Medical Research

How CBD May Help Drugs Cross the Blood Brain Barrier

Written by Petar Petrov

A recent study published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics seems to have found another fascinating application of cannabidiol (CBD).

Drug delivery to the brain faces a massive barrier, literally–the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which in its efforts to protect the brain from harm, deprives it of beneficial things as well.  Think of the BBB as an overprotective father, only instead of preventing their child from perceived dangers of teenage life, the BBB protects the brain from any perceived toxins. This is why diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) have proven to be particularly difficult to treat–drugs can’t reach or treat them.

Lipid nanocapsules facilitate drug delivery and bioavailability by employing the principles of nanotechnology, which has been gaining popularity in the cannabis world as well for the same reason.[1] But no capsule is too small to slip past the BBB.

This potentially ground-breaking study found that, when “decorated” with CBD, lipid nanocapsules could actually sneak past the BBB. First, researchers tested the nanocapsules in both in vitro (in a test tube environment) and in vivo (in a pre-clinical model), with significant results. When “decorated” with CBD, 2.5 times more of the lipid nanocapsules reached the brain.[2]

On top of that, the researchers noted that this method is 6 times more effective than G-Technology, which is currently “the main brain active strategy that has already entered clinical trials for the treatment of CNS diseases.”

Researchers aren’t exactly sure how CBD tricks the BBB but they believe it may have to do with the endocannabinoid system because endocannabinoids play an important role in maintaining the BBB. As a phytocannabinoid, CBD may get a pass as well if the BB does not perceive it as an intruder.

These findings must be replicated in other studies and, of course in humans, but the results hold enormous potential for the future. For now, this study is a powerful reason for many to be hopeful when it comes to treatment for CNS conditions. And to continue funding and performing essential CBD research.

Image Source:


  1. Huynh NT, et al. Lipid nanocapsules: a new platform for nanomedicine. Int J Pharm. 2009;379(2):201-209.
  2. Aparicio-Blanco J, et al. Cannabidiol enhances the passage of lipid nanocapsules across the blood-brain barrier both in vitro and in vivo. Mol Pharmaceutics. 2019;16(5):1999-2010.

About the author

Petar Petrov

Petar is a freelance writer and copywriter, covering culture, art, society, and anything in-between that makes for a nice story. And as it so happens, cannabis is a great element to add to each of those conversations.