Understanding the Many Effects of Hemp on the Nervous System

effects of hemp on the nervous system

Posted on November 20th, 2020

Since 8,000 BC, humans have used hemp for various products ranging from industrial products such as paper, ropes, and lamp fuels, to medicinal topicals. However, it wasn’t until much later, in 1940, that Roger Adams discovered the CBD compound at the University of Illinois. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many cannabinoid chemical molecules that cannabis contains. This particular phytocannabinoid has taken the health and wellness world by storm. It has emerged as a popular supplement for people with various conditions, from anxiety to insomnia. One of the key elements behind this compound’s popularity is the effects of hemp on the nervous system. Cannabinoids interact with receptors in the nervous system to cause a wide range of bodily reactions.

What Are The Effects Of Hemp On The Nervous System?

CBD directly interacts with your central nervous system. But how, exactly? While many people assume that the intoxication from THC is the only effect cannabis can have, the plant is much more complex than that. Hemp and marijuana are both types of cannabis, and both contain hundreds of compounds and chemicals. THC is what gets users “high”, but the hemp plant has less than 0.3% THC content and produces higher levels of CBD. This is part of the reason people are interested in CBD— they want potential benefits without the intoxication. Well, hemp provides exactly that.

CBD may provide a wide range of neurological effects such as suppressing seizures, relieving pain, and reducing inflammation. From the economic recession to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are many things to worry about now. People are looking for any stress relief they can find, and hemp-derived CBD could be what answers their call. But what does using CBD do to your nervous system? The endocannabinoid is the doorway that CBD uses to access the nervous system, so let’s start by walking through that door.

An Introduction To The Endocannabinoid System

To grasp the effects of hemp on the nervous system, you must first understand the endocannabinoid system and its role in the body. So what is it?

CBD interacts with the body through the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a physiological system that assists the body in maintaining homeostasis. It plays a role in regulating the body’s intracellular communication, pain responses, appetite, immune system, and memory. The ECS comprises three fundamental elements: endocannabinoids, metabolic enzymes, and cannabinoid receptors.

Cannabinoid Receptor Sites

There are cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, including the central nervous system. Other locations include various organs, immune cells, and the brain. Depending on what the body needs, these cannabinoid receptors move and express themselves to a lesser or greater extent.

The fact that hemp-derived CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors is crucial to understanding effects of hemp on the nervous system. The endocannabinoid system has two types of receptors:

CB1 Receptors: These receptors are scattered throughout the body but are concentrated and act on gonads, organs, tissues, the brain, and the spinal cord. CB1 receptors also exist in the hippocampus, basal ganglia, reproductive organs, and the cerebellum.

CB2 Receptors: These receptors are prominent in the immune system and peripheral nervous system. The spleen, thymus gland, and tonsils contain CB2 receptors.

The body naturally produces endocannabinoids to activate these receptors, though phytocannabinoids such as CBD also stimulate the same receptors.

An Introduction To The Nervous System

Broadly speaking, the body’s nervous system is a complex network that coordinates the body’s sensations, coordination, and reflexes. It consists of the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS is organized into two main parts: the brain, and the spinal cord. There are cannabinoid receptors throughout both.

– The Brain: You could say the brain is the central nervous system’s headquarters. The brain is in charge of controlling most of the body’s functions such as movement, awareness, senses, etc. The four general sections of the brain are the temporal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, and frontal lobe. Each section plays a different role. For instance, the parietal lobe processes all sensory information.

– The Spinal Cord: The spinal cord is responsible for carrying signals between the brain and the rest of the body. It also coordinates motor function by transporting motor commands from the brain to the muscles. Sensory information also travels through the spinal cord.

CBD Interacts With Many Different Receptor Systems

Through the ECS, hemp directly impacts the nervous system. However, CBD does not directly affect cannabinoid receptors. Instead, it interacts with these receptors indirectly.

Even more intriguing, hemp-derived CBD also interacts with many non-cannabinoid receptor systems in the nervous system. These include dopamine receptors, which affect many aspects of behavior and cognition.

There’s a range of ways in which CBD affects the nervous system. Below is a look at some of the proven interactions between CBD and the nervous system.

