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CBD as a neuroprotector: What is this property of cannabidiol?

CBD Neuroprotective

CBD as a neuroprotectant has been studied by different research groups. In this post we will explain these properties of CBD in the brain and the possible applications for which it is being studied. We remind you that this is an informative article that is not intended to prevent, diagnose or treat any disease.

Neuroprotective effect of CBD

The cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the phytocannabinoids present in the cannabis plant, known for its multiple health benefits and its non-psychoactive properties. Among its vast range of therapeutic uses, recent studies have shown that CBD can also act as a neuroprotectant.

What does it mean that CBD is neuroprotective?

CBD is a phytocannabinoid that has the ability to protect brain cells from damage, degeneration or malfunction. This protection is achieved through different effects exerted by cannabidiol on neurons:

Anti-inflammatory

CBD protects the nervous system due to its potent anti-inflammatory action, since one of the most common characteristics of neurological conditions is chronic inflammation. CBD reduces inflammation in the body by decreasing the local immune response, having an antioxidant action and decreasing the release of proinflammatory cytokines that perpetuate the inflammatory process (1, 2, 3, 4). Likewise, CBD has been shown to protect brain cells from apoptosis, or cell death due to inflammation, by decreasing cellular stress (5, 6). Read more in our post about CBD as an anti-inflammatory .

Neurogenesis

Neurogenesis is the process by which new functional neurons are generated in the brain. This process is interrupted by various neurological diseases. In laboratory animal studies, CBD has been shown to stimulate the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus (7, 8), a brain site that is linked to memory and learning. Neurogenesis is part of brain plasticity, a characteristic that refers to the fact that neural networks can change, adapt or reorganize, either as a result of development, environmental change, aging or disease.

Neuronal plasticity is affected in diseases such as dementia, schizophrenia and epilepsy (9, 10). And since the endocannabinoid system partially contributes to the control of neurogenesis, palliative CBD treatment as a neuroprotectant could be of great help.

Antioxidant

CBD has the ability to interrupt the action of free radicals by capturing them or transforming them into less harmful radicals (11) and can even reduce their production (12, 13, 14). CBD as a neuroprotectant may decrease the impact of oxidative stress resulting from neurodegenerative diseases, head trauma, chronic stress, and other neurological conditions.

What is oxidative stress? In our tissues, there are free radicals (or oxidizing agents) that are formed from normal cellular processes. These radicals are generally in equilibrium thanks to the action of antioxidant compounds. In many brain diseases or pathologies, this balance is broken producing oxidative stress. Thus, when free radicals exceed the amount of antioxidants in the brain, they begin to cause damage to DNA and proteins in neuronal tissues. The antioxidant effect of CBD helps to neutralize oxidizing agents, decreasing damage to the brain due to oxidative stress.

On the other hand, CBD can help mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are the energy-producing organelles of cells. Research has suggested that CBD may help repair mitochondrial damage by promoting cellular health (15).

* You may be interested in: How does CBD affect mood? Effects of CBD on neurotransmitters

Potential therapeutic uses of CBD related to its neuroprotective properties

Traumatic brain injuries

It has been shown that CBD as a neuroprotectant could be used for the treatment of traumatic brain injury. Through its anti-inflammatory action and antioxidant effect, it prevents neuronal death and avoids the development of seizures (16). On the other hand, it has also been suggested that it may prevent the development of chronic pain following brain trauma (17).

Neurodegenerative diseases

Different studies suggest that due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action of CBD, it may have beneficial effects on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

CBD as a neuroprotectant can be of great help for any neurological disorder where an inflammatory process is involved or pain perception is involved. Because CBD interacts with serotonin 5-HT1A receptors and the vanilloid receptor TRPV1, CBD has the ability to modulate pain perception and mood (18), which represents an opportunity to provide relief also for psychiatric disorders.

How is CBD used for its neuroprotective effects?

The dose of CBD as a neuroprotectant does not exist as such, there are doses reported for different conditions, where neuroprotection is an effect implied in the therapeutic spectrum of CBD. On the other hand, talking about a standard dose is complicated, since the effective dose varies from person to person and from the condition for which CBD is required as a treatment. For example, doses of CBD for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease that have been used range from 25 mg/day to 400 mg/day in different studies. These doses are administered as symptomatic treatment and imply a neuroprotective action of CBD.

On dosing for traumatic brain injury, the clinical study that is evaluating effectiveness in humans is still being developed by the University of Denver, Colorado (19). However, in animal models it has been reported that CBD as a neuroprotectant can restore normal levels of neurotransmission avoiding neuronal damage at doses of 100 mg/day (20). This dose has also been reported to be effective in multiple sclerosis, helping to reduce the severity of this disease in clinical patients (21).

Remember that any CBD treatment should be started at lower than therapeutic doses and then increased based on response. It should also be kept in mind if there are possible interactions between CBD and interactions between CBD and medications .

Could taking CBD prevent neurodegenerative diseases?

Unfortunately, no. The development of neurodegenerative diseases depends on many factors such as genetic predisposition, lifestyle and other risk factors. Research has succeeded in elucidating some of the mechanisms of these diseases, but there is still no answer on prevention.

Important considerations about CBD as a neuroprotectant

This article is informative and summarizes the current evidence on the impact of CBD on the brain, as well as the main ongoing research on its potential applications. These properties of cannabidiol are still under investigation. Consult your doctor if you have any doubts about your health and avoid using CBD without professional advice.

We remind you that this is an informative article that is not intended to prevent, diagnose or treat any disease. Its content can complement, but never replace, the diagnosis or treatment of any disease or symptom. Cannactiva products are not medicines. Consult your physician for more information and before using CBD.

Referencias
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Masha Burelo
Investigadora en cannabinoides | Doctoranda en Neurociencia

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