“How could CBD work on the mind?”
That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? If you’ve done even a little research on cannabidiol (CBD) and its posse of terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids, you’ve likely gotten a little confused.
When people say CBD is non-intoxicating, they’re leaving out one key component. A psychoactive substance is any molecule that alters our brains and the way we perceive our world. The chemical reactions brought on by CBD act on the central nervous system and alter brain function.
As a result, it can cause temporary changes in consciousness, behavior, mood, or perception. Caffeine falls into this category, and so does cannabidiol.
Let’s explore how CBD works on the mind…
Understanding the Brain
To talk about the mind, you need to first talk about the brain itself.
The brain is a member of the central nervous system (CNS), along with the spinal cord. Together, they team up to do some pretty important things. The brain is the center of our thoughts, the interpreter of our external environment, and the origin of control over body movement.
The peripheral nervous system is made up of nerves that branch off from the spinal cord and extend to all parts of the body. Want to know what these two things have in common?
The endocannabinoid system.
Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of numerous endocannabinoids; these are neurotransmitters that bind to receptors throughout our CNS and peripheral nervous system. Our ECS helps regulate a variety of cognitive and physiological processes in the body, such as memory, pain, stress response, and appetite.
What Are Neurotransmitters?
Think of neurotransmitters as messengers. They’re sent by a nerve cell or neuron full of messages. They leave with specific instructions on where to take these messages, and so travel along synapses, or bridges, to deliver them.
Now, these aren’t general-interest junk mail messages. They can only be read by a certain audience, or in other words, certain receptors. That’s what makes neurotransmitters so powerful: the specificity of the message they carry allows our receptors to feel all sorts of ways.
A drug’s power is measured by its effect on this process of communication between neurons and receptors. Some block a receptor’s ability to receive messages. These are called antagonists. Opiates fall into this category.
Others mimic neurotransmitters. These are called agonists. An example is morphine, which mimics the effects of the neurotransmitter B-endorphin to relieve pain. This is the same category THC lives in because it mimics certain endocannabinoids in their messaging to CB1 and CB2 receptors.
So, How Does CBD Work on the Mind?
Now, even though CBD is structurally very similar to THC, classified as a cannabinoid, and even named cannabidiol when tested in the lab, CBD does not activate cannabinoid receptors.
What CBD does do is encourage your body’s natural production of endocannabinoids, and can dampen the activity of some cannabinoid receptors. CBD has a much milder effect on the receptors than THC. It only binds itself to the CB1 receptors loosely and results in the blocking of the receptors, mitigating THC’s psychoactive effects.
Put another way, have you ever heard of Judo? It’s a martial art developed on the idea that winning in combat by using your opponent’s weight and strength as weapons against them while preserving your own mental and physical energy.
Challenges to our day to day life rarely present themselves as a singular bad-guy, like in a movie. They can come from all angles and can often make us feel alone.
It’s one of the reasons we’re big fans of a full-spectrum CBD oil. Even though the amount of THC it carries (less than .03%) is so low, its presence rounds out the other cannabinoids really well. This contributes immensely to what’s known as the entourage effect.
Maybe you’re already familiar with the concept, but in case you’re not, it’s the idea that the effects of each individual ingredient are bolstered by the presence of those around it. This creates a scenario in which the sum is actually greater than its parts, which increases CBD’s ability to promote mental wellness.
We’re all familiar with the feelings of stress and anxiety, but these aren’t the only adversaries we have in our journey toward mental wellness.
Here are three to remember…
1. High-Blood Pressure
Your body produces a surge of hormones when you’re in a stressful situation. These hormones temporarily increase your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow.
There’s no proof that stress by itself causes long-term high blood pressure. But reacting to stress in unhealthy ways can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.
Reducing your stress level might not directly lower your blood pressure over the long term. But using strategies to manage your stress can help improve your health in other ways.
2. Oxidative Damage
The way in which our bodies manage oxidative stress plays a huge role in maintaining good health. Oxidative stress is a natural process that happens at a cellular level. When a cell generates energy, it generates free radicals as a waste product. Environmental toxins, such as smog exposure, can also create free radicals.
Our body responds to the creation of free radicals by using antioxidants to stabilize the waste and ensure they don’t cause damage to the DNA in our cells. However, if the free radicals are too numerous and we don’t produce enough antioxidants, the waste products begin stealing DNA particles. This process can result in the development of conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
It’s why neuroprotective antioxidants, like Vitamins C and E compounds like it, are critical for long-term health and wellness.
3. Excitation in Brain Cells
When our brains are overly stimulated it causes a certain kind of brain damage called excitotoxicity. Glutamine-dependent excitotoxicity occurs in nearly every age-related neurodegenerative disease and brain disorder.
It’s one of the main molecular mechanisms in epilepsy. This understanding created the first FDA-approved cannabidiol-driven pharmaceutical.
While the mind can be tricky to pin down we all know what it feels like to have a bad day, a bad week, and now, a bad year.
The way CBD works on the mind depends on a lot of factors. It depends on metabolism, body chemistry, and personal preference. It depends on the bioavailability and delivery method. All of this can be challenging to navigate, especially if you’re new to CBD.
If you’ve got any questions we’re always here for a chat.
Thanks for hanging with us.