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When most people think of cannabis, they think of THC, but what how does CBD affect the brain?
Cannabis’ second most abundant chemical Cannabidiol—better known as CBD–has a very different effect. Although it doesn’t cause intoxication, CBD can present a wide variety of effects on the brain.
The effects of CBD on the brain are numerous from helping you get more done to improving your concentration.
But beyond personal experiences and stories, there are more verifiable health effects as well. Although CBD doesn’t get you high, it still affects the central nervous system and ultimately the brain.
The answer lies in how THC and CBD affect your Endocannabinoid System and its cannabinoid receptors which are responsible for regulating homeostasis.
Okay. There were a lot of big words there.
Homeostasis is the process of regulating how your body reacts to certain events. It controls your immune response, communication between cells, appetite and metabolism, memory, and more.
Basically, when your body experiences an illness, or threat, or something enjoyable, the receptors in the Endocannabinoid System helps tell your body what to do and how to react.
For example, if the receptors pick up high levels of stress, then the Endocannabinoid System will try to manage it.
THC and CBD interact with the brain’s receptors. In other words, they manipulate what the receptors detect and thereby affect how the Endocannabinoid System responds.
There are two primary receptors that THC and CBD affect—CB1 and CB2, which stand for cannabinoid receptor type 1 and type 2. CB1 and CB2 receptors are primarily active in your brain, central nervous system, lungs, liver, and kidneys.
Cannabinoids like CBD and THC bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors. They either act as agonists—which activate the receptors, or they act as antagonists that block cannabinoid receptors and limit their activity.
Although THC and CBD both have similar chemical makeups, they have different structures which are why scientists suspect they act differently in the brain.
THC is a CB1 and CB2 agonist. That means that THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in your body and activates them. For example, THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain’s reward system and produces feelings of euphoria.
CBD generally acts as a CB1 and CB2 antagonist. That means CBD blocks cannabinoid receptors rather than activating them.
As mentioned above, CBD blocks cannabinoid receptors which means that it prevents receptors from picking up on certain signals. However, it doesn’t heighten the sensations like THC.
It actually looks like CBD interferes with the activity of the CB1 receptors, especially when it interacts with THC.
So when THC and CBD work together to affect CB1 and CB2, users tend to feel a calmer high because THC activates the CB1 receptor, while CBD inhibits it. Because CBD blocks CB1 and CB2 receptors and has a more mellowing effect, it’s often claimed to be non-psychoactive.
However, this isn’t completely true.
CBD still affects the brain, and any substance that has a direct effect on the function of the brain is considered to be psychoactive.
Below are several ways CBD affects your brain when you ingest it.
The mind is a powerful thing. We’ve always been able to control our mindset, and early studies suggest CBD can positively impact our gray matter as well. Although there’s a lot left to discover, it seems that CBD’s ability to bind with CB1 and CB2 will give people a greater amount of control over their brains.
Want to see how CBD can affect the brain for the better?
Check out our selection of CBD products to feel them for yourself!
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