CBD has demonstrated incredibly diverse beneficial properties, but studies have mostly focused on its immediate influence on us. Long-term effects are a whole different ballgame, so let’s see what we can glean about the brain chemistry changes after prolonged CBD use.
CBD isn’t Harmful
First and foremost, it’s important to mention that CBD has shown no signs of being harmful to the brain, even when it’s used regularly and over long periods of time. In that sense, CBD’s effects can basically be viewed as long-term, as long as it keeps being administered.
CBD has been found to protect neurons from degeneration, (1) which is at the core of different neurological diseases that involve losing mental astuteness, such as Alzheimer’s. In fact, a body of research has focused specifically on CBD’s role in combating Alzheimer’s, and the results are promising.
The lack of harmful side-effects, related to prolonged CBD use, needs to be emphasized with regard to pain relief in particular.
Considering that many prescription pain-killers not only have a myriad of side-effects, but can also be quite addictive as people can develop a tolerance relatively easily. CBD is a highly viable long-term alternative, if not for anything else, for its safety.
The combination of CBD’s effectiveness and benevolence could thus serve as a starting point of finding ways to treat chronic pain by similar means of altering brain chemistry.
Anandamide Reuptake and Breakdown
One of CBD’s most famous properties, at least in the scientific circles, is its ability to inhibit anandamide reuptake and breakdown, thus increasing the endocannabinoid levels in the brain’s synapses. (2) What this means is CBD could potentially have long-term effects on different medical conditions, caused by endocannabinoid deficiency.
The findings of a recent 2018 study, published in the Cannabis Cannabinoid Research, suggests that CBD may not only have a restorative effect on the subicular and CA1 subfields in current cannabis users, but in those who have been using cannabis for longer in particular. (3)
On the one hand, this study might be a breakthrough in the cannabis users’ community, as it establishes CBD’s ability to counteract the structural harms on the brain induced by regular cannabis use. On the other, however, these findings allude to something that transcends cannabis users and non-users alike – CBD’s therapeutic potential for treating clinical disorders that stem from hippocampal pathology, such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and different depressive conditions. Considering the research mentioned above, things are starting to add up.
While most of the studies so far focus on singular administration of CBD, the science around the compound’s long-term effects and benefits is starting to shake up. Most importantly, the research so far is consistent in one regard in particular – CBD has tremendous potential for helping people while close to zero potential for harming them, which is all the grounds needed for further exploration.
- Maroon and Bost, Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids, Surg Neurol Int. 2018 April 26; 9: 91. Journal Impact Factor = 2.878; Times Cited = 10
- Deutsch DG, A Personal Retrospective: Elevating Anandamide (AEA) by Targeting Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) and the Fatty Acid Binding Proteins (FABPs), Front Pharmacol. 2016 Oct 13; 7: 370. Journal Impact Factor = 3.831; Times Cited = 19
- Beale et al, Prolonged Cannabidiol Treatment Effects on Hippocampal Subfield Volumes in Current Cannabis Users, Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2018; 3(1): 94–107. Journal Impact Factor = -; Times Cited = 6
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