Since you're reading this post about how CBD affects the brain, the buzz about CBD oil must have reached your ears, or eyes. CBD is touted as a nearly miraculous treatment for a dizzying list of ailments, but how? We've got the answers below.
To answer the question how does CBD affect the brain, you should understand what CBD is. CBD is one substance in the vast family of cannabinoids. Yes, you read that correctly. It does sound like cannabis. The plant got that term because it was the most popular association with cannabinoids.
There is one particular cannabinoid, cannabidiol or CBD, that is in both the marijuana and hemp plants and is responsible for the physical and mental health benefits people typically associate with marijuana as well as many more benefits that are just being discovered.
The Endocannabinoid System
CBD benefits our mental and physical health because we have within our bodies an endocannabinoid system that actually produces its own cannabinoids. As with chemicals like serotonin, we need a certain amount of cannabinoids to be and feel healthy, and CBD taken from marijuana and hemp plants can help our bodies produce and regulate their own cannabinoids.
The endocannabinoid system regulates our mood, mental wellness, immune system, pain management, brain health, and more. This system contains two types of receptors, in the brain and throughout your whole body, CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are widespread, located largely in the brain and nervous system but also in the lungs, liver, and kidneys.
CB2 receptors are located in the immune system, spleen, and gastrointestinal system.
As you can probably picture, this far-reaching span of receptors makes cannabinoids a factor in many of our bodies' natural and crucial functions.
Cannabinoids also have positive impacts on many other aspects of the brain and body, creating a powerful multi-prong approach. Many of the exact mechanisms of how CBD affects the brain are largely unknown.
Homeostasis is the body's ability to maintain a constant, healthy state. For our bodies to function as they should, everything has to work together in a certain way like gears in a clock.
Endocannabinoids, made in our bodies, regulate many aspects of homeostasis because of that vast array of receptors mentioned above. If the body's cannabinoids aren't doing it as they should for some reason, or you need more of them, external cannabinoids from plants can manage your body's ability to create its own cannabinoids.
CBD Oil VS Marijuana
You have probably heard people discussing the nearly miraculous benefits of marijuana and wonder how CBD oil fits in? Are the effects of CBD on the brain the same?
Actually, CBD is better than marijuana.
Marijuana contains large amounts of THC and a little CBD. THC can produce many positive mental and physical health benefits, but CBD is more effective at it and provides broader-reaching benefits. So, the best part of marijuana, unless your aim is to get a "high", is actually a small part of its chemical makeup. That's an inefficient way to tackle a problem, like if your acetaminophen capsule actually contained much more of another drug. With hemp, you get the most beneficial part of the marijuana plant, a large amount of CBD and virtually no THC.
THC acts on the endocannabinoid system as a force unto itself. It has more noticeable benefits in a shorter term, but when its positive effects wear off, you may experience a crash or feel drained.
CBD helps the body regulate its own natural functions, producing more effective and longer-lasting results without any negative consequences, no high and no crash.
Because CBD from hemp doesn't make you high and isn't marijuana, it is legal in all 50 states. It shouldn't appear on a drug test unless it is a very detailed drug test and you're taking a large amount.
The Many Positive Effects of CBD on the Brain
There is a high concentration of CB receptors in the brain, and science is proving that impacting these receptors with CBD oil is effective at treating a dizzying amount of problems in the brain from mood to anxiety to pain management to seizures to neuroprotection.
CBD mood stabilizer for anxiety and depression
One of CBD's most common uses is to treat anxiety. Stress and anxiety are hard to beat, many people scoffing at the "reduce stress in your life" advice, but CBD is an effective, natural, and side effect free way to combat these issues. CBD stimulates activity of 5HT1A receptors, serotonin receptors, and dopamine receptors, blood flow to the amygdala, and other aspects of the brain that regulate happiness and fear response chemicals in the brain. CBD has been found to improve mood even more effectively than SSRIs.
Antidepressants are not as effective as they should be, largely due to the fact that so many people can't take them because of adverse side effects. For these people, CBD can be the perfect answer. It's a natural, non-prescription way to have a positive impact on your brain's happiness chemicals without negative side effects.
