The marijuana market is worth $55 billion. As new states legalize its use for medicine, recreation or both, most believe it will continue to grow.
One of the chemicals undergoing scrutiny for potential benefits is CBD. Because CBD may have neurological benefits.
Many of the studies tested effects on animals and not humans. Keep in mind, while those tests look good, they cannot make a definite correlation yet.
Keep reading to learn a bit more about the positive effects CBD may have on brain health.
CBD vs THC
Most people are familiar with the chemical THC. This chemical, when metabolized and absorbed by the brain creates a high. CBD, while also present in marijuana, doesn’t cause a person to get high.
The buds of the marijuana plant contain high amounts of THC. However, when seeking CBD, you want the stems and seeds of the hemp plant.
The distinction between marijuana and hemp lies in THC content. To classify a plant as hemp, it must have less than 0.3% THC. At that low amount, no one could possibly get high.
One final note, you can buy CBD oil over the counter anywhere in the US. But this has a very low percentage of actual CBD in it. If you take it, you may not notice any benefit.
This article won’t get into the infinitely complex workings of the human brain. But you should understand some terms. Nerve cells, known as neurons, don’t actually touch one another.
Neurons send chemicals across space between cells. One side sends and the other side receives. The spot which receives them is called a receptor.
With that in mind, CBD binds to receptor sites that caffeine also binds to. When caffeine binds there, it wakes you up in the morning. When CBD binds to these sites, the brain slows and provides the user with deep and restful sleep.
While only anecdotal, this seems promising as a sleep aid. Serving size, though, varies by a wide margin from person to person and situation to situation.
Anxiety, stress, and depression plague our society. CBD may provide aid in one of the most important areas of brain health, that of mental health. It does this because of the way it interacts with the serotonin system.
Every other week some news article comes out relating mental health to some problem. Whether the news blows things up or not, intuition seems to confirm this problem.
CBD may not fire a magic bullet at all mental health problems. But the evidence points to anxiolytic properties. Anxiolytics ease symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, and stress.
If researchers prove this connection, it could be applied all over.
Another system affected by CBD is the dopamine system. One of the biggest issues with drug detox and withdrawal occurs in this system.
Dopamine, put simply, releases as a reward. You crave something sweet and so you eat a bar of chocolate. The brain releases dopamine as a reward for the pleasure of chocolate and sugar.
You start working out and have to buy pants or a dress one size smaller. The brain again releases dopamine to reward your efforts toward a goal.
This release of dopamine builds your motivation to workout again. When you use drugs, the brain releases dopamine as a reward. Occasional use allows the brain to return to normal.
Long term use changes the effect of dopamine. After heavy, regular use, the brain requires drugs to produce dopamine at all.
CBD can aid the dopamine system in returning to a balance. This would allow the brain to produce it as a natural response to eating, drinking, etc.
Helping the Hippocampus
Another area of brain health which may receive benefits from CBD is the hippocampus. The hippocampus governs the formation of new memories, affects emotional response and aids in spatial awareness.
Everyone has walked into another room and then forgotten why they went there. That’s the hippocampus failing to do its job.
And the reason you have such a hard time remembering? The hippocampus didn’t send that short term memory over to another area to become long-term.
This explanation oversimplifies the actions of the brain, but time and space have limits.
CBD may help the brain build new neurons in the hippocampus. With this increase in size, would come improved memory. It would also aid in emotional regulations.
Someone with poor spatial reasoning might benefit from this enlargement also. You won’t become an expert map reader or suddenly master chess.
But you might be able to find your way around easier. Or you may make new connections between locations.
Degenerative Brain Disorders
Anything that helps brain health also looks at their effects on Alzheimers and Parkinson’s. At this time, CBD holds some hope of protecting healthy brain cells.
But very little testing has been done on repairing damaged cells.
The Jury is… Still Out
So far, CBD holds some promise of boosting overall brain health. Even if all it ever managed to prove was a sleep aid and anxiolytic, thousands would benefit.
In the meantime, research will continue. Also, in a few years marijuana will probably be legalized in the US. After that happens, research will happen at a faster pace.
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