CBD is quickly becoming a household name. Indeed, 64 million American adults report that they’ve tried CBD before. Meanwhile, 22% of users replaced their prescription medication with CBD.

Why are so many people interested in products made of this little cannabinoid? Because of its robust effects on the brain. Much like a nootropic, CBD offers benefits to brain function and cognition.

You may be wondering: is CBD a nootropic? We’re exploring that question with this guide to nootropics, CBD, and its incredible benefits for the brain. First, let’s talk about what exactly CBD is and how it interacts with your brain cells.

What Exactly is CBD?

CBD is a cannabinoid, one of the 100+ cannabinoids found in hemp. Like THC, CBD interacts with our brain and body to exert its effects. Unlike THC, though, CBD is non-intoxicating, which means it won’t get you high.

Why does CBD differ so much from THC? It’s because of the way the CBD molecule influences the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is made up of millions of receptors, shaped perfectly for cannabinoids like CBD to “unlock” them.

When CBD does unlock these receptors, a flurry of activity follows. This activity (among other things) is responsible for making you feel the effects of CBD.

Yet, CBD is unique for the way it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. It doesn’t directly unlock receptors itself. Instead, CBD may recruit other molecules to influence these receptors.

Some researchers think that’s why CBD doesn’t have any negative side effects. Others agree and add that CBD’s mechanism of action explains why you can use it without fear of dependence or addiction.

If you want to try it out for yourself, here’s a list of the best CBD oil products on the market right now.

Nootropics Explained

Here’s a quick brush up on nootropics just in case you need a reminder. Nootropics is the name for a whole class of compounds, both chemical and natural. These compounds have in common that they influence brain function and cognition.

What does that mean? Boosting brain function and cognition can offer any of the following benefits:

  • Boosting memory
  • Improving attention span
  • Enhancing learning
  • Protecting brain cells

If a compound is demonstrated to do any of these things with little to no side effects, it’s typically considered a nootropic.

So, Is CBD a Nootropic?

Now that you know more about CBD and nootropics, let’s break down exactly what CBD needs to do to be considered one.

CBD must affect brain function and cognition; CBD must either improve memory, attention span, learning, or protect brain cells; and CBD must do these things with few or zero side effects.

We’ve already mentioned that CBD does affect brain function and cognition. We’ve also described how CBD can do so without causing side effects, dependence, or addiction. But can CBD offer the same amazing benefits as other nootropics?

You’re about to find out, so keep reading.

CBD May Protect Brain Cells

When a substance is showed to protect brain cells from damage or death, it’s said to have neuroprotective properties. Much research has looked at the benefits of CBD (among other cannabinoids) for neurodegenerative disorders.

Neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s feature the loss of brain cells in their pathologies. Researchers used this fact to speculate that if CBD can improve these conditions, it must do so through neuroprotective properties.

Years later, dozens of studies have investigated this hypothesis. What they’ve found is that CBD has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on brain cells. This helps reduce oxidative stress, regulate the release of inflammatory cytokines, and increase neuronal calcium, all of which are associated with cell survival.

CBD May Reduce Inflammation in the Brain

Inflammation in the brain isn’t only responsible for cell death. It’s also responsible for symptoms like brain fog, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating. That’s why researchers think it’s so exciting that CBD may decrease inflammation.

Studies have found that CBD may decrease levels of endogenous reactive oxygen species (ROSs). ROSs are unstable compounds that get into the body via pollution and other means. They cause inflammation, which is associated with a whole host of medical conditions.

For example, asthma, arthritis, and Crohn’s disease are all conditions caused by increased inflammation. Some scientists think brain inflammation, in particular, is related to depression and anxiety. Anti-inflammatory CBD may be a promising way to help with these conditions.

CBD May Influence Immune Health

Did you know that the brain plays a huge role in immunology, and vice versa? That’s why poor immune health can lead to problems like slow learning and low memory recall. The good news is that the endocannabinoid system can help.

The endocannabinoid system is intimately intertwined with immunity. It should be no surprise, then, that CBD has been studied for its effects on the immune system. Specifically, CBD may suppress immune system activity.

While this may sound like a bad thing, suppressing immune system cells is actually good because it inhibits overactivity. Overactive immune systems are common in conditions like cancer, Type 1 diabetes, lupus, and more.

The Final Word on the Benefits of CBD for the Brain

So, is CBD a nootropic? CBD does affect brain function and cognition, has little to no side effects, and offers benefits like neuroprotection. In our book, these three factors make CBD the perfect example of a natural nootropic.

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