Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in cannabis that has been gaining attention for its potential therapeutic benefits. It has been found to affect both the surface of the brain (cortex) and a deep part of the brain called the basal ganglia. CBD is known to interact with the endocannabinoid system, which helps to regulate various functions in the body, including mood, memory, and pain perception. It can also modulate levels of neurotransmitters such as glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Studies have shown that CBD can help reduce anxiety and improve cognitive performance. It has also been found to protect neurons from degeneration, potentially helping to keep the brain younger. In this article, we will explore how CBD affects the brain and discuss the potential implications for people with psychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We will also look at the current research on CBD's effects on brain function in healthy volunteers and people diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.
The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of receptors and enzymes that helps to regulate various functions in the body, including mood, memory, and pain perception. CBD interacts with this system by stimulating it to produce more of its own cannabinoids and delaying their breakdown. This can help to reduce anxiety and improve cognitive performance. In people with ASD, CBD has been found to modulate levels of cerebral excitatory glutamate and inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), including in ASD-related brain regions such as the basal ganglia (BG) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC).
Studies have also shown that CBD can help reduce anxiety and improve cognitive performance in people at high clinical risk of psychosis and patients with established psychosis. In addition, chronic administration of CBD can result in a steady state, in which the plasticity of the brain system is balanced by the presence of CBD. This could potentially help to reduce symptoms associated with psychiatric disorders such as ASD. Finally, studies have shown that acute exposure to CBD can result in changes in brain activity compared to placebo and healthy controls while performing cognitive tasks. This suggests that CBD could be useful for treating conditions such as migraines, mental confusion, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Overall, there is evidence that CBD can affect various aspects of brain function.
However, more research is needed to better understand how it works in humans and its potential therapeutic benefits for people with psychiatric disorders such as ASD.