What Is The Effect Of CBD On The Brain?

By Dipa Chauhan-Patel | January 2, 2019 | ,

Collectively, when a person looks at the research available for whether something works and the side effects, not many things can compare to something as natural as CBD. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma around CBD since it has been typically associated with outdated dogmas that are funded by groups like alcohol and big pharma to try and use scare tactics.

There are different receptor sites for CBD in different regions of the nervous system.

But what is the research starting to show? First, let’s cover a topic that is actually becoming the number one killer among older populations – neurodegeneration. These types of disease processes not only affect the person, but their close loved ones as well.

Alzheimer’s is fast becoming more and more prevalent and the different types are based on what areas of the brain are being affected and why the brain is being assaulted, usually by it’s own immune system called microglial cells. Lifestyle factors like insulin resistance and overfeeding, staying up late, chronic stress, being sedentary are big drivers, but so are issues like a leaky gut, head injuries and infections. Several articles have pointed to the fact that the plaques appear to be a final process of the immune system to try and keep pathogens from spreading further into the brain.  The current model is to try and stop or reverse the symptoms after they have started, which can sometimes be like trying to stop an avalanche. What most people don’t know is that most neurodegenerative processes start in the 20’s and 30’s, but the brain finally can’t take it anymore after 30 or more years and symptoms start to really show.

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative process that affects movement and can have different types as well, with the most aggressive being Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. The latter is usually determined when drug intervention like L-DOPA/Carbidopa don’t work or actually make it worse. Neuroinflammation is a classic hallmark of these types of disease and is becoming more well known to start in the GI tract and the toxins travel up the vagal nerve to get inside the central nervous system. Although showing promise, there are mixed results using CBD in Parkinson’s since the reason that is happening isn’t always the same.

Huntington’s disease is also a movement disorder, but unlike Parkinson’s it is more fluid like movements called chorea than tremors. Even though there is usually a genetic component for most neurodegenerative diseases, Huntington’s is more well known to be genetic where the nucleus of a cell may have trouble with key genes like Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (like growth hormone for the brain). Most of the studies done are only done with 1 or 2 of the active ingredients or ‘isolates’ of CBD and it is being suggested that a full spectrum of the plant would be more effective.

Research for ALS is scarce, and more studies are being done. For now, it appears that a reduction in inflammation could help slow the progression of this disease of the spinal cord by helping protect neurons.

Research for CBD and depression is looking promising. It has been shown to alter other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, glutamate, and GABA so the effectiveness can vary from person to person. The good news is that if it works, it works relatively fast compared to drugs that can take 2-3 weeks to fully get into the system.

The research for CBD and certain types of seizures is getting more promising. Some of the key points are: CBD has anti-seizure properties and lacks psychoactive effects. Adjunctive CBD is effective in reducing seizure frequency in people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet Syndrome. The most common adverse events are somnolence, decreased appetite, and an increase in liver enzymes. It appears that these adverse events are typically due to a drug-drug interaction with medications such as clobazam and valproate.

Not all CBD is created equal. Lots of brands on the market are derived from isolates, whereas a full spectrum hemp has over 400 biologically active compounds such as cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and minerals. Lots of brands are oil-based which is usually only absorbed only from 3-6%, whereas a better delivery system has been shown to be liposomal and micelles. Liposomal is usually referred to as a ‘timed-release’ whereas micelles are absorbed more rapidly. This allows for the CBD to stay in the bloodstream for up to twelve hours as opposed to oil based which is only about three hours. It is important to always discuss starting something like CBD with your doctor. The kind that is recommended to our patients that could benefit from CBD can be found here

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