CBD and pain
CBD is an excellent non-addictive and side effect free method for relieving difficult acute and chronic pain. It regulates opioid receptors, similarly to powerful opioid medications and other effective pain medications without the dangers. Whether someone has suffered an injury, had surgery, or is dealing with arthritis or cancer pain. It is also a popular treatment for debilitating and hard-to-treat migraines.
CBD for sleep
CBD is also commonly used to help with insomnia and sleep disorders. It is not a sleeping pill, rather a way to improve your sleeping patterns. When taken regularly, it reduces daytime drowsiness, regulates REM sleep, reduces stress and pains that can impact sleep, has a sedative effect, and more.
CBD and seizures
CBD has provided positive results in several studies for reducing both the severity of and the number of seizures. The FDA has even approved a CBD drug in an effort to help children with some of the rarer and harder to treat conditions that cause seizures, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. CBD oil can be taken daily to prevent seizures, users have reported drastic and life-changing declines, from dozens of seizures a day to only a couple, or none. Some people claim to find results stopping seizures with a dose of CBD oil.
CBD neurogenesis and neuroprotection
Adult neurogenesis is the production of neural stem cells. Their role is unclear, but there is evidence that their growth impacts a wide variety of brain functions touching on cognitive ability, natural cognitive decline with aging, dementia, depression, and potentially other mental illnesses. Cannabinoids are proving to impact neurogenesis.
CBD has also had positive results in several studies over the years in protecting and even repairing neurons. Two of its most well-known successes are in controlling excitotoxicity, damage from certain overactive receptors in the brain, and oxidative stress, an imbalance of harmful free radicals and the bodies ability to fight them off. Both of these benefits are believed to be caused by CBD's impact on 5HT1A receptors. CBD effects on the brain offer solutions for Alzheimer's, brain damage from injuries like traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, strokes, Parkinson's disease, and more.
THC, found in marijuana, is believed to actually increase psychosis, so it is avoided when one is concerned about conditions involving psychosis. CBD might treat psychosis.
CBD has so far shown promise for managing psychosis such as schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease with psychosis. A study in 2012 found that CBD helped schizophrenia patients as much as typical medications without the bad side effects or high cost, and more research is being done to prove CBD's effectiveness for other types of psychosis.
Science regarding CBD is new, so many of the details regarding how CBD affects the brain are still unclear and it does not have general FDA approval at this time. This means we are not allowed to make promises that it can cure or treat an illness, but it does have significant scientific backing as an excellent option for finding relief in hard-to-treat ailments or finding natural means to treat ailments. It also has virtually no side effects. Many people look to CBD for these reasons to fill in the gaps traditional medications leave open and doctors are often willing to help patients explore CBD as a viable treatment, particularly when other treatments have been tried unsuccessfully.
How to Use CBD
CBD dosages vary by the individual and the ailment they are treating.
A person with a past of using marijuana may need a great deal more CBD to feel the same effects as someone who never has. Weight, age, and individual body chemistry are also important factors.
The desired effect also requires different amounts. For instance, if you take a small amount of CBD, it can increase your energy, so taking it at night to help with sleep may be ineffective. A higher dose of CBD has a sedative effect. It has also been found that less CBD oil is more effective than a large dose for seizure treatment.
Conduct research on CBD and the ailment you wish to treat and/or speak to a medical professional when determining what CBD dosage to start with. There are no general dose guidelines, but a medical professional can guide you with your personal needs and body chemistry. Sometimes CBD experts online can tell you what has been proven to work in studies or for previous customers for different ailments.
How Often to Take CBD
Sometimes, you will want to take CBD as needed, but many people and many ailments call for taking it at regular intervals. You may need to take CBD once or twice daily.
This works similarly to other drugs. For acute symptoms, or rarely occurring symptoms, you might take something only when it is needed. If you need a constant, longer term change, you need a constant amount of medication. For instance, to sleep. Some people do take CBD more than an hour before bed to help with sleep, but for most situations, this isn't the most effective method. You need to maintain a healthy sleep cycle, so you'll want to take some in the morning and at night. Whether you take the same amount both times depends on your needs.
