The Endocannabinoid System and your Brain!
But how does it work?
And how does it have the ability to interact with so many systems in the body? To understand this, a look at the endocannabinoid system will be helpful. The endocannabinoid system is a series of receptors throughout the body and is expressed everywhere from immune cells to cells in the brain. There are two currently known types of receptors in this system: CB1 and CB2. Generally speaking, CB1 cells are more highly expressed in the brain and central nervous system and CB2 receptors are found more in the periphery of the body and has a high expression in human immune cells, although there is some overlap.
The molecules that interact with these receptors are called Anandamide (AEA) and 2- Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). One of the many actions CBD and hemp extracts have on the endocannabinoid system is that they increase the levels of these signaling molecules in the body.
CBD has interesting actions in the human brain. It was originally studied for its ability to prevent seizures, but it is now being studied in relation to anxiety, depression, stress, and schizophrenia. It also could be able to prevent neurodegeneration, and can possibly prevent and dampen the stress response.
This is a really excellent research review of the neurological
benefits that CBD can have in the brain:
One of the most interesting studies I’ve found on CBD suggests that it can actually inhibit and turn off the stress response in the human body. One of the body’s main systems of stress is called the HPA-axis which stand for the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal-Axis.
A researcher out of UW Milwaukee released a study suggesting that the endocannabinoid system signaling molecules could play an important role in this system. Her paper suggests that high levels of Anandamide may inhibit the fear response in the Amygdala and that high 2-AG levels may turn off the stress response.
Again, CBD has the ability to increase levels of both AEA and 2-AG in the body. CBD also seems to be able to increase neuroplasticity and growth of the hippocampus, which is involved in the stress response. 2 A growing number of studies in addition to lots of anecdotal stories from customers who have found CBD useful for stress and tension make us believe CBD is worth trying if you are struggling with mood or cognitive problems! (And let’s be honest, who couldn’t use some help there).
At Community Pharmacy, we carry multiple brands that we have researched for purity and potency and that we have found helpful. As far as dose, everyone is different. The best idea is to start with a low dose and slowly work up and notice how you feel. It seems like lower doses may actually work better for anxiety, whereas a dose that is too high may potentially exacerbate anxiety problems. Just another reason to start low and go slow!
If you’re taking psychiatric medications, talk to your practitioner and our pharmacists to make sure there won’t be any interactions between your medications and CBD.
By: Brendan S.
Brendan works at Community Pharmacy and is passionate about giving people access to useful health related information. He is particularly interested in mental health and the interface between herbs, the microbiome and neurobiology. Find Brendan on the sales floor at the downtown pharmacy and on the internet.
Cooperator at Community Pharmacy