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Neuroplasticity, Neurogenesis & CBD

Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity, is a term that refers to the brain's ability to change and adapt as a result of experience.

Plasticity refers to the brain's malleability, which is defined as being “easily influenced, trained, or controlled.” Neuro refers to neurons, the nerve cells that are the building blocks of the brain and nervous system. Thus, neuroplasticity is when nerve cells change or adjust.

Change of neural pathways and synapses in is completely natural process. The changes can be in response to environmental or behavioral and neural shifts. The brain is continuously closing synapses, trimming them, and creating new pathways. 

Neurogenesis and Cannabinoids

The endocannabinoid system—especially its CB2 receptors—participates in the formation of new nerves in the adult brain. A healthy endocannabinoid system functions as the primary regulator of adult neuroplasticity. It is critical to brain health throughout life but especially as we get older. An unbalanced endocannabinoid system means these same synapses remain inactive and our brain function decreases. 

Back in 2005, Dr. Xia Zhang at the University of Saskatchewan showed that cannabinoids cause “neurogenesis” – which means that they help make new brain cells grow!

“Most ‘drugs of abuse’ suppress neurogenesis,” said Dr. Zhang. “Marijuana promotes neurogenesis.”

Scientists in Brazil expanded on this research, demonstrating in 2013 that CBD, another chemical in cannabis, also causes new brain cells to sprout up. Researchers in Italy then produced the same result with CBC, another “cannabinoid” found in cannabis resin.

Now there is no doubt that cannabinoids cause new brain cells to grow in the hippocampus. This helps explain previous research showing that cannabinoids effectively treat mood disorders like depression, anxiety and stress – they are all related to a lack of adult neurogenesis.

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