CBD is quickly becoming a vital part of treatment for several conditions, with a sharp rise both in scientific interest and consumption by individuals. Unfortunately, the grey area surrounding its legal status has constrained large-scale clinical research from occurring, which is definitely needed in order to assert with confidence the efficacy of CBD for treating and even preventing diseases.

A recent study conducted by the World Health Organisation found that CBD has almost zero health risks[1]. There is no abuse potential or negative physiological responses with CBD, and it has no negative effects on our memory. That’s good news, considering that its sister THC has a reputation for spoiling frequent users’ short-term memory and cognitive functions. With its promising career in future medicine, one may wonder if CBD could perhaps exert positive effects on our memory. This is not an easy question.

CBD FOR MITIGATING TRAUMA, ADDICTION, COGNITIVE DECLINE

A study on cannabis’ effects on memory confirmed that long-term THC use could actually impact memories, but the consumption of higher levels of CBD may prevent memory impairment[2] and protect some aspects of memory function. On the other hand, a study indicates that even at a ratio of 2:1 CBD:THC, CBD does not attenuate the psychotic and memory-impairing effects[3] of THC in heavy cannabis users.

Recent research shows evidence that CBD exerts some kind of direct action on mammals’ ability to remember and elaborate. A study on rats by the Society for the Study of Addiction found that CBD may attenuate the rewarding effects of addictive drugs in animal models by weakening contextual memories and consequently reducing the craving[4] for psychoactive drugs.

With humans, it’s a bit more complicated. A study titled “The effects of cannabidiol on impulsivity and memory during abstinence in cigarette dependent smokers” found that CBD doesn’t seem to be able to reverse the cognitive impairments associated with nicotine abstinence[5] in heavy cigarette smokers. A few studies, on the other hand, found that CBD can somehow help in diminishing the addiction habits of opioids, cocaine, and other stimulants, tobacco, and even THC-rich cannabis. Addiction is something intrinsically related to memories; namely pleasant memories.

But CBD is able to affect unpleasant memories as well. Several clinical and preclinical reports have widely confirmed that CBD can reduce anxiety[6] and symptoms associated with emotional stress and memory disorders[7], such as PTSD, also facilitating the removal of traumatic or fearful memories.

Now what about cognitive decline, which is basically memory loss? This is one of the major mental threats for people getting older. Well, there is a small but growing amount of scientific evidence proving that CBD can help the brain and improve memory. CBD was found to promote neurogenesis, thus reducing the damage to cognitive functions caused by age, disease, and trauma. This effect might help people who suffer from degenerative memory disorders; thus, the potential therapeutic properties of CBD for Alzheimer's disease[8] are currently under intense analysis.

Types of Memory

DOES CBD ENHANCE MEMORY?

Current research has made it clear that investigating the effects of CBD on memory is no easy task. And once again, we are in an early stage of both research and personal experimentation. While some studies and many users have suggested that CBD may even improve overall cognition, there is very little evidence for CBD as a memory-enhancer in a healthy brain (assuming a “healthy brain” actually does exist).

That notwithstanding, it is still important that we begin to recognise that cannabis is not simply the memory-impairing drug it’s been labelled as in the past. Conversely, the plant contains compounds that display significant medical potential for brain-related conditions.

Since THC and CBD are being increasingly paired together in different formulations, a greater understanding of their interactions will eventually come to light. At present, it is unclear whether at specific concentrations CBD might counteract the effects of THC on memory and cognition.

Unfortunately, the acute impairments induced by THC on verbal and working memory are proven (or fortunately, because these “impairments” are actually a secondary ingredient in the mix that makes up the recreational user’s desired effect), yet it is unclear whether the impairment persists in the long-term. Regular and heavy use of THC can possibly affect memory somehow, but recent advanced neuroimaging techniques have started to show that heavy cannabis use actually “reconfigures” neural connections, instead of just disrupting them. Is this good? Is it an effect of CBD, or the combination of diverse cannabinoids? One day, science will tell.

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