Dopamine is what activates the brain's pleasure centers. CBD oil can alter dopamine levels in the body to offer a range of benefits and influence behavior.
Deficiency in the body’s dopamine levels can result in several disorders, apart from just having an impact on one’s mood. Parkinson’s disease is the result of degeneration of neurons that secrete dopamine in the substantia nigra. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is also associated with a drop in dopamine activity, making concentration and focus difficult. Depression is another mental health disorder that can result from low levels of dopamine in the body. This can result in loss of motivation as well as reduced pleasure experienced from daily activities. Low dopamine levels in the body are also likely to lead to greater struggles with addiction.
CBD and Dopamine
Neurotransmitters are responsible for the communication of messages between neurons. An imbalance in the level of neurotransmitters in the body can lead to several neurological disorders. Dopamine is one such neurotransmitter produced by two main regions of the brain:
Despite being a cannabinoid, high-quality CBD doesn’t interact directly with CB1 and CB2 receptors. In fact, its interactions help in reducing the extreme effects of THC. It also raises the body’s level of naturally produced cannabinoids through inhibition of the enzymes that break them down. CBD also interacts with opioid receptors to regulate the perception of pain in the body.
CBD doesn’t have a direct influence on dopamine levels in the body. It acts on the 5-HT1A receptors present in numerous brain regions, specifically the pleasure areas where dopamine activity takes place.
“Acute THC administration causes increased dopamine release and neuron activity, whereas long-term use is associated with blunting of the dopamine system.”
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps to process our brains’ natural reward system. It is released in response to pleasurable stimuli. Activities such as sex, sleep, and eating all-cause dopamine to be released in the brain, giving us a feeling of satisfaction and making us feel relaxed and content.
Not to worry too much though, if you’ve been a regular cannabis smoker for some time and you are trying to quit, The Department of Psychiatry from the New York State Psychiatric Institute compared the brain of previous marijuana consumers with that of a non-consumer, and the results were surprising.
How Does Dopamine Interact with Cannabis?
That said, cannabis can impose a form of psychological dependence in long-term users. Regular cannabis users get used to smoking weed, and it becomes a habit that can be hard to quit. This is all down to the relationship between cannabis and a chemical in our brain, known as dopamine.
However, a 2016 paper clearly stated:
Dopamine neurons have no cannabinoid receptors present. So, cannabinoids cannot act directly on them. However, GABA neurons limit the amount of dopamine released in our reward pathways. GABA neurons contain no cannabinoid receptors, so they inhibit them, creating a double-negative situation in the brain. When GABA neurons inhibit what inhibits dopamine neurons, cannabinoids increase levels of dopamine in the brain indirectly.
Although cannabis is not physiologically addictive, its effects have been linked to some forms of psychological dependence. Unlike alcohol, cannabis is not chemically addictive; therefore, it doesn’t have the harsh withdrawal symptoms associated with alcoholism, tobacco smoking, or narcotic substances.