How often do you take brain health for granted. We often think about overall health with regard to our heart, or our gut, or even our skin. But many of us forget about the importance of brain health until something goes awry.
But if you think about your brain for what is it – your internal super computer – you might start to recognize how important it is to protect it along with those other systems in the body. After all, the brain is a complex organ that controls thought, memory, emotion, touch, motor skills, vision, breathing, temperature, hunger, and every process that regulates our body.
Your brain has a lot of responsibilities, and whether you’re looking to boost brain function, to help improve your mental health, or to help curb one of the various neurodegenerative diseases that affect so many, CBD might be the answer.
It’s time to talk CBD for brain health.
CBD for Brain Health
As we age, our brains can encounter a lot of stress. This stress can come from all different scenarios. Even just aging in general has an impact on overall brain health and how our brains function.
How can CBD help keep your brain healthy?
- Promotes cell health. As we age, our brains experience a decrease in neuroplasticity (the ability to reorganize) and neurogenesis (creating new brain cells). CBD can help increase neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
- Reduces inflammation. Inflammation in the brain plays a role in many neurological conditions. By reducing that inflammation, CBD may help to alleviate the symptoms of many neurological conditions.
- Protects against oxidative stress. CBD has powerful antioxidant abilities, which help fight free radicals and oxidative stress, which can lead to chronic disease and accelerated aging.
- Encourages neurotransmitter production. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers your brain cells use to communicate. Cbd can help boost their levels when they’re out of balance due to stress, poor diet, neurotoxins, or certain pharmaceuticals.
We know CBD is versatile. It’s one of the many things we love about it. And that versatility relates to not only protecting brain health, but also helping it deal with various disorders.
CBD and Common Common Conditions of the Brain
You’ve likely heard about CBD for epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes a loss of awareness. CBD has been approved by the FDA for inclusion in a pharmaceutical, Epidiolex, for the treatment of treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC).
But epilepsy ins’t the only neurological condition that research shows can benefit from CBD. In fact, several different studies show CBD’s potential therapeutic neurological effects and how it might improve brain health and function. The neuroprotective potential of CBD, based on its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, is currently being studied at length with regard to numerous neurodegenerative disorders.
1. Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating neurodegenerative disease that affects over 33 million people worldwide. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for over 60% of cases.
Alzheimer’s is characterized by the accumulation of tau hyperphosphorylation as well as neuroinflammation and oxidative stress, all of which have been shown to be a target of CBD.
For example, as far as the link between Alzheimers and CBD and brain health, research shows that CBD can:
- be neuroprotective
- prevent hippocampal and cortical neurodegeneration
- have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
- improve cognition
- reduce tau hyperphosphorylation
- regulate microglial cell migration
- improve cell viability
Based on the plethora of research that currently exists, experts agree that CBD has great valuable as a potential avenue for treatment and management of this neurological condition.
2. Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population. And CBD is often touted as a safe and effective alternative to conventional anxiety medications.
Because of how CBD interacts with receptors in the brain, studies suggest that CBD has modulatory effects over neural networks relevant for anxiety. For example, “The mechanisms appear to be related to the CBD’s benefit to provide enhanced neuroprotection and inhibition of excessive neuroinflammatory responses in neurodegenerative diseases and conditions. Common features involving neuroprotective mechanisms influenced by CBD—oxidative stress, immune mediators, and neurotrophic factors—are also important in conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), postconcussion syndrome, depression, and anxiety.”
As mentioned, researchers have also reviewed CBD for PTSD, a type of anxiety disorder. According to research, CBD changes how the brain processes emotional memories, which could help to explain its reputed therapeutic effects in PTSD and other psychiatric disorders. This is believed to be because of how CBD improves blood flow to the hippocampus, part of the brain associated with memory and emotion. Furthermore, CBD may also decrease the intensity and impact of symptoms commonly associated with PTSD, including chronic anxiety in stressful environments.
3. Brain Injuries
Research has also been done looking at the effect on CBD on brain health following injury.
To start, brain injuries have been linked to a variety of neurological disorders and behavioral changes following the injury. And research shows CBD may help. In a study on mice, researchers found that “chronic CBD treatment reduces behavioral dysfunctions by restoring at least in part cortical biochemical processes. Taken together, our results suggest that CBD could represent a novel approach for the management of neuropsychiatric disorders associated with TBI.”
Research “supports the role of cannabinoids and their interactions with CB1 and CB2 as part of the brain’s compensatory and repair mechanisms following injury. Animal studies indicate that posthead injury administration of exogenous CBD reduces short-term brain damage by improving brain metabolic activity, reducing cerebral hemodynamic impairment, and decreasing brain edema and seizures. These benefits are believed to be due to CBD’s ability to increase anandamide.”
Additionally, a clinical trial is also in progress looking at CBD and concussions. Researchers at the University of Miami are looking at the effects of CBD for the treatment of traumatic brain injury and concussions. They believe it could reduce post-injury inflammation in the brain, headache, pain, and other symptoms associated with concussions.