With the widespread legalization of cannabidiol (CBD) throughout the United States, you may be wondering how this powerful cannabis compound affects your long-term health and wellbeing.
Many people know that CBD is the naturally occurring oil found in cannabis that works to balance your body's Endocannabinoid System (ECS). It does this without the "high" associated with other compounds found in the plant, by regulating the breakdown, deactivation, and reuptake of the ECS' naturally-occurring compounds, known as endocannabinoids.
This important role has led researchers to study just how CBD alters your neural health over time to help uplift your health and wellbeing.
Understanding the Endocannabinoid System
To understand CBD's effects on your long-term neural health, it's important to recognize the vital role the ECS plays in keeping your body in an optimal state of balance. First discovered in the early 1990s, this system is a kind of "central command" center for all the other systems in your body. It properly regulates your internal processes through neural and hormonal signaling, and consists of three main parts:
Chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, known as endocannabinoids
Enzymes to break down these endocannabinoids
At least two key endocannabinoid receptors, known as CB1 and CB2
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CBD and Your Long-Term Neural Health
Just like your internally-produced endocannabinoids, the CBD found in cannabis is also a cannabinoid. However, since it is produced outside your body in the cannabis plant it is technically known as an exocannabinoid. CBD performs many of the same functions as your body's naturally occurring endocannabinoids, and can positively influence these compounds.
One of CBD's most powerful functions is its ability to inhibit the uptake and breakdown of the endocannabinoid known as anandamide, named after the Sanskrit word for bliss - 'ananda'. Anandamide works to positively influence your mental state by binding primarily to the CB1 receptors found in large numbers in your brain and spinal cord. When it binds to these CB1 receptors, it:
· Creates resilience to stress
· Improves cognition
· Assists with managing trauma
· Helps reduce anxiety
That's why CBD's ability to raise your anandamide levels allows for optimal functioning of your brain's synapses over the long-term, leading to thriving neural health. Take a look at what the latest groundbreaking studies reveal about CBD's many pathways for safely and effectively influencing your neural activity to guard against some of the world's leading neurological conditions.
Anxiety and Stress
One of the most well-documented benefits of CBD is its ability to help you manage your anxiety and stress levels. It does this by attaching to fatty acid boosting proteins (FABP) in order to enter your cells. There, it helps blocks a key enzyme known as fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) from breaking down anandamide. Since anandamide works in your brain's amygdala to help calm your fears and process memories related to traumatic experiences, CBD's ability to ensure it isn't broken down is key for managing your anxiety.
In addition, chronic stress is a leading cause of the inflammation that leads to many diseases and it also increases FAAH levels. CBD's ability to inhibit this excess FAAH from accessing and breaking down anandamide helps ensure that your moods are well-regulated. CBD also works more directly to moderate stress by activating a receptor known as 5-HT1A . This receptor helps activate your parasympathetic nerve response in order to bring you back to a state of balance after a stressful event.
CBD actually has several pathways to help you regulate your sensitivity to pain, making it a powerful analgesic for those with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia. Its ability to activate the 5-HT1A receptors in your body allows for the release of serotonin to help relieve your symptoms. It also binds to and positively modulates a receptor called the TRPV1, which is responsible for helping moderate your pain perception levels.
Anandamide also activates this TRPV1 receptor, and CBD boosts your anandamide levels, so cannabis oil can deliver a double dose of pain relief for those who are experiencing debilitating conditions.
More than 5 million people across the United States suffer from Alzheimer's Disease, a condition that progressively worsens your ability to recall events and perform simple tasks. The long-term effects of CBD on Alzheimer's are still being studied, and positive benefits have been discovered so far. The most promising is its ability to protect against the buildup of beta amyloid proteins that are one key indicator of the progression of the disease.
These plaque buildups have been shown to cause a number of detrimental issues, including DNA fragmentation, unhealthy oxidative stress from excessive buildup of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and eventually nerve cell loss. CBD's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties allow it to increase nerve cell survival by decreasing these harmful effects, and some research now indicates that it may even help deter the processes that lead to the production of beta amyloid in the brain.
Groundbreaking new research highlights how Parkinson's Disease (PD), which affects nearly 1 million Americans, is tied to the quality of bacteria in your digestive tract. This region is also known as your "second brain" because of its important role in creating neurotransmitters to communicate with nerves throughout your body. Imbalances in short term fatty acids and healthy bacteria in your gut can cause imbalances in neurotransmitters such as dopamine, GABA, and glutamate. This in turn leads to immune and inflammatory responses in your brain that are linked to the disease.
CBD has now been shown to help to increase the neurotransmitter dopamine in your body, which causes impaired motor skills in people with Parkinson's Disease (PD) when its' levels dip too low. CBD's antioxidant qualities are also key for reducing the high levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate that are associated with PD, making it a promising treatment for many of the disease's main symptoms including muscle tremors, rigidity, impaired balance, and reduced coordination.
The use of CBD as an anti-convulsant to help stop the seizures associated with epilepsy has been well documented for some time, beginning with an 1881 health manual out of London. Today, cannabidiol is considered such an excellent healing agent that it's being used in a treatment approved by the FDA for childhood cases of Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut Syndromes, two forms of childhood epilepsy.
There are several channels CBD takes to reduce seizures, and this may be why people with treatment-resistant epilepsy seem to show improvement in a significant percentage of cases. One of the key ways it helps reduce seizures is by inhibiting the reuptake of the anticonvulsant (reduced seizure) neurotransmitter known as adenosine so that its levels stay high. Just as in Parkinson's Disease, CBD also works by reducing the levels of glutamate present in your body, which lowers the 'excitotoxicity' - or nerve damage - associated with epilepsy.
Stroke and Head Trauma
It may be surprising to learn, but traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of disability and mortality in people under age 45. Stroke is also at the forefront for long-term disability cases, and predominately effects those over age 65. CBD can help limit neurological damage in both of these conditions, mainly because they both share a common trait: damage that limits blood supply (and thus oxygen) to brain tissue.
The resulting trauma to this tissue leads to the over-release of glutamate, causing nerve damage. It also causes an out-of-control inflammatory response aimed at healing, but which actually results in oxidative stress from the overproduction of damaging free radicals. Here CBD again steps in to lower glutamate levels and act as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory to help heal the injury site.
CBD's many balancing effects on your body's ECS, as well as its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities, makes it a promising long-term treatment for your overall neural health. Because of its many neuroprotective properties, scientists are continuing to study this potent healing oil in order to discover its additional pathways to creating thriving mind-body wellness.