Among the several health benefits of CBD oil, the most important one seems to be the ability to protect against neurodegenerative diseases. As previously shown, cannabidiol-rich oil extracted from hemp exerts antioxidant effects and acts as a natural neuroprotective agent, minimizing the effects of oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress is believed to be the root cause of numerous ailments, including neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, atherosclerosis, heart disorders and heart failure, inflammatory diseases and even certain forms of cancer. At the same time, oxidative stress is thought to be speed up the aging process by altering the structure and functioning of all body cells.

While we can’t prevent oxidative stress, we can minimize its harmful effects by increasing the intake of antioxidants. The human body naturally produces antioxidants, but the amounts are often insufficient for blocking or neutralizing the effects of free radicals.

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that are produced during breathing and interact with other molecules within cells. When the number of free radicals outweighs the number of antioxidants in cells, the equilibrium is altered and oxidative stress occurs.

Exposure to pollutants, UV rays, smoking, certain medications as well as an inadequate intake of dietary antioxidants or excessive exercise can increase the production of free radicals. If the body’s immune system becomes unable to detoxify and to neutralize the free radicals, the risk of ailment increases.

The antioxidant and neuroprotective benefits of CBD oil

Antioxidants are compounds that have the ability to repair the molecules damaged by free radicals, and to neutralize the harmful effects of oxidative stress. They support the immune system and prevent the damaging reactions caused by free radicals by donating an electron to these molecules.

Free radicals are highly unstable compounds that need to “borrow” an electron from other molecules in order to survive. When they do this, they cause damage to those cells and impair their functioning. By stabilizing free radicals, antioxidants prevent the chemical chain reactions triggered by the harmful compounds.

An adequate intake of antioxidants can reduce the risk of developing the aforementioned ailments, strengthen the immune function and slow down the aging process. Dietary sources of antioxidants include citrus fruits, berries, beans, apples, pecans, potatoes … and CBD oil, as studies have shown (1, 2, 3).

Through its high concentration of cannabinoids and especially cannabidiol, oil extracted from the hemp plant can neutralize the effects of free radicals and protect against neurodegenerative disorders and age-related brain changes. This is one of the benefits of CBD oil that recommends it as a natural health-enhancing agent.

Just like any other system of the body, the nervous system is exposed to aging, and research has shown that brain cells are especially vulnerable to oxidative damage and inflammation caused by free radicals. In the young, healthy brain, neurons communicate with one another through electrical impulses and chemical signals (neurotransmitters) that cross the synapses (junctions between two neurons) and bind to specific receptors in brain cells.

When the communication between neurons is altered and the signals aren’t sent properly, due to damaged synapses or depleted levels of neurotransmitters, neurodegenerative disorders can occur. Stress, neurotoxins, drugs, caffeine and alcohol abuse, a poor diet and genetic predisposition can all cause the levels of neurotransmitters to be out of optimal range, and thus can favor neurodegenerative diseases.

But even in people with a healthy lifestyle, the levels of neurotransmitters can still decrease due to aging. While we can’t avoid aging, we can minimize its impact on brain’s function and health by taking advantage of the endocannabinoid system.

Endocannabinoids are a group of chemicals that activate the same receptors as cannabinoids and they act similarly to neurotransmitters. The neuroprotective effect of CBD oil is therefore explained by its ability to activate the endocannabinoid system. To learn more about the benefits of CBD oil and its health effects, check out our Education section.