Neurology Insights

Medical Cannabis & The Brain

Have you noticed?

If you have been anywhere these past couple of years, you may have seen an uptick in the availability of cannabis products like CBD. And with its increased popularity and use, it’s essential to know what it is and how it interacts with the brain and body.

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is a plant family known for its psychoactive properties and controversial reputation. And this is primarily due to the unique chemical profile of the cannabis plant. Comprised of hundreds of cannabinoid compounds, ingesting this plant creates an immediate psychological and physical effect on the human body.

Our bodies are prone to these effects due to the intricate cannabinoid system of receptors located in cells across the body. These cells interact with the same nervous system that controls brain function, motor ability, and perception. Over the past couple of years, increased funding has been dedicated to cannabis research, but we are just the tip of the iceberg. While the immediate effects of cannabis use are known, long-term studies are still needed to determine the efficacy of long-term use.

One very interesting recent study highlights the benefits of CBD oil in preventing and treating SARS-CoV-2. (https://

What we do know

Today, we know that regular ingestion of the Cannabis Sativa plant poses questionable effects on the brain. These effects are due to the psychoactive THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) chemical compound in the plant. Chronic recreational use on the developing brain is associated with poor cognition on behavioral tests, changes in memory and attention, and judgment difficulties. A possible relationship between early adolescent substance abuse and the development of psychological disorders such as psychosis and chronic depression has also been linked.

Current research is underway to determine the effects of medical use of cannabis on various subjects of post-adolescent years. Some of which involve pre-and postmenopausal women, veterans, sufferers of mood disorders (anxiety and depression), and chronic pain.

So, what about CBD?

CBD (Cannabidiol) is the non-psychoactive chemical present in the cannabis and hemp plant; this is the chemical that research speculates has the most medicinal effects. Today CBD has been added to nearly everything – teas, bath and beauty products, specialty foods, and more.

Studies have shown promising medicinal effects of CBD on the nervous system, and it is currently being prescribed for neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and disorders such as epilepsy. It seems to be effective for muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, as well as relaxing the central nervous system.

CBD can also affect one’s mood when it comes to the brain. Some studies suggest CBD usage can boost serotonin levels in the brain, in turn being a helpful supplement for patients struggling with anxiety and depressive disorders.

Effects in the body have also been shown to reduce inflammation and pain. In recent studies, a group of subjects underwent neuroimaging testing to see how this works; subjects who took CBD displayed positive physical changes in brain activity. Neural pathways that were responsible for psychological and mood disturbances were shown to be downregulated. That means that the nervous system does not react to – or reacts less actively to – cues from the body that indicate pain and negative emotions.

Medical Benefits & Concerns

The American Academy for Neurology (AAN) supports the evidence-based use of “FDA approved plant-based pharmaceutical-grade cannabidiol (CBD) product that can be legally prescribed in all 50 states without need for a special Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) license to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS)7 and Dravet syndrome8 for patients two years and older, and tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) for patients one year and older.”

While these are very specific and limited indications, it shows that there is indeed a benefit from medical-grade CBD treatment in neurologic conditions.

As it stands today, more quality studies and research are needed to determine the medical benefit of cannabis products for treating a wider range of neurologic and medical disorders.

Before shopping for CBD, it is essential to consult your physician about any possible interactions with current medications. And remember: Every human being is different, so what works for someone may not work for you!

With limited extensive research and consistent quality control, seeking counsel and investigating your products does not hurt. When buying any product you will ingest – always make sure that it is certified.

We have had very good results referring our patients to Miss Penny at But we warn our patients that Miss Penny is a talker. That is because she has a great deal of experience and so much to say about CBD oil and its many benefits.

A message from Dr. Kandel

Like any other medical product or disorder, a multifactorial approach is always the best approach. Relying on just one product to treat an illness does not make sense. For high blood pressure, diet, nutrition, exercise, and medications are routinely the way to treat this disorder. The same thing applies to treating disorders with CBD products. CBD is just one tool in our toolbelt; just imagine if you were a carpenter and only had a hammer; by definition, the entire world must look like a nail. But if you have many tools to work with, you can treat many different problems, and of course, the treatment will be much more effective.So here’s to a complementary approach to your healthcare, and a better approach to your Health!”

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“To Cure Sometimes, To Heal Often, To Comfort Always”

Neurology Office, Joseph Kandel M.D. and Associates

Concierge medicine without the concierge price”

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