Meditation has been used for thousands of years for a multitude of reasons. And with scientific exploration of the mind, we can now see what meditation does and how it affects our brain chemically and structurally. We can use neuro-imaging, electro-encephalograms and neuro-chemistry to see how some connections are deactivated while others are built or rebuilt. The mind is very powerful and meditation may be the key to repairing it causing a reduction of anxiety, depression and addiction. Let’s look at some of the ways in which meditation can do this.
Meditation has been shown to release a major neuro-chemical in the brain called serotonin (5-HT). Serotonin is responsible for happiness and over all good well-being. People suffering from depression have decreased levels of serotonin usually caused by stress and aging. Increased levels of serotonin help in the development of new brain cells and new connections responsible for feeling happy.
Another neuro-chemical that is enhanced by meditation is GABA. GABA is an inhibitory neuro-chemical responsible for helping us become calm or reach a state of calmness. Meditation helps to release GABA helping to alleviate anxiety, racing thoughts and sleep issues.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has now been shown to affect the same neuro-chemical pathways as meditation. CBD acts directly on the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. The effect is a state of calmness, and essentially acts as an antidepressant. CBD also has an effect on the GABA-A receptor which helps the GABA molecule develop a stronger bond to the receptor. The effect of this is a heightened state of relaxation and reduction of anxiety.
Micro-dosing CBD prior to meditation can possibly help attain a state of calmness more easily and maintain the anxiolytic effects longer by exerting its effects on these two receptors in our brain. By helping to quiet the mind even before the actual practice of meditation, CBD may help an individual attain a deeper state of meditation and help focus on the actual practice.
There have been several studies extolling the benefits of yoga for dealing with and treating stress and anxiety. Recent studies show that yoga alone can increase GABA by almost 30%. There are current studies underway looking into the effects of adding microdoses of CBD prior to an hour of yoga practice to measure CBD levels and its associated effects.
New studies showing effects of yoga on the brain and its associated neuroplasticity have shown that yoga helps to stimulate the endocannabinoid system which stimulates a cluster of cells mainly in the brain but also throughout the body and is responsible for the central rewards network of the neural system, AKA the “runner’s high”, or someone saying they feel “yoga stoned”. Stimulation of the endocannabinoid system is postulated to play a role in the euphoric state after practicing yoga. Studies are now underway to determine if supplementing the body with CBD micro-doses prior to yoga can help to elicit similar results.
Neuroplasticity is defined as “the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.” It is the brain’s version of muscle memory, so that neurons that fire together wire together. CBD, in combination with a regular yoga practice and its effects on neuroplasticity and neural networks are proving to be a positive predictor of successful management of stress and anxiety.
- CB1 receptor deficiency decreases wheel-running activity: consequences on emotional behaviours and hippocampal neurogenesis.
- Voluntary exercise and sucrose consumption enhance cannabinoid CB1 receptor sensitivity in the striatum.
- Positive therapeutic and neurotropic effects of yoga in depression: A comparative study
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