Posts tagged with "antidepressant"

CBD: A Neuroprotective Wonder

Over the past century, neurodegenerative illnesses have significantly increased, and some researchers believe that they will become even more prevalent going forward. A study on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia released in December 2017 suggested that 15 million Americans will suffer from either condition, or “mild cognitive impairment” by 2060, an increase of more than 150 percent on current numbers.

Neuroscience has lagged behind other fields of medicine, with the complexity of the brain proving a difficult code to crack for researchers. The demand for neuroprotective treatments to conserve the health of the brain and stave off mental illnesses caused, at least in part, by brain inflammation is great, but treatments have been hard to come by. However, cannabinoids, an uncommon but seemingly critical set of compounds found in strains of cannabis, have exhibited some intriguing neuroprotective effects in the few studies we have available.

The endocannabinoid system is responsive to these cannabinoids and appears to be neuroprotectant in enhancing deep sleep by regulating the sleep-wake cycle, and by reducing brain inflammation, which endocannabinoids can do by tweaking immune system response.

In this post, we’ll explore in-depth a few of the ways that CBD is an effective neuroprotective drug, with focus on slowing the progression of neurodegenerative illnesses, limiting the damage following brain injuries and facilitating neurogenesis in important parts of the brain, which may hold the key to alleviating depression.

CBD for neurodegenerative diseases

Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia are all types of neurodegenerative illness. Nerve fiber damage occurs naturally due to aging but is also accelerated by these neurodegenerative diseases, as myelin sheath deteriorates – but it appears that CBD can halt or at least stifle this unhelpful process.

Deterioration of the myelin sheath causes a loss of cognitive function and memory, and in the case of Parkinson’s leads to a loss of motor control, hence the uncontrollable and prevalent tremors. While tremors are common among the elderly due to unavoidable neurodegeneration, these are not as severe.

Just recently, a Brazilian doctor was granted a special license by the country’s government to prescribe CBD oil to a patient diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Brazil has been a hub for medical cannabis research in South America, and in particular for studies on the brain.

Sleep is neuroprotective

Mental and physical health problems arise when the body doesn’t get enough sleep, and adults attempting to regularly get by on fewer than the recommended minimum of seven hours are likely to experience fatigue. Conditions such as insomnia and sleep apnea contribute to a lack of sleep and waking up during sleep, but there are other factors that stop the mind from winding down, including anxiety, depression, stress and physical pain.

Thankfully, slow-release CBD products like CBD gummy bears boost sleep and influences the sleep-wake cycle to promote more regenerative deep sleep, and also treats the aforementioned quartet of sleep-preventing symptoms. CBD is also effective for epilepsy patients who suffer from seizures and spasms which keep them awake at night.

Deep sleep is much more important than rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, a considerably lighter phase of sleep where we have dreams and nightmares. It is only in deep sleep where cerebrospinal fluid, which usually cushions the brain from the outside, enters the brain and flushes away neurotoxins responsible for neurodegeneration. Deep sleep also helps with the production of new cells all over the body. The all-round rejuvenation in this phase is crucial for combatting fatigue.

Reducing and limiting brain damage

Over the past few decades, cannabis has typically been accused of being bad for the brain, with its psychoactive effects triggering mental health conditions such as psychosis. But the studies on CBD have found the opposite, and in fact, administering CBD after a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI) may reduce the overall brain damage.

CBD is an antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory, which is important as oxidation in the brain has been linked to DNA damage of cells in the organ.

The brain damage that occurs from strokes is referred to as ischemic injury, and the death of brain cells can cause localized paralysis and a loss of speech. The quicker someone suffering from a stroke is treated, the less severe the damage is. Studies have found that the endocannabinoid system is active during a stroke, and that limiting the number of inflammatory cytokines released could be essential to protecting motor control and cognitive function.

Neuroprotection, neurogenesis and treating depression

Research into depression has advanced in the 21st century, although pharmaceutical treatments for the mood disorder, which affects 300 million globally, are still below par. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the most widely-used and recent class of antidepressants, can take weeks before benefits begin to show, cause side effects such as insomnia, nausea and impotence, and for some patients do not even work.

However, CBD has been found to elevate mood by promoting anandamide in the endocannabinoid system and agonising the 5-HT1A receptor in the serotonin system. And in 2016, evidence was produced showing CBD and another non-psychoactive cannabinoid called cannabichromene (CBC) to have neurogenesis effects in adult rats, helping to stimulate growth in the hippocampus. This is important, as long-term depression causes shrinkage in this part of the brain.

In 2018, a team of Brazilian and Danish researchers found CBD to be an effective medication for depression in rats from the first dose, with therapeutic effects lasting for a week after treatment was stopped. The study revealed that the number of synaptic proteins in the prefrontal cortex eventually increased, a sign that the antidepressant effects had worn off. Past research has connected a rise in these proteins to depression. Therefore, according to one professor on the study, CBD repairs neuronal circuitry in the prefrontal cortex which becomes damaged due to depression.

CBD vape oil and e-liquid and CBD edibles are both useful products for managing neurodegeneration. However, conditions with acute symptoms must be remedied more quickly, and in those situations, vaping e-juice or taking CBD oil provides the most benefit.

