Unfortunately, in many ways the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in many states has overshadowed the older push to utilize cannabidiol (CBD) products for medical use. Academic studies examining the medicinal benefits of CBD regimens have been conducted for several decades now and with the legalization of medical cannabis in many countries, and in individual states in the United States, these studies have become more frequent, which in turn has led to a greater understanding of CBD oils.
Early studies have shown CBD oil regimens have been efficacious in mitigating the effects of many health ailments, including but not limited to epilepsy, ulcers and other stomach ailments, anxiety, sleeping problems, and cancer (Maroon and Boost 2018). As a potential user of CBD oils for medicinal reasons, it is in your best interest to understand how CBD oils work and precisely how they affect the body to produce neurological benefits. This article briefly explains how CBD works and the neurological benefits it can provide in an informative, yet comprehensible. Ultimately it will be shown that there are several neurological benefits to a CBD regimen, but is important to know how the process works in order for your regimen to be more effective.
A Background on the Endocannabinoid System and Cannabinoid Receptors
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system in every human that is involved with a variety of biological and cognitive processes relating to such things as tissue healing in regards to inflammation and the reduction of pain caused by inflammation (Fine and Rosenfeld 2013). The ECS is also a key regulatory mechanism of the brain that controls mood, pain perception, learning, and memory. Studies have shown that the ECS may also provide a neuroprotective role during traumatic brain injury (Kendall and Yudowski 2016). This complicated system essentially comes to life and gives these positive effects through what are known as cannabinoid receptors.
Cannabinoid receptors are a class of cell membrane receptors in the G protein-coupled receptor family. There are two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, both of which play important roles in the proper operation of the ECS and its regulation of such things as pain and inflammation. CB1 receptors are expressed mainly in the brain, while CB2 receptors are primarily found in the cells and tissues of the immune system (Kendall and Yudowski 2016). Cannabinoid receptors were first identified by academics studying the effects of Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannibinaol (THC), which is the constituent in cannabis that gives marijuana its intoxicating effect, and it was determined from those studies that CB1 receptors are found in high levels in brain regions expected from the effects of THC, but in low levels in regions unaffected by cannabinoids (Mackie 2008).
The cannabinoid receptors work by signaling through the G proteins, thereby initiating the process that induces positive effects in the ECS. All of this may sound quite complicated, but for one on a CBD regime it is actually quite simple. CBD, when taken in high enough doses, have been shown to bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors (Fine and Rosenfeld 2013). The receptors then interact with the ECS in the user with the result being a mitigation in a variety of symptoms associated with maladies that affect the ECS. There are a plethora of neurological benefits from a CBD regime that will now be examined.
The Neurological Benefits of a CBD Regime
Now that basic functions and biological processes of the endocannabinoid system have been explained and how CBD works within that system, some of the neurological benefits of a CBD regimen will be discussed. One of the primary and most apparent neurological benefits of a CBD regimen is pain reduction. Chronic pain is the result of many different ailments and diseases and when left untreated has a negative impact not only one one’s physical health, but also mental and psychological well-being. Traditional pain relief methods and drugs have too often proved to be unreliable and sometimes just ineffective with success usually being measured in small increments. Recent studies have shown that cannabinoids influence opioid receptors, which regulate pain, allowing for CBD to be utilized in pain reduction (Fine and Rosenfeld 2013).
Clinical trials have demonstrated that patients with chronic neuropathic pain experience reduction in the length and intensity of that pain while on CBD and THC regimens, although it still remains unclear where the effects are triggered (Fine and Rosenfeld 2013). Closely related to pain and often the cause of it is inflammation, which researchers know a little bit more about, at least in terms of its relation to the ECS and how CBD can mitigate its effects.
Studies indicate that CBD interaction with CB2 receptors reduce neuroinflammation, helping mitigate the effects, including pain, of a variety of diseases, conditions, and afflictions. For example, CBD use is credited with reducing inflammation after brain trauma and among specific afflictions it has been shown to reduce the inflammation caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) (Maroon and Boost 2018). The reduction in inflammation in patients with MS mitigates the often debilitating symptoms of that disease, which can keep a person bedridden or unable to speak properly, allowing a person on a CBD regimen a more active and pain-reduced life.
Other studies have indicated that THC is also conducive to the alleviation of pain and inflammation caused by certain neurological conditions, but due to its intoxicating effects and some of its side effects, such as short-term memory loss, patients are often reluctant to use it and medical professionals are often equally resistant to assign a THC regimen to their patients. Recent studies appear to show that CBD used with THC mitigates some of the negative side effects of THC, while enhancing its therapeutic value in regards to inflammation and pain reduction. Both CBD and THC have been effective in reducing the effects of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Huntington’s Disease (HD), Lewy Body Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease (PD) (Maroon and Boost 2018). Finally, CBD regimens have been shown to be beneficial for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Maroon and Boost 2018), which although more psychological than physiological in origin, is still connected to the ECS and the neurological system.
Very Few Disadvantages to a CBD Regimen
Perhaps the greatest advantage to doing a CBD regimen is that there are relatively no adverse effects. A recent study conducted on human volunteers with epilepsy has demonstrated that prolonged exposure to CBD at doses of 3-4 milligrams resulted in no observable adverse effects with no evidence of toxicity. There are also no known fatalities associated with CBD use, which means that it is virtually impossible to overdose (Fine Rosenfeld 2013). CBD use is also not addictive and when compared to other drugs most often prescribed to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain, namely opioids, a CBD regimen is a far safer alternative.
Although researchers and scholars are still learning how the endocannabinoid system works, monumental advances in the field have been made over the last thirty years. Nearly every study has demonstrated that a CBD regimen can have numerous neurological benefits, especially in regards to the reduction of inflammation and pain. There is little doubt that future studies will help to further elucidate the details of these benefits and likely bring to light other neurological benefits not presently known. Ultimately, with opioid addiction and abuse at crisis levels in the United States, CBD regimens will no doubt become a more viable alternative for many people.
Fine, Perry G. and Mark J. Rosenfeld. 2013. “The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain.” Rambam Maimondes Medical Journal 4 (October). Accessed October 28, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820295/.
Kendall, Debra A. and Guillermo A. Yudowski. 2016. “Cannabinoid Receptors in the Central Nervous System: Their Signaling and Roles in Disease.” Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 10 (January). Accessed October 29, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5209363/.
Mackie, K. 2008. “Cannabinoid Receptors: Where They Are and What They Do.” Journal of Neuroendocrinology. April 17. Accessed October 27, 2018. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2826.2008.01671.x.
Maroon, Joseph and Jeff Boost. 2018. “Review of the Neurological Benefits of Phytocannabinoids.” Surgical Neurology International 9 (April). Accessed October 16, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5938896/.
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