CBD for the Brain and Nervous System

What is CBD?
The supplement CBD (Cannabidiol) has become very popular in recent years.  Cannabis sativa (C. sativa), also known as Indian hemp, is a plant that is used as a source of marijuana, hemp, and CBD oils. Marijuana and hemp are extracted from two different strains of the Cannabis family. Hemp is harvested from Cannabis sativa and marijuana from Cannabis indica. Cannabis contains over 400 chemical compounds and approximately 80 known biologically active chemical molecules. The most well-researched compounds are the cannabinoids. About sixty cannabinoids have been identified, with the most psychoactive compound identified as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Additional cannabinoids include CBD, which is the most extensively researched, and several others.
CBD is Safe
CBD has an excellent safety profile and very low toxicity in humans at a wide range of doses. However, whether long-term CBD use during pregnancy is safe is unclear, and CBD should, therefore, be avoided during pregnancy. It has been demonstrated that CBD easily passes the blood-brain barrier. CBD does, however, not cause the sensation of feeling “stoned”. The most commonly reported side effects of CBD are tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite and weight. However, I have not found patients experience these side effects at normal doses. An additional safety assessment of a retail form of CBD involved a 2-year post-marketing and surveillance that included approximately five million product units sold. Only 1,429 (0.03%) adverse events were reported, and no evidence of liver toxicity. A report by the World Health Organization stated that CBD does not have concerns for abuse potential. And lastly, a literature review showed that CBD doses up to 300 mg/day have been safely used up to six months, while doses of 1200 to 1500 mg/day were used in a study for up to four weeks. Most people use products containing 25 mg per dose.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an endogenous signaling system. The ECS contains two primary cannabinoid receptors known as CB1 and CB2. These endocannabinoid receptors have distinctive distribution within the body and are located within the brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous system. The CB1 receptors are found predominantly in the brain and spinal cord, and their location at the end of nerve endings function to reduce pain sensation. CB1 receptors located in the brain affect memory and emotional processing, while those in the hypothalamus affect appetite regulation. CB2 receptors are more common in the peripheral nervous system and immune cells and reduce inflammation. The ECS plays a vital role in cell regulation where endocannabinoids are synthesized on demand to activate targets as part of an adaptive response.
Nerve Protective Properties
CBD has exhibits neuroprotective properties in neurodegenerative diseases, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, epileptic seizures Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s diseases. In addition, CBD has anti-inflammatory properties via modulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines and regulation of cell cycle and immune cell functions.
Full Spectrum CBD
There has been an emerging focus on full spectrum Cannabis sativa products. Researchers have found that there are more than 100 different cannabinoids and approximately 460 other known biologically active compounds. For centuries human ailments have been treated with cannabis. Thus, the full therapeutic effects of Cannabis sativa may well go beyond what is currently used in isolate products.
Research has shown that CBD may benefit the following brain and nervous system conditions:
  • Children with epilepsy who are taking anti-seizure medication. The use of CBD in cases like this should only be prescribed by a doctor.
  • Reduce cravings and anxiety in people withdrawing from opioids. Use under a doctor’s supervision.
  • Reduce pain
  • Short term insomnia
  • Anxiety
Selected References;
VanDolah HJ, Bauer BA, Mauck KF. Clinicians’ Guide to Cannabidiol and Hemp Oils. Mayo Clin Proc. 2019;94(9):1840–1851.
Meissner H, Cascella M. Cannabidiol (CBD). Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020.
Schmitz SM, Lopez HL, Marinotti O. Post Marketing Safety of Plus CBD Products, a Full Spectrum Hemp Extract: A 2-Year Experience. J Diet Suppl. 2020;17(5):587–598.
Silvestro S, Mammana S, Cavalli E, et al. Use of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Efficacy and Security in Clinical Trials. Molecules. 2019;24(8):1459.
Hurd YL, Yoon M, Manini AF, et al. Early Phase in the Development of Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Addiction: Opioid Relapse Takes Initial Center Stage. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):807–815.
Wright M, Di Ciano P, Brands B. Use of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Anxiety: A Short Synthesis of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Evidence. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2020;5(3):191–196.