CBD: An Alternative to Prescription Drugs?

In the modern world, our first approach to treating an illness is to find the most suitable pharmaceutical drug, which we typically get either over-the-counter or on prescription. However, while these medicines are normally effective, they can unlock a whole new box of issues, including dependency and side effects.

Becoming reliant on medication can be mentally unsettling, and nasty side effects like nausea and dizziness typically require further treatment, leaving patients on a cocktail of pharmaceutical-grade drugs before they know it.

In the case of opioid painkillers, dependency may even be life-threatening, with the risk of overdose frighteningly high. In 2016, abuse of prescription opioid painkillers and recreational opiates accounted for more than 40,000 US lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This cycle of illness, drugs, side effects and more drugs is wearing thin with many, and combined with the new wave of medical cannabis science, a clear divide has formed between those who favor prescription drugs, and those who’d rather take natural, plant-based medicines.

From a historical perspective, medicinal cannabis use makes perfect sense, with the herb being used for millennia across the world, but particularly in Africa and Asia.

Technological advancements have greatly developed our knowledge of cannabis, and scientists now know which compounds are responsible for various effects. For example, the psychoactive “high” mostly comes from a therapeutic cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, numerous other cannabinoids have medicinal properties, sans the hallucinogenic effects.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the most studied and seemingly most useful non-intoxicating cannabinoid, and the market for CBD products has exploded in the 2010s, thanks in part to the relaxation of laws surrounding non-psychoactive hemp.

CBD over opioids
Opioid-based painkillers like Tramadol are now regularly prescribed for chronic pain, with stronger synthetic drugs such as fentanyl available on prescription for the most extreme discomfort. These drugs are designed to interact with opioid receptors in the opioid system. The pain relief from these drugs is substantial, however sustained use leads to increased tolerance, stronger doses and addiction.

However, CBD may be helpful for chronic patients, and also those who have ended up dependent on opioids, as the cannabinoid seems to exhibit anti-addiction properties by interfering with pleasure-reward mechanisms.

By elevating concentrations of anandamide in the body, CBD is promoting a neurotransmitter that works to ease both physical and mental pain. How CBD tackles addiction is less clear, but some evidence indicates that CBD is active in the opioid system.

Not all pain is the same – for example, some chronic pain is persistent and always at a similar intensity, whereas the worst effects of inflammatory and neuropathic pain tend to come from flare-ups.

For internal neuropathic pain, CBD vape oil and e-liquid treatment is ideal, because the relief comes very quickly. Meanwhile, lingering pain is economically and perhaps more efficiently managed by orally-consumed CBD products (e.g. capsules, edibles, coffee).

Experimenting with gels, creams and balms infused with cannabis or CBD is a novel method of coping with localized pain. These ensure that the cannabinoid receptors in the affected area are directly activated.

CBD: the new anti-inflammatory drug?
Immune system response is still not well that understood, and this has made it difficult to control. Researchers have struggled to find ways of influencing inflammation, but studies into the endocannabinoid system have found that immune system response is accessible via cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). Endocannabinoids look to signal a stoppage in inflammation, after a wound has fully healed or an infection is neutralized.

This discovery may be crucial, as the current leading class of anti-inflammatories (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs) are known to cause concerning side effects, including stomach ulcers.

The best CBD product for inflammation depends, unsurprisingly on the type of inflammation. Internal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which could be exacerbated by endocannabinoid deficiency, respond well to both CBD vape juice and CBD edibles, or even tincture oils.

For osteoarthritis, a form of inflammation which affects the joints, CBD creams and other topicals are likely to produce better results.

CBD’s promise as an antidepressant
Cannabinoid research is providing genuine hope for antidepressant researchers, after decades of stagnation in medication development. The current situation with depression medicine is far from ideal, with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) slow to show benefits – for up to 40 percent of patients, these drugs may not even work at all. And then there are the side effects to contend with, which range from drowsiness to impotence. Depersonalization and derealization have also been anecdotally reported with SSRIs.

However, a glut of promising studies on CBD and the brain have found that the ECS could be important in correcting off-balance brain chemistry. The CB1 receptor modulates many variables, mood being one, and the bond between anandamide and this receptor is important for good mental wellbeing. Factors outside of the ECS also affect mood, but the potency of anandamide as an antidepressant makes the link with the CB1 receptor an essential one.

Some of the most exciting research on cannabinoids has been on their neuroprotective and neurogenesis properties. Studies on the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex and cannabinoid treatments, which are associated with depression, have demonstrated that CBD is able to repair these regions of the brain, by restoring neuronal circuitry and helping to form new brain cells.

A 2018 study on rats carried out in Brazil showed that CBD was effective from the first treatment and for up to seven days after the last dose at blocking synaptic proteins which damage neuronal circuitry in the prefrontal cortex. Meanwhile, CBD-initiated neurogenesis in the hippocampus helps to regrow the brains of adult rats with depression. These results have not yet been replicated in humans, but rats are used for such studies because their brains are similar to humans. General memories and our autobiographical memory are stored in the hippocampus.

The only CBD products that aren’t suitable for managing depression are topicals, as the cannabinoids remain in the skin, and do not reach the brain.