New Study Discovers That Inhaled Cannabis Improves Memory
If anyone tells you that cannabis makes you dumb, show them this study (there’s many more like it, too!).
Researchers from the University of Florida set out on an experiment to assess how inhaled cannabis affects working memory. They expected the subjects to show signs of impairment, but surprisingly, they found the opposite.
The study, published in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, involved 32 trained rats, 15 of which were male and 16 were female. The mice were made to undergo a food-motivated, delayed response task, which they had to do before and after being exposed to inhaled cannabis. A control group was given a placebo. The animals’ performance was then analyzed through a battery of tests to help the researchers understand how cannabis, if at all, affected their ability to finish the task.
The researchers found that in male rats, exposure to inhaled cannabis had no effect on their performance. Interestingly, the female rats displayed more accurate working memory after being exposed to inhaled cannabis.
“Cannabis smoke improved working memory accuracy,” write the study’s authors. However, “placebo smoke did not affect working memory accuracy” among both male and female mice. The absence of any impact observed in the placebo group suggested to the researchers that cannabis does indeed enhance cognitive performance, as observed in the female rats. “Exposure to placebo smoke had no effect on performance, suggesting that the cannabinoid content of cannabis smoke was critical for its effects on working memory,” write the researchers.
The researchers also disclosed that baseline performances before the subjects were exposed to cannabis and placebo were less among female rats as opposed to males. They say that this “raises the possibility that the enhancing effects in females were due to their relatively worse baseline performance rather than to sex differences in the effects of cannabis per se.”
How Cannabis Works In The Brain To Help With Memory
Memory loss, also known as cognitive decline, stems from several factors including degenerative disease, as well as emotional or physical trauma. It can occur as a result of a hit by a blunt object, hitting one’s head far too many times during football, or traumatic events. Age can cause neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. All of these things can contribute to a failing memory.
The hippocampus area of the brain, which makes up part of the limbic system, is responsible for regulating memory. Studies show that CBD helps with memory and mood disorders because it can repair cells located within the hippocampus. When animal subjects were administered with CBD, scientists found that cells proliferated significantly in the hippocampus because the CB1 cannabinoid receptors were activated. In doing so, it also helped counter anxiety.
CB1 cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the body, although most of them are concentrated within the brain. It serves an important purpose in regulating neurological functions since they bind with anandamide, another endocannabinoid. Researchers from the previous study mentioned found that levels of anandamide in the hippocampus were significantly higher, that it led them to believe that anandamide plays an important role in neurogenesis. Consuming CBD has been shown to increase anandamide levels, suggesting that it may indeed be a viable alternative treatment for fighting memory loss.
These findings build on other studies that verify cannabis’ ability to help with memory.
Other studies point to cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, and its neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties that help protect your brain cells. An Australian study that analyzed CBD’s ability to treat schizophrenia found that CBD can indeed protect the neural pathways and brain cells from damage. The researchers discovered that CBD is effective in relieving the symptoms of memory problems that arise from various causes.
We have pretty good evidence on our hands that cannabis and CBD can both help with addressing the processes responsible for causing memory loss, age-related cognitive decline, and especially Alzheimer’s and dementia. If you’re starting to suffer from memory loss, it’s highly recommended to speak with your doctor to find the best way to begin medicating with cannabis-based products for the best results. Heavy use of THC-rich cannabis may not be the most suitable way to start, especially among the aging population. Your doctor may be able to help you find a more suitable way to medicate.