CBD has become one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, with over 18% of the population claiming they’ve used CBD.
As more people struggle to afford basic necessities, our culture is shifting toward more natural, accessible pain management. Enter: CBD oil.
You’ve likely heard of taking CBD for pain and anxiety, but exactly how does CBD affect the brain and body? What systems does it interact with to produce its incredible effects?
Keep reading to learn all about CBD’s fascinating journey through the body.
The Journey of a CBD Molecule
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally-occurring compound in hemp plants, also known as cannabis plants. Unlike THC, another common compound in cannabis, CBD will never make a person feel high or alter their consciousness. However, CBD does have anxiolytic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Here’s the simple breakdown of how that process works:
- CBD compounds develop in the cannabis plant
- CBD is extracted and formulated into products
- Consumer ingests, inhales, or applies CBD
- CBD enters the bloodstream through capillaries
- CBD stimulates the endocannabinoid system
- The endocannabinoid system signals the brain
- The brain responds by reducing pain and inflammation
Most people take CBD for anxiety, insomnia, or chronic pain relief. There are many ways to take CBD or hemp oil, including tinctures, topicals, inhalants, capsules, and edibles. CBD has become an excellent tool for stress and pain management because it’s easy to access and leaves you in total control.
How Does CBD Affect the Brain?
Research on CBD and its physiological and psychological effects is still very new. In a nutshell, CBD leads the body to produce more endocannabinoids, compounds which regulate sleep cycles, anxiety, and inflammation. When the brain receives signals from the endocannabinoids, it responds by regulating the body’s systems.
Before we dive into the details of CBD and brain function, let’s explore more about the endocannabinoid system.
Understanding the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) refers to a system of complex cell-signaling receptors. Researchers only discovered the endocannabinoid system in the 1990s, so many of its processes remain a mystery. So far, we know that the ECS plays a role in regulating these bodily functions and more:
- Sleep cycles
- Mood and stress
- Inflammatory responses
- Reproduction and fertility
You don’t need to consume any cannabis products to activate your ECS system. The ECS produces similar compounds all on its own, known as endocannabinoids. You can think of endocannabinoids like letters in the mail system, small messages the body uses to communicate and regulate.
Mail goes into mailboxes, and endocannabinoids are picked up by endocannabinoid receptors, which exist throughout your body. There are two significant endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mostly in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are in the peripheral nervous system.
When receptors pick up endocannabinoids, they send a signal to the brain to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. After the receptors pick them up, enzymes destroy the endocannabinoids.
CBD’s Indirect Effect on the Brain
CB1 and CB2 are the ECS receptors affected by CBD molecules. Some people assume that CBD molecules mimic endocannabinoids, but this isn’t quite true.
CBD molecules in the bloodstream actually stimulate the body to produce more of its own endocannabinoids and slow the enzymes that break them down. In other words, CBD says, “send more mail to those mailboxes, and don’t destroy the old mail yet!”
The mailboxes (receptors) receive more mail (endocannabinoids), which says something to the effect of “Hey! This isn’t right!” Then the ECS receptors send more messages to the brain, telling it to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and regulate the immune system.
Comparing CBD to THC
THC is still illegal in many states because of its psychoactive properties, but it can have some positive effects. Users of THC often report feeling increased creativity and relaxation. However, in high doses, THC can worsen anxiety and cause paranoia.
Interestingly, CBD can be used to mitigate these negative effects of THC. THC works by binding with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD doesn’t bind with these receptors, but it can effectively “drown out” the THC molecules with endocannabinoids.
Higher CBD concentrations in medical marijuana can allow users to enjoy the relaxing and pain-relieving effects of THC without anxiety and paranoia. CBD may still be a healthier option than THC because it doesn’t bind with the receptors. CBD encourages the body to produce its own compounds, rather than rely on external substances.
Benefits of CBD for the Brain and Body
Indirectly, CBD helps the brain restore balance to body systems. CBD can also have positive effects on the brain itself, including:
- Improved activation of serotonin receptors
- Reduced cortisol levels
- Treatment of epileptic seizures
- Treatment and prevention of psychological conditions
- Reduced pain perception
- Improved sleep quality
Recent research suggests that CBD may promote the growth of the hippocampus. Many people with schizophrenia and anxiety disorders also have a reduced hippocampus size. Growing the hippocampus through CBD may relieve some chronic conditions and prevent others, like Alzheimer’s.
The benefits of CBD are not limited to the brain and endocannabinoid systems. Users may experience positive results in other parts of their body as well, including:
- Joints: reduced pain from arthritis, gout
- Bones: increased bone strength and repair
- Stomach: improved gut bacteria, reduced nausea, appetite control
- Intestines: fewer colon spasms, improved IBS/IBD symptoms
- Heart: plaque prevention, anti-inflammatory
- Reproductive: increased relaxation, increased sex drive
Smart CBD for Savvy Shoppers
What should you say when your friend asks, “how does CBD affect the brain?” Here’s your brainy answer: Technically, CBD stimulates the endocannabinoid system, encouraging the brain to regulate your mood, pain signals, and other bodily systems.
In other words, CBD helps you achieve a naturally happier, healthier life. Take control of your health and well-being today; shop our selection of CBD products! Edit Article