Hemp Effects on Memory
Posted on November 30th, 2020
For a long time, people have associated the use of cannabis with memory loss and forgetfulness. This was primarily due to the lack of enough scientific research into cannabis and its effect on human health. Scientists now believe that the specific risks and benefits of cannabis on memory are dependent on the type of cannabis and the compounds it contains. Two of the main chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Researchers found them to have completely different effects on the human brain and memory. These compounds are present in varying amounts in the different varieties of the cannabis plant, i.e., Hemp and Marijuana.
THC, the main active ingredient of marijuana, is responsible for producing the euphoric effects of cannabis. It has also been associated with short-term memory problems amongst users. On the other hand, CBD seems to actually counteract memory loss due to its nature as a neuroprotective agent. CBD stimulates neurogenesis among adults in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory formation. CBD appears capable of improving memory function by treating cognitive impairments.
It might also help reverse memory problems by minimizing brain damage caused by disease or traumatic brain injury. CBD also appears to have a potentially beneficial effect on the working memory of people suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. It also has a positive effect on neurodegenerative diseases that largely affect memory, such as Alzheimer’s.
Considering all these potential hemp effects on memory, it is clear to see why some people are turning to hemp-based CBD products to improve their memory.
What Are the Hemp Effects on Memory?
In order to better understand the beneficial effects of cannabis on memory, it is vital to first understand the different varieties of cannabis and their chemical constitutions. As mentioned earlier, the specific risks or benefits of cannabis on memory are dependent on the variety of the plant.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant and is scientifically known as Cannabis Sativa L. Even though Hemp and Marijuana belong to the same species, they have different chemical compositions and characteristics. The hemp plant contains extremely low levels of THC and high levels of CBD.
In the United States, Hemp legally refers to the Cannabis Sativa L plants containing 0.3% THC content or less. That means that any variety containing more than 0.3% THC content classifies as marijuana. Under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA), marijuana is still mostly illegal federally with some exceptions.
Several studies have shown that consuming cannabis products with high THC content and low CBD content could have a detrimental effect on short-term memory. That is particularly so among adolescents. On the other hand, consuming cannabis products with high CBD content and low or negligible THC content doesn’t appear to produce any adverse effects on memory. In fact, it could be highly beneficial in improving health.
THC’s Effect on Memory
Before discussing the hemp effects on memory, it is worth taking a look at what memory actually is and how Marijuana and THC affect memory.
What is Memory?
Memory refers to the processes involved in acquiring, storing, retaining, and retrieving information. Memory actually divides into two categories; short-term memory and long-term memory. Short-term memory refers to where immediate events are stored temporarily. Meanwhile long-term memory refers to where information is stored indefinitely.
With this in mind, memory loss refers to the mechanisms responsible for the loss of the ability to store and remember information correctly.
How Does THC Affect Memory?
Most research points out that THC does affect short-term memory processing but only temporarily. This compound appears to interrupt neural signaling when binding to receptors responsible for memory in the brain. When short-term memory processing is interrupted, it can impede learning and cause loss of interest and concentration problems. In short, the binding effect of THC on specific receptors in the brain produces a negative effect on memory function.
As you can see, when it comes to memory, THC is the active compound that gives cannabis an unfair bad rep. That is why it is crucial for people to learn more about this topic.
Are there Benefits of CBD on Memory?
The research on hemp and CBD has been booming since the passage of the 2018 farm bill. So far, said research points to some notable benefits. Here are some:
Could CBD Enhance Cognition
Cognition is the process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thoughts and everyday experiences. Thus, our senses are what makes this process possible in the first place. With this in mind, memory function is a crucial cognitive process as it plays a significant role in helping us achieve our daily tasks. Memory enables you to remember your personal information and shared knowledge acquired from either some minutes or decades ago.
Our personalities are typically a product of both our life experiences and a repository of common knowledge. Life experiences fall under episodic memories, while general facts and knowledge fall under semantic memory.
Our ability to perform simple to complex tasks is dependent on our cognitive skills, which include memory function.
All cognitive functions are dependent on specific neuronal networks. For example, memory function depends on particular parts of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. However, several factors can impact these neural networks leading to loss of memory function. These factors can include neurodegeneration caused by Alzheimer’s, blunt trauma to the head, and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.
However, several studies have shown that CBD might improve cognitive abilities such as memory. That’s because, as a neuroprotectant, it may help promote the regeneration of neurons, serve as an antioxidant, and reduce inflammation.
Exploring if CBD Helps in Preventing Brain Damage
Brain damage is often the leading cause of memory loss. It can happen due to injury, disease, or trauma. Research has revealed that after a brain injury, the body tends to release endocannabinoids (the body’s own cannabinoids) as a means to protect and repair the brain.
When CBD reaches your system, it may produce protective effects. That means that CBD may effectively boost the brain’s natural protective functions. Thus, minimizing the chances of brain damage.
Additional research has also shown that CBD may help people with traumatic brain injuries that cause neuroinflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD may help minimize memory loss associated with injuries that result in inflammation.
Could CBD Alleviate Memory Loss Caused by Lack of Focus
Inability to focus and short attention spans are another major cause of memory loss. CBD might just have the potential to resolve these issues effectively. However, it is important to note that the studies found positive results for memory loss that stems from diagnosed conditions such as ADHD.
Lack of focus is a common symptom of ADHD. CBD may help to improve focus in ADHD patients by reducing anxiety and insomnia. Keep in mind that these two factors usually have a significant impact on the brain’s ability to retain memory. Thus, by eliminating them, CBD may help to promote better memory retention.
However, if you have a healthy brain, there is no substantial evidence proving that taking CBD will help to improve your focus.
CBD Stimulates Adult Neurogenesis: True or False?
Neurons, or simply nerve cells, are responsible for processing and transmitting information in the nervous system. They play a crucial role in the allocation of memories. That means that they determine which neurons and synapses within the neural network will store particular memories. Thus, in case they suffer any kind of damage, this can result in memory loss.
Unfortunately, nerve cells do not regenerate as often or quickly as other cells. As people get older, the nerve cells begin to deteriorate, with new ones rarely forming. That is the reason why older people tend to be more forgetful.
However, according to recent research, the hippocampus part of the brain can induce neurogenesis in adults. Neurogenesis refers to the creation of neurons or nerve cells from nerve stem cells like radial glial cells and neuroepithelial cells. The hippocampus plays a crucial role in encoding and storing memories.
According to research, CBD may help in promoting the process of neurogenesis, which consequently helps in preventing memory loss. CBD might be able to do this through its effect on the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Does CBD Enhance Memory Function in Schizophrenics
Schizophrenia is a severe and long-term psychiatric disorder that alters one’s thoughts, perception, and behavior. It significantly affects an individual’s cognitive abilities. Thought disorders, hallucinations, delusions, problems speaking, and lack of focus are some of its characteristics.
One of the most notable symptoms is impaired working memory. Working memory refers to the brain’s ability to make use of information immediately after learning it. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that consolidates working memory. Research has shown that schizophrenia tends to impair the function of this part.
Studies involving models of schizophrenia showed that CBD enhances cognitive function and reduces memory impairments. The introduction of CBD also induced an improvement in social recognition and interaction.
Hemp Effects on Memory – The Takeaway
Based on the available scientific evidence, it is safe to say that hemp effects on memory present numerous potential benefits in improving memory function and fighting memory loss. From improving cognition, stimulating adult neurogenesis, reducing brain damage, improving working memory, and reversing cognitive impairments caused by schizophrenia. CBD so far shows great promise as a viable way of addressing various memory issues. But more research will be necessary.