Proven Effects Of Hemp On The Nervous System

CBD & Serotonin Receptors

CBD’s ability to target specific serotonin receptors, the serotonin 1A receptor, has remarkable possibilities. These receptors play a significant role in the release of cortisol and oxytocin, which are the hormones that cause reactions to stress, metabolism, and social behavior, respectively. CBD’s apparent ability to target serotonin 1A receptor means that it could impede certain problems such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and neuropathic pain.  

CBD & Opioid Receptors

CBD’s other important effect on the central nervous system is that CBD seems to disrupt opioid receptors. Overlapping neuroreceptors take in both CBD and opiates. This raises the interesting possibility that CBD may dampen drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms that often underlies addiction. 

CBD & Orphan Receptors (GPR55)

Some studies indicate that CBD can function as a neuroprotective agent through orphan receptors and can promote overall functionality within neurons in the body. CBD deactivates or blocks GPR55 receptors to promote proper levels of calcium in the neurons. When activated, they help the neurons to incite the proper responses. Additionally, over-activated GPR55 is linked to improper programmed cell death. In this sense, by blocking orphan receptor signaling, CBD promotes the correct programmed cell death. 

CBD & Nuclear Receptors (PPARs)

Studies show that CBD activates PPARs (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors) to produce a possible anti-cancer effect. These receptors reside on the surface of the cell’s nucleus. An antiproliferative effect occurs when PPAR-gamma receptors are activated. Regressing tumors in lung cancer cell lines have also coincided with PPAR-gamma activation, but more research is needed in this area. 

CBD & Anandamide

According to several studies, CBD in the central nervous system inhibits anandamide breakdown and reuptake. This boosts endocannabinoid levels in the brain’s synapses. Anandamide is associated with the neural generation of pleasure, motivation, and movement control. Higher levels of anandamide in the brain increase its neuroprotective effects against brain inflammation, seizures, and other problems.

Secondary Effects of Hemp on the Nervous System

CBD’s interaction with the nervous system may yields effects that target neurological symptoms.

Reduces Inflammation

In recent studies, CBD reduced the impact of oxygen buildup, inflammation, and brain cell decline. Inflammation, which is a primary cause of Alzheimer’s symptoms, tends to increase the impact of Alzheimer’s disease. When immune cells in the brain fail to clear disorienting blockages, the inflammatory response occurs.

Alzheimer’s patient’s brains often show inflammation and oxygen buildup. Vital brain functions such as memory deteriorate as more oxygen is released in the brain. Increased oxygen in brain cells can cause rapid cell decline and destruction. CBD is an antioxidant and possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce, prevent, and possibly reverse inflammation in the brain.

hemp terpenesStress, Anxiety, And Depression

Recent study findings from Neurotherapeutics imply that CBD may help reduce the anxiety that individuals with particular anxiety disorders experience.

In another study, rat test subjects in stressful situations saw an immediate decrease in mental and physical stress symptoms through CBD’s interaction with 5HT1A receptors.

Reduces Seizures

One of the most publicized hemp effects on the nervous system is its effect on seizures. CBD use can reduce both the frequency and intensity of seizures for people with MS (Multiple Sclerosis), epilepsy, and other seizure-related disorders. A study published in the Journal of Epilepsy Research showed that CBD improved seizure control in people with epilepsy.

Seizure treatment also claims the one hemp-derived drug that has FDA approval. The drug is called Epidiolex and can indeed help ease the suffering of seizure-prone people.

Conclusion on Effects of Hemp on the Nervous System

While many studies have directed their focus on understanding marijuana and THC, hemp and CBD have been catching up. Hemp’s effects on the body, including the nervous system, are causing research to expand. More studies are happening, and knowledge regarding hemp’s effects will grow.

If you’re looking for a natural, holistic supplement for you or a loved one, consider CBD. While the rigorous standards of the scientific community still require more evidence, numerous studies and anecdotal evidence continue to imply the great usefulness of hemp. The nervous system clearly plays a big role in the effects that hemp has on the body. Because the FDA does not currently regulate hemp products, you need to thoroughly research any CBD product you want to try. The millions of dollars of scientific research behind Tanasi’s hemp extracts are a good first step in proving their quality.


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