2019 is proving to be CBD’s year. It is finally becoming more accepted by the day for its general benefits in health, wellness, and beauty. Study after study has borne out findings linking reputable CBD products to improvements and effective treatments of everything from skin complaints, like acne, to autoimmune inflammatory-based disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Anxiety disorders, PTSD, chronic pain, some forms of epilepsy, and even multiple sclerosis are all showing scientific evidence of responding to treatments with hemp-based CBD medical products.
As we begin to develop a more thorough understanding of the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), even more exciting possibilities are emerging as to how CBD medical products could have direct effects on our neurological health.
The endocannabinoid system and the neurological system
The first thing to think about when we consider the effects of medical CBD on the neurological system is that, contrary to popular belief, neurology isn’t only about the brain. Neurological health is related to three of the five areas of the body where the ECS works:
- The central nervous system
- The brain and spinal cord
- The peripheral nervous system (excluding the immune system)
How do they connect?
The ECS produces natural compounds called endocannabinoids, which work to bind with receptors CB1 and CB2—which live within our neurological system. Together with enzymes our body also produces, in an ideal world, the two together keep our bodies and minds ticking along as they should in what’s called homeostasis.
So why do we need CBD?
CBD is a compound that mostly looks and acts like an endocannabinoid (the substances naturally produced by our bodies), except that it’s derived from the cannabis plant. While sometime endocannabinoids that our bodies produce themselves are broken down too quickly by the enzymes whose job is to do just this, cannabinoids are more resistant to this process. Therefore, their ability to keep our bodies in homeostasis can be more effective and provide longer-lasting results. And, because CBD does not have mind-altering effects, our nervous systems get all of these benefits without the side effects that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can cause.
How CBD works where endocannabinoids do not
Remember those enzymes we talked about earlier? They’re the third element of the ECS that works to keep our bodies’ systems in homeostasis. Their job is to break down the endocannabinoids our bodies make. When they’re working with what the body naturally gave them, these enzymes do a very good, very fast job. But! They are not so quick and effective on cannabinoids.
CBD does not produce a mind-altering high. When formulated correctly and applied in the right manner, the effects of CBD are long-term, positive and work on problems our body can’t solve by itself.
For example, research suggests that CBD has promising effects on major neurological infirmities—like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and general memory issues not associated with aging.
CBD and brain-based neurological issues
Broad-based, long-term research into CBD and serious neurological issues is still in the early stages, but initial results are proving to be consistently positive. Let’s focus here on one of our society’s greatest neurological illnesses: dementia caused by Alzheimer’s.
In 2018, an estimated 5.7 million Americans were known to have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s—the disease accounts for approximately 60-70 percent of dementia cases. That number is only expected to grow: a 2018 study projects that 13.9 million individuals, aged 65 years or older, will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias in the U.S. by 2060.
How CBD may be able to help: the basics
A 2016 study from the Salk Institute found evidence that cannabinoids may actually be able to remove Alzheimer’s proteins from brain cells. Researchers believe that this happens in three ways:
- By reducing inflammation (CBD’s general anti-inflammatory ability is already widely understood and accepted).
- By reducing oxygen build up within the brain (CBD has strong antioxidant capabilities).
- By working as a brain stimulant and general neuro-protectant.
Psychological benefits of medical CBD in cases of brain-based neurological illnesses
Importantly, because CBD also works to reduce anxiety and alleviate depression, it may also have the further effect of reducing the stress that people feel as they undergo these neurological changes. These changes are often the hardest parts of illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s for sufferers, loved ones and carers alike to cope with.
Because Alzheimer’s often hits patients at a younger age than vascular dementia and can take years to identify itself, it can also have a much earlier effect on all concerned. The sufferer begins to suspect what is happening to their neurological functioning but is unable to do anything about it.
CBD and oxygen release in Alzheimer’s patients
The other trauma explicitly related to Alzheimer’s is the often rapid decline and destruction of patient’s brain cells, once the symptoms of the disease have advanced enough to be wholly diagnosable and life-affecting.
A key component of Alzheimer’s destructive neurological effect is its increased oxygen release, which is caused by the inflammation related to the disease; the more the brain is inflamed, the more oxygen is released. It directly affects the brain’s ability to function in critical ways, like retaining memory. Because CBD is an antioxidant, it may be able to slow, halt, or even reverse this process.
Brain cell decline or development: CBD’s neurological key to success
A now-famous 2011 study by Australian researchers Tim Karl and Carl Group found that CBD promotes the growth and development of brain cells. This can slow the decline of memory and other brain functions.
A 2016 study by the US National Institute of Health (NIH) found that activating CB2 (cannabinoid) receptors in the brain helped recover better blood flow to the brain. Activating the CB2 receptors with CBD has increased brain cell activity and helped reduce brain cell damage commonly associated with vascular dementia.
Just the beginning
As researchers learn more and more about CBD oil benefits, exciting new treatments and even possibly cures to all sorts of ailments continue to be revealed. In the case of the body’s neurological system, the possibility of improving or preventing some of its most devastating illnesses through medical CBD is a tremendous hope to many.
CBD For Life provides the best in CBD health products formulated to maximize the benefit to your entire endocannabinoid system. Still, have questions? Reach out online, or leave a comment below!