How does CBD affect our mood?

CBD neurotransmitters

The CBD oil has gained popularity as a natural solution to improve our mental and emotional well-being. In this article, we explain how CBD affects different neurotransmitters and its possible implications on mood and behavior.

Endocannabinoid system and neurotransmitters

What are neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers of our nervous system, and are found both in the brain (or central nervous system) and throughout our body (forming part of the peripheral nervous system).

Therefore, neurotransmitters are the messengers that communicate to the different parts of our brain, and also connect our brain with the other parts of our body. Not only do they influence our emotions and “mental” well-being, but neurotransmitters are also determinant in diseases and their symptoms in a psychosomatic way.

Main neurotransmitters and their functions

The most important neurotransmitters in our body are serotonin, dopamine, glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which when they influence the brain, can regulate mood, sleep, appetite and cognition.

Effects of CBD on serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA

CBD or cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive derivative of the cannabis plant, which has captured the attention of researchers and health enthusiasts around the world due to its potential to influence our nervous system.

The endocannabinoid system is widely distributed throughout the nervous system and directly affects neurotransmitters. Both the endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by our body), such as the cannabinoids cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, such as CBD, modulate the availability of neurotransmitters, therefore affect our mental and physical well-being.

How does CBD affect serotonin?

Serotonin, also called the feel-good neurotransmitter or “happiness hormone,” plays a key role in mood, emotional well-being and sleep regulation.

CBD binds to serotonin receptors (5-HT1a receptors), contributing to CBD’ s sense of well-being and antidepressant effect (3).

By binding to 5-HT1A receptors, it stimulates a serotonin-like response in the brain. Although CBD binds moderately to serotonin receptors (2), some studies suggest that CBD may have a similar impact as antidepressant medications (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs), a common class of antidepressants used in post-traumatic stress disorder (4).

How does CBD affect dopamine?

Dopamine is associated with pleasure, reward and motivation. The influence of CBD on dopamine is less direct compared to serotonin.

CBD does not increase dopamine levels, but it does influence how your brain responds to the dopamine you already have.

CBD regulates how this neurotransmitter is transmitted, absorbed and transported in the brain (5, 6).

Taken together, these effects of CBD on dopamine and serotonin may offer support for affective or emotional and cognitive problems, such as depression and schizophrenia (6).

How does CBD affect glutamate?

Glutamate acts like an ignition switch in your brain: it controls arousal and is involved in learning and reasoning processes. It is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, and CBD regulates its transmission.

CBD helps regulate the way glutamate activates your neurons.

CBD has the ability to bind to TRPV1 vanilloid receptors and thereby regulate excitatory glutamate transmission (7).

How does CBD affect GABA?

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which reduces neuronal excitability. The opposite (or complementary) effect of glutamate!

CBD can increase the efficiency and release of GABA in certain parts of the brain, which is related to the relaxing effects of CBD.

CBD can increase GABA transmission in some parts of the brain (8), which could be linked to the calming effects of CBD, reflecting in a benefit for conditions such as anxiety and insomnia.

Glutamate and GABA form a fundamental inhibition-stimulation circuit in the brain. Therefore, the influence of CBD on these neurotransmitters could work as an antipsychotic and help people with autism. (9, 10).

How does CBD affect neurotransmitters?

Mechanism of action

Although the endocannabinoid system affects neurotransmitters, CBD does not necessarily influence neurotransmitters through the classic receptors of the endocannabinoid system (CB1 and CB2).

CBD has several mechanisms by which it can influence neurotransmitter levels and the way they exert their effects. It does so through its effects on the cannabinoid receptors and other parts of the cells, such as voltage-dependent anion channels and other G protein-coupled receptors. These elements control the amount of calcium inside cells, which in turn triggers the release of neurotransmitters. Calcium is a key player in neurotransmission: when calcium enters neurons, neurotransmitters are released from vesicles within neurons.

An important fact to keep in mind is that this occurs not only in the brain, but also in neurons throughout the body, such as our peripheral nerves.

Thus, from influencing “discrete” cellular targets scattered throughout our bodies, CBD can influence neurotransmitters and affect our well-being, sleep regulation, stress management, and a multitude of physical and mental conditions for which CBD is being studied. benefits of CBD (1).

Potential mental health benefits of CBD

Due to CBD’s interaction with neurotransmitters, it is possible to consider its potential mental health benefits.

