People often wonder how powerful CBD really is, or what its true potential is. A recent study sought to find out more about exactly that, and more specifically, how potent CBD is when it comes to interacting with the human brain. What they found was eye-opening and provided many researchers with optimistic results for the future of both CBD and brain research. 

The researchers found that just a single dose of CBD was powerful enough to temporarily increase blood flow to certain parts of the brain. What does that mean exactly? Scientists are still working out all the specific details and working through the potential, but in short it could mean important advancements for people suffering from PTSD, anxiety, and other mental issues, whether they are chronic or temporary. 

The Study

This particular study was reported in the Journal of Psychopharmacology after researchers in London discovered amazing results from a controlled experiment. In this study, 15 healthy people were given either 600mg of oral CBD or a placebo on a number of different occasions. After administering the doses of CBD, scientists used magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, scans to monitor how the drug was interacting with the body and what effects it had on the blood oxygen levels in the brain. 

They found that just a single dose of CBD instantly and significantly increased blood flow to the brain, especially to the hippocampus structure. The hippocampus plays a huge role in the way humans feel emotions, how they learn, and the overall stability and function of their memory. Researchers also found that blood flow was increased to the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for processing social behavior and overall decision making.

What This Means

In order to understand the potential of CBD for the brain, it’s important to understand what CBD is and how it interacts with the human body. 

CBD Basics

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid molecule produced by the cannabis plant that can be naturally consumed in marijuana or hemp products. It is often removed from the plant through a process of extraction and made into a variety of CBD products like oil, edibles, or salves. 

One area that researchers are especially curious about is CBD’s potential to help neurological conditions. With research compounding and new studies being regularly conducted, scientists are finding more intriguing benefits of CBD and learning more about the way it interacts with the brain. Understanding how CBD and other cannabinoids function in the brain is complicated because the brain itself is incredibly involved and contains a wide variety of receptors handling a multitude of interactions every single second. 

Besides increasing the blood flow to the brain, research also suggests that CBD can help treat the following conditions:

  • Epilepsy and other seizure disorders [1]
  • Pain [2]
  • Inflammation [3]
  • PTSD [4]
  • Anxiety [5]
  • Multiple sclerosis [6]
  • Opioid withdrawal [7]


The Endocannabinoid System

Now that CBD has been explained, it’s time to discuss the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for the way CBD interacts with the body. The ECS manages a constant state of homeostasis in the body. This is an important function because all of our internal systems need to be in equilibrium to work effectively. When any sort of instability is registered, the ETS kicks in and rushes to the location of the issue to stabilize it.  

There are three primary pieces that make up the endocannabinoid system: 

  1. Endocannabinoids. The chemical compounds the body naturally produces. These are structurally similar to endocannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in cannabis. 
  2. Cannabinoid receptors. Found on the surface of cells throughout the body, endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are able to attach to receptors allowing them to communicate with a variety of systems inside the body. This communication is what enables the ECS to detect and correct instability. 
  3. Enzymes. Proteins that work to break down the cannabinoids and endocannabinoids after they’ve attached themselves to the receptors and after homeostasis has been achieved. Enzymes make sure the cannabinoids do not create an overcorrection once the risk has been effectively corrected. 

Inside the brain are highly specialized cells called neurons which connect to other neurons through structures called synapses. These neurons release chemicals known as neurotransmitters which are able to communicate with each other. Each neuron has its own receptor and these receptors respond to chemicals produced by the brain (like dopamine and serotonin) as well as chemicals produced outside the body, like cannabinoids. 

Since cannabinoids from cannabis plants are similar to naturally produced compounds in the body, it’s possible for CBD to attach to the receptors just as endocannabinoids do. CBD has the ability to bind to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, and once attached acts as a blocker, binding to receptors and dampening their signals. 

Who This Can Help

The study suggests that people suffering from a wide range of mental issues can potentially benefit from adding CBD to the daily routines, but it appears to be especially effective to those suffering from the follow conditions:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 

This is a condition that occurs after a person has experienced a hazardous event. It’s normal for someone to feel fear whenever they find themselves in a dangerous situation; that feeling of fear is what triggers a human’s natural fight-or-flight response, or their immediate decision in the face of danger to run away or stay and fight. This reaction is deeply embedded in humans and has been an important part of survival for thousands of years. What triggers the diagnosis of PTSD is what occurs after a traumatic event takes place. 

After the event, almost everyone will experience some sort of emotional response, yet most will naturally recover from those feelings over time. The people who are unable to rebound from those devastating feelings, however, may find themselves experiencing long-term emotional problems and ultimately find themselves diagnosed with PTSD. Those who suffer from PTSD can find themselves feeling stressed or frightened over the course of a normal day, when there is no actual danger presenting itself. They are sometimes easily triggered by things that are seemingly unrelated to the previous trauma, or very closely related. This can obviously have debilitating results on a person’s ability to lead a comfortable life.  


We all experience stress or anxiety at some point in our lives. Whether it’s a demanding job, a bustling family, or the burdens of modern life, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Often, anxiety is temporary and based around some sort of short-term situation. Once the situation is resolved, the feeling will dissipate and life can get back to normal. However, when a person feels a sense of constant dread and uncertainty, they are experiencing something called chronic anxiety and it is considered a serious mental disorder. 

Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States that 40 million adults suffer from every year [8]. Common symptoms of anxiety are excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry. These feelings cause mental anguish and lead to issues such as insomnia, depression, and social isolation. They can also cause physical changes in the body, including headaches, a pounding heart, difficulty breathing, upset stomach, increased blood pressure, extreme fatigue, and muscle aches. Managing this feeling is not only important to a person’s mental health, but also to their physical.  


The results of this study are very promising to not only those suffering from temporary and chronic mental conditions, but also to scientists and researchers across the globe. The more they explore the possibilities of CBD, the closer they get to finding effective solutions for any number of common ailments people suffer from. This particular study gives researchers hope for more progress in the area of Alzheimer’s prevention and care, as well as other conditions like schizophrenia and the often debilitating PTSD. The world can expect to see more studies such as this one and with each new study, learn more about the power of CBD and the many benefits it can bring to our lives.