches across the body.

Due to this limitation along with the fact that they don’t always cause the body to react in the same way, endogenous cannabinoids cannot replicate CBD.

Reference Sources

¹ NCBI: Endocannabinoid system: An overview of its potential in current medical practice.

² National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Marijuana and Cannabinoids

³ International Journal of Molecular Sciences: Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System

⁴ NCBI: Cannabinoid receptors: where they are and what they do.

⁵ BioMed Central: Cannabinoid-based drugs targeting CB1 and TRPV1, the sympathetic nervous system, and arthritis

⁶ NCBI: Fatty acid amide hydrolase: an emerging therapeutic target in the endocannabinoid system.

⁷ HHS Public Access: An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system

Select the fields to be shown. Others will be hidden. Drag and drop to rearrange the order.
  • Image
  • SKU
  • Rating
  • Price
  • Stock
  • Availability
  • Add to cart
  • Weight
  • Dimensions
Shopping cart close