Be Prepared to Tweak
You may have to tweak your dosage.
Thankfully, this is not dangerous. You can't overdose on CBD, and the worse side effects you could get would be sedation, diarrhea, or a loss of appetite.
Start on the low end of the dose scale and work up. 10 to 15 mg is what we've found is a sweet spot for most people and most conditions, but that means you can start lower if you want to and expect to possibly need 10 to 15.
If the condition you wish to treat works best with a larger amount, start with the lowest amount recommended for that ailment. 100 mg is the common target dose for insomnia, for instance. Start lower, but expect to probably end up needing 100.
You should wait a minimum of 2 to 4 days before changing your dosage, but it's best to wait several weeks, if you can. Some effect should be immediate, but full effects can take weeks for some people. Changing dosages too frequently is both unnecessary stress and a poor way to figure out what works.
Concerns with Taking CBD
CBD can impact the liver's absorption rate. Any other drug that is processed through the liver, which there are many of, may be absorbed more heavily or less heavily than normal.
This doesn't mean you can't take CBD with medications, but you should tell your doctor that you are taking CBD or increasing or decreasing your dosage as it can impact their dosages.
Drug interactions are limited to other sedatives and other drugs that impact serotonin. You don't want to get too sedated or experience serotonin toxicity. You should talk to your doctor if you feel you need both CBD and the other drug to see if they can work out safe dosages for you.
Choosing a CBD product
There are many forms of CBD oil you can take.
- take an oil tincture
- use a lotion or lip balm
- eat a candy
- eat a gummy
- take a capsule
- take an oil concentrate
Each method of using CBD oil has its own advantages. Some give you more control over the dose, some are more fun, and some are undetectable if you don't want to flash to everyone around you what you're doing.
Taste is also a factor. CBD oil tastes like hemp, which has a distinctive flavor that many people aren't fond of. Most CBD products are flavored to mask this taste. If you choose to purchase one that isn't flavored, you can still mask the taste on your own by taking your CBD oil with a food or beverage.
When first starting out with CBD, you should choose one of the products that allows you more dosage control so you can figure out what works with less trouble and less cost.
Tinctures and concentrates give you the most control.
You'll want to be sure to choose either full-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate. Both have their merits, but you need to know which you're buying so you know what works for you for future purchases. Full-spectrum CBD is the most popular option because it contains more cannabinoids, phytonutrients, and terpenes found in the whole plant. CBD isolate is just cannabidiol. Some people swear one works better for them than the other, so be sure to choose carefully. As the science is still so new, it's mainly trial and error. You could research your ailment and the various natural chemicals in full-spectrum CBD oil to see if there is evidence that you require full-spectrum. You would probably have a particular need for full-spectrum to treat ADHD, for instance, as the whole plant contains so many other benefits to help those with ADHD.
Make sure to buy CBD products that:
- tell you where the hemp was grown
- has third-party test results available for viewing
- have the smallest amount of ingredients possible and/or natural and organic ingredients
- was extracted using the cold CO2 method
You might start with VitaLeaf naturals, as we do all of these things. We've been serving pets with hard-to-treat ailments since 2005 and are now offering similar products to our human customers.
The Future of CBD
The future is exciting for CBD oil. More than 1,000 studies are conducted each year to learn how CBD affects the brain and body and prove its effectiveness for treating different ailments, with results saying, "this looks great, let's keep finding out more about how this works," and "It helps with this too? What else does it do?" Of course, those are not actual quotes, but the general sentiments.
Many doctors are knowledgeable about the benefits and uses of CBD oil, and their willingness to recommend it as secondary and primary treatments increases all the time.
Medications exist worldwide using CBD oil, even some in the United States. More will be coming.
More research is being conducted on different cannabinoids, so there will likely be more cannabinoids to get excited about. Scientists are also looking for proof of other cannabinoid receptors that they suspect exist, helping us further understand how cannabinoids work and what all they can help with.
At VitaLeaf, we can also bring the future to you today. We are scientists, familiar with how CBD affects the brain. Tell us your issues with a current CBD oil product or the specifics of your hard-to-treat ailment and we'll work on a product specifically for your needs.