It has long been claimed that using cannabis leads to brain damage. Nonetheless, the opposite appears to be true: various studies have demonstrated that substances naturally found in cannabis, such as CBD and THC, actually help to improve brain health, and to keep our brains healthy without getting out of shape. Like other beneficial effects of cannabis, these properties are associated with the endocannabinoid system of our own body. Please allow us to explain how this works.
The endocannabinoid system is our brain’s caretaker
About 20% of all the energy we use throughout the day is consumed by our brain. That shouldn’t come as a big surprise, because every single process that occurs in our body is ultimately controlled by the brain. From movement to thinking, and from breathing to thinking – consciously, but subconsciously even more so; the brain governs it all. In addition to all the tasks carried out by our endocannabinoid system (ECS), it is also responsible for taking care of our brains, ensuring it stays in prime working order. An example of this brain care is the way that our ECS manages sufficient blood flow to and from the brain, keeping nutrient and oxygen levels in check. Another example is the way the ECS helps prevent inflammations throughout the brain. Important work indeed!
What – really?! Yes, it actually exists: neural plasticity. Neural plasticity means that our brain changes physically whenever we learn something new. Our brain is also able to adapt when we need to deal with new problems. If, for example, some part of our brain would stop functioning because of a stroke or similar accident, the brain itself will try to use other parts to offset any loss of function, in an attempt to let another piece of the brain take over the tasks of the damaged area. This ability to stay flexible and change in shape and structure is called neural plasticity: nerves (neurons) changing their shape and structure (plasticity). If this process occurs successfully, the consequences of the stroke may be limited to considerable extent.
Improved recovery after trauma and protection against disease
As early as in 1998, preclinical trials demonstrated that THC and CBD are capable of protecting brain cells (http://www.pnas.org/content/95/14/8268). This suggests that these substances naturally found in cannabis could help protect the brain against diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
By now, additional research has provided further evidence. A study conducted in 2011 (with contributions by the renowned scientist Raphael Mechoulam) proved that the amount of endocannabinoids (substances produced by our own body that strongly resemble the cannabinoids found in cannabis plants) increases after brain trauma has occurred. When the brain is under threat, our ECS shifts gears and speeds up to help the brain recover (https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01343.x). Within the brain, THC is able of achieving the same positive effects as endocannabinoids, and CBD reinforces that process in turn.
Based on the above, it is safe to carefully conclude that regular use of CBD is a sensible thing to do; especially for those of us who care about the wellbeing of our brains. CBD will not get you high as THC can, and CBD has many more additional benefits to offer. On top of all this, CBD will increase your chances of keeping your brain in proper working order – even if you bump your head every once in a while.