The biological system of the human body is absolutely amazing. The organic ensemble of fibers, nerve endings, tissues, and whatnot are so complicated and in the right situation, is completely capable of restoring itself. Most of it is due to the endocannabinoid system present in each and every mammal on the planet. The brain forms also part of this equation and the adult brain can produce new neurons. This process is called neurogenesis.
Neurogenesis mostly takes part in two parts of the brain. It takes place in the subventricular Zone (SVZ) and the subgranular zone (SGZ). Neurogenesis is vitally important in the adult brain as it regulates mood, brain health, and learning. Some psychiatric disorders are believed to be related to impaired neurogenesis.
Brain Injury and Damage spark Healing
Whenever the brain gets injured by either a serious accident or small bumps, the Neuro Stem and Progenitor Cells (NSPC) are influenced by several internal and external aspects. The rate of how fast healing will take place is controlled by these factors. Things like lineage differentiation, proliferation, maturation, migration, and survival are subject to these controls. When these aspects are clearly understood, more effective therapeutic ways and medications could be on the table to speed up the healing process. The brain is always doing its part and will always tempt to speed healing along. Understanding how to contribute is what researchers are working on non- stop.
Where does the Endocannabinoid System come in?
The endocannabinoid system with its own cannabinoid molecules and receptors are found all over the body. They are found in the brain as well as the immune system. They are also present in organs, skin, and tissues of your body. In any injury, the endocannabinoid system ignites the production of endocannabinoids and receptors to aid in the healing process. Therefore, it is concluded that the endocannabinoid system also helps with neural regeneration. In certain scientific tests, where the CB1 receptors of mice were blocked, neurogenesis significantly reduced. The tests were confirmed in vitro when neural cells, growth, and division of neuro progenitor cells were constrained when the CB1 and CB2 receptors were blocked.
Since the legalization of Cannabis, more studies were done on the role of cannabinoids in neurogenesis due to the multiplicity of neuro-modulatory functions. The CB1 and CB2 receptors regulate adult neurogenesis by intervening at specific neurogenic phases. When CB1 and CB2 receptors were activated by specific agonists, it regulates cell proliferation, maturation, and neural differentiation. There is definite interaction between the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factors (BDNF) and endocannabinoid signaling. The interaction triggers a release of endocannabinoids at cortical excitatory synapsis. This means that the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoids derived from cannabis work together with the BDNF to fine-tune neurogenesis.
THC administration before Brain Injury
Clinical studies show that THC has neuroprotective abilities when it is administered before traumatic brain injuries. In fact, regular cannabis consumers with a positive THC screen showed decreased cell mortality. THC can provide impairment protection to the brain if taken before an injury.
CBD Speeds Neurogenesis Up
Cannabidiol or CBD has a positive effect on neurogenesis. Brain damage provoked by stress and anxiety benefits from CBD as it reduces neurogenesis. Because CBD is taken in small amounts, the effect it not immediately. There are high levels of CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain where Neuron progenitor cells are found and where neuron growth and differentiation are promoted. The enzymes helping the endocannabinoid arachidonoylglecerol (2-AG), are also in this part of the brain. It is just another confirmation that the endocannabinoid system is part of neurogenesis. Both the cannabinoid receptors are involved and when the signaling pathways are activated by the cannabinoids, it motivates the neuron progenitor cells to grow and divide.
Cannabinoids Maintain Cellular Health
When there is sufficient growth of neuron progenitor cells, they migrate to the different parts of the brain. This is called differentiation. They change into the type of cell the brain needs at the time. Cannabinoids are intricate in this process as well. When differentiation is complete, the CB receptors remain there. Their role is to signal if the cell must live, should receive cell maintenance, or should be subjected to programmed cell death.
An interesting finding is that the cannabinoid-induced effects upon cell proliferation and neuronal differentiation depend a hundred percent on the presence of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factors). This means that there exists a BDNF-endocannabinoid feedback loop. This is how the processes are regulated. The BDNF regulates neural sensitivity to the endocannabinoid system through positive feedback. This is important for the regulation of neuronal survival. The BDFN is also involved in actions mediated by cannabinoids against excitotoxicity. (the pathological process where nerve cells are damaged or killed by excessive stimulation by neurotransmitters) This is specifically important in synaptic transmission, plasticity, and various behavioral outputs.
The cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant plays an important role together with the endocannabinoid system to promote healing in the brain.