What are the CBD Effects on Memory?
Posted on August 21st, 2021
Are you curious about CBD effects on memory? Well, people have linked cannabis use to both short and long-term memory loss. Marijuana users may experience periodic memory loss, both while under the influence and well after using. In fact, regular marijuana use may result in difficulty recalling long-term memories.
However, recent research has shown that the two major cannabis cannabinoids affect memory in different ways. THC (tetrahydrocannbinol) seems to negatively impact memory, while CBD or cannabidiol may positively effect cognitive function and memory.
What Is THC?
THC is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It interacts primarily with the CB-1 receptors that form part of your endocannabinoid system (ECS). These receptors regulate your central nervous system functions (CNS), involving your brain and spinal cord. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis; it’s responsible for feelings of euphoria commonly referred to as getting “high”.
How Does THC Affect Memory?
THC impairs memory because it effects your brain’s hippocampus. (It’s responsible for creating and storing new memories.) Research shows that the changes THC makes to your hippocampus results in neuron loss in this area of the brain. It therefore impacts your memory much like aging does.
THC exposure from infancy through adolescence negatively impacts brain development, especially in your hippocampus. These development issues may result in long-term difficulty with forming new memories, learning and recall.
What IS CBD?
CBD interacts primarily with the CB-2 receptors in the ECS. They regulate your peripheral nervous system (PNS), including the immune system. CBD appears to offer several potential health benefits. (And many of them are still undergoing research.) But CBD has no psychoactive properties. So you won’t need to worry about this type of cannabis use impacting cognition.
What are the CBD Effects on Memory?
Research suggests that CBD has no adverse effects on memory. In fact, CBD has almost no effect on memory in a healthy brain. On the other hand, it may play a role in reducing age related memory loss. That includes loss from dementia or diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
In other words, taking CBD to improve memory in a healthy brain won’t really work. But it may help reduce and perhaps even repair your impaired memory.
Remember, memory is divided into two categories: long and short-term. Long-term memory stores prior events for an indefinite period of time. Short-term memory (also called working or episodic memory) temporarily stores memories that are easily accessible.
CBD Effects On Short-Term Memory
CBD and THC have opposite effects on short-term memory. In fact, studies shown that taking CBD with THC can counteract the latter’s negative effects on short-term or episodic memory. Why is that the case? Well, CBD acts as a Delta 9 THC inhibitor. So it may prevent THC’s negative effects on cognition and memory.
But that’s not all. In a Sept. 2020 experiment, candidates taking CBD while using THC improved recall and memory accuracy. And the positive results seemed to last after the THC effects wore off. Still, results varied based on THC and CBD type and dosage. So this suggest dosage may play an important role in CBD effects for improving short-term memory.
Also, this study implies CBD may protect your hippocampus from THC-based changes. In turn, this could improve your ability to store and access short-term memories. So, while we need further research to confirm CBD’s effects on other forms of short-term memory loss, it may one day help treat cognitive degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
CBD Effects On Long-Term Memory
CBD effects research on long-term memory mainly relate to cognitive degenerative disorders such as dementia. And that’s because most studies suggest that CBD won’t effect long-term memory in a healthy brain.
Now, dementia is an umbrella term that describes a group of diseases or medical conditions that affect the brain because of aging.
Recently, research uncovered several different ways that CBD may improve long-term memory.
CBD and Long Term Memory in Patients with Dementia
– CBD acts as an antioxidant. This eliminates free radicals while reducing oxidation in your brain and body. One of the major issues with Alzheimer’s Disease is that oxygen flow to your brain gets affected by a build-up of plaque and dead cells. But CBD’s antioxidant properties could remove these blockages, allowing better oxygen flow and preventing brain cell or neuron loss. This process may also be effective with other forms of dementia. And CBD may therefore prevent brain cell death.
– CBD acts as an anti-inflammatory, possibly reduces swelling or inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Brain tissue inflammation in Alzheimer’s is a result of an immune response to plaque and dead cell build-up. CBD may inhibit this immune response and reduce inflammation. Combined with its potential to remove blockages, this may result in better brain function,.
– CBD may have regenerative properties, helping promote new brain cell growth and healthy development. Removing brain blockages improves your ability to form or regenerate new neurons or brain cells. Studies suggest that CBD may therefore be able to prevent or even reverse cognitive damage linked to degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
– CBD seems to increase blood flow to your brain. That’s important, since patients with vascular dementia have insufficient blood flow. In this way, increased blood flow may result in improved overall cognition and memory.
– CBD may protect your brain from nerve cell loss in your frontal and temporal lobes. This could be important for people living with Frontotemporal Dementia (Pick’s Disease). The cannabinoid may also alleviate depression and anxiety linked to this type of dementia.
– CBD may increase your dopamine receptor’s activity, reduce Parkinson’s Disease effects. Parkinson’s presents with symptoms such as muscle rigidity and tremors because of low dopamine levels in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s important for forming declarative memories. CBD’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties may also help reduce Parkinson’s Disease progression.
Although there is scientific evidence suggesting that CBD can improve memory for people with dementia, we need more research to identify the exact processes, dosage and other factors.
Again, you should remember that CBD is unlikely boost your short or long-term memory if your brain is healthy. But research shows that CBD may help protect against, delay and/or prevent brain cell loss in brains plagued by dementia. It may also help regenerate brain cells. In turn, this could slow the progression of degenerative cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.