A recently published paper suggested that CBD is an effective method to bypass the body's blood-brain barrier, Inverse reports. The barrier's primary function is what its name suggests: blocking most bloodstream molecules—including ones from life-saving drugs—from entering the brain.
The paper, published on March 13 in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, found that packaging drug-carrying nanocapsules with cannabidiol (CBD), naturally found in hemp and cannabis, allowed scientists to dodge the blood-brain barrier.
Scientists from The Open University in the UK and from Complutense University of Madrid performed the study in both a model of the barrier and in mice, showing that the breakthrough methodology is more effective than existing techniques of penetrating the barrier. It could allow doctors to treat central nervous system diseases far more effectively, as the barrier has been a major roadblock to successful treatment administration.
Lipid nanocapsules have been the popular delivery method of chemotherapy drugs into the bloodstreams of cancer patients. Though the drug-loaded nanoparticles are able to reach most organs easily, they struggle to reach the brain because of the barrier, and as a result, treatment for multiple sclerosis and brain tumors are often inefficient.
But the results of this project have implications that could change that.
The team "decorated" traditional lipid nanocapsules with molecules of CBD. After lab models of human blood-brain barriers proved successful, they decided to try the experiment on mice. In mice who received lipid nanocapsules with CBD, there was a 2.5 times higher success rate in the drug reaching their brains than in mice that received nanocapsule injections without CBD.
Though the researchers are not completely sure how CBD allows for easier bypass of the blood-brain barrier, they theorize that the phenomenon is related to the human body's endocannabinoid system, in which a network of neurotransmitters and receptors is linked to countless biological processes such as mood, memory, and appetite.Because the body is used to allowing naturally produced endocannabinoids past the barrier, they hypothesize, it seems reasonable that cannabinoids like CBD would be allowed through, even if they bring other molecules along.