CBD’s modulation of serotonin, dopamine, glutamate and GABA levels could provide relief for a variety of conditions, from depression and anxiety to insomnia and even certain neurodegenerative diseases.

How to take CBD for neurotransmitter regulation

CBD may offer a natural alternative to help alleviate symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression and stress. However, it is very important to consult a medical specialist before using CBD when there is a neurotransmitter imbalance, as the diseases or symptoms resulting from such imbalances vary in degree and in the way they affect mental health.

CBD dosage

On the other hand, there is no single dose of CBD to modulate neurotransmitter activity. Generally, it has been suggested to start with a low dose, and gradually increase it until an effective dose is found for each person.

* More information: Optimal CBD dosage

Precautions before using CBD

In moderate and severe conditions where there is treatment with psychotropic medications, caution should be exercised as CBD may interact with other medications, including some antidepressants and antipsychotics.

* More information: Interactions between CBD and medications

In conclusion…

The effects of CBD on neurotransmitters provide a better understanding of the effects of cannabis and CBD on feelings of calm, well-being and relaxation. In addition, they hold promise for a variety of mental health applications, from mood regulation to anxiety reduction, pain relief to sleep improvement. While research continues, the findings so far are encouraging and suggest that CBD oil and other CBD products may play a valuable role in our sense of well-being.

Note: This is an informational post, based on ongoing research, and cannot and is not intended to diagnose, prevent or cure any disease or symptom. Its content can complement, but never replace, the diagnosis or treatment of any disease or symptom. Cannactiva products are not medicines and are intended for external use. Consult with your physician before using CBD.

  1. Ibeas Bih, C., Chen, T., Nunn, A. V., Bazelot, M., Dallas, M., & Whalley, B. J. (2015). Molecular Targets of Cannabidiol in Neurological Disorders. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, 12(4), 699-730.
  2. Russo, E. B., Burnett, A., Hall, B., & Parker, K. K. (2005). Agonistic properties of cannabidiol at 5-HT1a receptors. Neurochemical research, 30(8), 1037-1043.
  3. Resstel, L. B., Tavares, R. F., Lisboa, S. F., Joca, S. R., Corrêa, F. M., & Guimarães, F. S. (2009). 5-HT1A receptors are involved in the cannabidiol-induced attenuation of behavioural and cardiovascular responses to acute restraint stress in rats. British journal of pharmacology, 156(1), 181-188.
  4. Montoya, Z. T., Uhernik, A. L., & Smith, J. P. (2020). Comparison of cannabidiol to citalopram in targeting fear memory in female mice. Journal of cannabis research, 2(1), 48.
  5. Pandolfo, P., Silveirinha, V., dos Santos-Rodrigues, A., Venance, L., Ledent, C., Takahashi, R. N., Cunha, R. A., & Köfalvi, A. (2011). Cannabinoids inhibit the synaptic uptake of adenosine and dopamine in the rat and mouse striatum. European journal of pharmacology, 655(1-3), 38-45.
  6. Renard, J., Norris, C., Rushlow, W., & Laviolette, S. R. (2017). Neuronal and molecular effects of cannabidiol on the mesolimbic dopamine system: Implications for novel schizophrenia treatments. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, 75, 157-165.
  7. Musella, A., De Chiara, V., Rossi, S., Prosperetti, C., Bernardi, G., Maccarrone, M., & Centonze, D. (2009). TRPV1 channels facilitate glutamate transmission in the striatum. Molecular and cellular neurosciences, 40(1), 89-97.
  8. Kaplan, J. S., Stella, N., Catterall, W. A., & Westenbroek, R. E. (2017). Cannabidiol attenuates seizures and social deficits in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(42), 11229-11234.
  9. O’Neill, A., Annibale, L., Blest-Hopley, G., Wilson, R., Giampietro, V., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2021). Cannabidiol modulation of hippocampal glutamate in early psychosis. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 35(7), 814-822.
  10. Pretzsch, C. M., Freyberg, J., Voinescu, B., Lythgoe, D., Horder, J., Mendez, M. A., Wichers, R., Ajram, L., Ivin, G., Heasman, M., Edden, R. A. E., Williams, S., Murphy, D. G. M., Daly, E., & McAlonan, G. M. (2019). Effects of cannabidiol on brain excitation and inhibition systems; a randomised placebo-controlled single dose trial during magnetic resonance spectroscopy in adults with and without autism spectrum disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 44(8), 1398-1405.

Masha Burelo
Investigadora en cannabinoides | Doctoranda en Neurociencia

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