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The Effects of CBD on Brain Function


The Effects of CBD on Brain Function

There are two primary cannabinoid compounds found in marijuana, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the more commonly known compound, but over time, CBD research and use has become more widely accepted. THC and comes from cannabis plants containing less than 0.3% THC. CBD does not bring on any psychoactive effects, or the feeling of being “high.” It has become widely accepted as therapeutically beneficial such that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of CBD for prescription purposes beginning in June of 2018. Studies have begun to show how CBD may improve brain function, even slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s for patients in the early stages of development [1].

For general information about whether medical marijuana (MMJ) is right for you, schedule an exam with one of our Florida Medical Marijuana Doctors. You may complete our eligibility survey in just 5 minutes to find out if you pre-qualify for a recommendation.

The Endocannabinoid System and CBD

Understanding how CBD affects brain function starts with an understanding of how the body utilizes it. The neuro-modulatory system in the human body is known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Preliminary research suggests it is responsible for the regulation of physiological as well as cognitive processes, such as pregnancy/fertility, pre- and postnatal development, mood, memory, and even the “pharmacological effects of cannabis” [2]. The primary function of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain “homeostasis,” or a stable environment internally despite external changes in the environment. Cannabis, including CBD, contains chemicals that naturally mimic these endocannabinoid messengers and bind to the same receptors. Clinical trials show these compounds may be useful for the treatment of some diseases, pain, and even mental health conditions [3].

CBD and Brain Function

The most important role of CBD when it comes to brain function is to reduce inflammation. Inflammatory response is necessary for the body to survive, but when overactive, causes “neuroinflammation” which is responsible for many neurological conditions. Studies have linked inflammation to issues such as anxiety, depression, memory trouble, stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, fatigue, and brain fog. In addition, the same studies suggest CBD can slow inflammatory responses in the body. Reducing this response in the brain means alleviating many symptoms associated with neurological conditions. 

Maintaining healthy brain function as one gets older is paramount, especially since most people experience a slow decline in memory and learning capabilities as they age. For many, that decline is more dramatic. “Currently, 50 million people are living with dementia globally, and that number is projected to nearly triple by 2050” [3].  “Age-related cognitive decline” has many causes ranging from lifestyle habits to genetics, but also from decreases in neuroplasticity and neurogenesis. “Neuroplasticity is the ability of your brain to change and reorganize and is the process through which all memory and learning take place. Neurogenesis is the birth of new brain cells” [3]. One study on mice determined CBD reduces stroke-induced neuroinflammation and increases neuroplasticity and neurogenesis [3].

CBD and Alzheimer’s Disease

Perhaps the most commonly known neurological disorder, Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia intensified by inflammation, brain cell decline, and oxygen buildup. More specifically, when inflammation occurs in the brain, excess oxygen is released in brain cells, leading to brain deterioration and memory loss. This is known as neurotoxicity, and it affects more than five million people in the United States alone [4]. CBD has been proven beneficial because it helps clear disorienting blockages. As an antioxidant, CBD decreases the excess oxygen caused by brain inflammation [4]. The aforementioned endocannabinoid system is comprised of two receptors: CB1 and CB2. “CB1 is present in each part of the brain, including the hippocampus, which is responsible for our memory function and learning ability. CB2 receptors live in certain immune cells in our brain called microglia. The endocannabinoid system that responds to the signals sent by CBD products is largely responsible for memory and the hippocampus is the first major part of the body to be destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease” [5]. As in many neurological disorders, ongoing research finds CBD to protect nerve cells against deterioration and provide antioxidant properties to the whole body, including the brain.

Is Medical Marijuana Right for Me?

Whether medical marijuana will help your condition depends on many factors best evaluated by a medical doctor. If you feel you may benefit from medical marijuana, the first step is to take our eligibility survey. In just 5 minutes, you could pre-qualify for a recommendation. A Florida Medical Marijuana Doctor can then determine if you qualify during an in-person exam. For more information, visit