The cannabis plant contains more than 100 different compounds that are known to have medicinal benefits. While researchers are only scratching the surface in terms of this plant's medical properties, one compound that has emerged to be highly potent is cannabinoids, or “CBD” for short.
CBD is a non-psychotic compound that is believed to have numerous positive effects on the human body due to its neuroprotective properties. It merits to note that research is ongoing in this field.
Is CBD Neuroprotective?
CBD is believed to have many neuroprotective properties as it’s thought to reduce damage to the brain and the nervous system from a variety of stressors. It is also believed to enhance brain cells' growth and reduce the impact or damage caused by stress and autoimmune disorders.
Let us now explore CBD's benefits in these areas and the findings so far.
Handling Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the free radicals and the antioxidants present in the human body. This stress can be detrimental to the body's immunity and damage cells.
In one study, CBD proved to be effective in reducing this imbalance. To understand CBD's impact in handling oxidative stress, stress-tested CBD efficacy in rat cortical neuron cultures unveil certain toxic levels.
When CBD was administered, it was found that CBD reduced the glutamate toxicity in rats. The study also proved that CBD could act against other free radicals such as 2-amino-3-(4-butyl-3-hydroxyisoxazol-5-yl) propionic acid receptors, N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors, or kainate receptors.
The study further showed that CBD was much more potent than the normally-used ascorbate or alpha-tocopherol, suggesting that CBD has excellent antioxidant powers to treat oxidative neurological disorders such as cerebral ischemia.
Preventing Degeneration of Brain Cells and Neurons
There are many degenerative diseases like Parkinson's Disease caused by the degeneration of brain cells and neurons.
This study showed that CBD reduced the effects of this degeneration. 6-hydroxydopamine is one of the substances known to enhance the pace of deterioration as it depletes dopamine and reduces the tyrosine hydroxylase activity in the forebrain. In this study, CBD was administered daily for two weeks, and it showed a significant reduction in the magnitude of this impact.
What is more significant is that the administration of CBD was stopped after two weeks. Still, the waning of the degenerative effects continued, which showed that CBD could be an excellent long-term solution as its results are relatively permanent and don't stop after the dosage ends.
This study is considered a significant one in finding a permanent cure for Parkinson's Disease.
Activates the Nuclear Receptors
Nuclear receptors are a class of proteins known to play a significant role in cell differentiation and development. In general, these receptors tend to play an essential role in the recovery of injuries and trauma.
Some studies show that CBD has a positive effect on these nuclear receptors. In particular, CBD is believed to prevent the nucleus's translocation, so the pro-inflammatory genes' impact reduces significantly. Likewise, it binds the nuclear receptors of the PPAR family, and as a result of this, the inhibition of signals through nerves is reduced.
What this essentially means is that CBD works in two ways with the nuclear receptors. Firstly, it prevents the nucleus from translocation, so the inflammatory genes' impact is reduced, and secondly, it produces an anti-inflammatory effect by activating these nuclear receptors, so the brain and the nervous system's signals are enhanced.
Reducing the Possibility of Neurological Diseases in Infants
Neonatal ischemia is a condition that affects 0.1 to 0.2% of newborns, out of which one-third of develop a severe neurological syndrome, impairing them for life. Research shows that about 20% of these cases eventually lead to premature death.
What happens with this condition is that there is a dysfunction of the ionic pumps in neurons, leading to an accumulation of ions and toxic substances such as glutamate. As this dysfunction aggravates, it activates different enzymes, all of which eventually lead to the programmed and immediate death of cells.
In a study, CBD was administered to the forebrain slices of newborn mice, and it was able to reduce the damage caused by the dysfunction of the ionic pumps in the neurons. Further, CBD also normalized the release of glutamates, thereby decreasing the build-up of ions and other toxic substances that, in turn, could lead to neonatal ischemia.
While these studies were conducted on mice, the results are promising. We hope that CBD will soon be tested at the clinical level to reduce neurological defects and even death among newborn babies.
Reducing the Possibility of Huntington's Disease
Huntington's Disease is a neurodegenerative disease that is passed down through the genes. It is caused due to a mutation surrounding the Huntington gene, hence the name. It leads to motor and cognitive disorders, for which there is no known pharmacotherapy.
Some studies that used CBD's neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties have shown promise, which has enthused many researchers. When injected in rats, it was found that the receptors did not block CBD’s effects. More importantly, CBD activated many signalling pathways responsible for motor and cognitive disorders. In other words, CBD opened up many neural pathways in rats, thereby decreasing the efficacy and possibility of impairments.
To conclude, CBD is believed to have a powerful impact on the neurological system thanks to its neuroprotective properties. While many of the studies and the findings from it are at the preliminary stage, we can hope that these positive results would push CBD to be tested in a clinical environment so its benefits can help society overcome many neurological diseases.