CBD and Memory: Does CBD Affect Memory?

Dealing with memory problems can be a stressful situation for anyone, whether the loss is the natural result of aging, because of another condition, or due to an injury. Most people suffering from memory issues are constantly searching for a way to reverse the effects or at least minimize them. Recently, CBD has gained attention for its potential to assist with memory problems.

So far, there is no proven evidence that it can assist with this goal, but anecdotal evidence and early research shows promise. Those concerned about memory will want to learn more about this natural compound and how it can help.

Understanding Loss of Memory

Many people share the fear of gradually experiencing a decline in sensation and memory, along with the delay in locomotion that occurs after age 50. This is called cognitive impairment. The existence of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s further increased concerns about the potential loss of memory. Unfortunately, memory issues are somewhat a natural part of the aging process, although not everyone experiences it, and there are various methods believed to delay its effects. The methods of reversing or minimizing memory issues, however, work to varying degrees and frequently come with side effects.

Understanding CBD

Before anyone can begin to understand how it can help with memory issues, there should first be a deeper understanding of what CBD is. This is the common abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the many naturally occurring compounds in the cannabis plant. It is also the plant’s second most prevalent active ingredient.

From Marijuana or Hemp

CBD can come from either marijuana or hemp, its closely related cousin, both of which are Cannabis sativa. Users may find CBD oil derived from either plant. This will not affect its ability to produce results, but it may impact the chemical composition and legality of the oil.

It Will Not Get the User High

Using CBD oil or other CBD products containing this compound will not get a person high, so there are no concerns about it interrupting daily functioning with psychoactive effects of CBD. Additionally, it will not appear on drug tests, assuming the users choose the correct product. That latter point is particularly helpful for those who suffer from memory problems but are subject to regular or occasional drug tests at work or in school. That high comes from tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.

Cannabis and Memory

It used to be that people associate cannabis use with loss of memory or other cognitive function. There were numerous warnings that when people smoke marijuana, they will fry their brain cells and hurt their memory in the process. While it is true that people are unlikely to remember much at the moment if they smoke too much and get incredibly high, there is growing support for the idea that cannabis can promote better memory. Much of this comes down to the presence of CBD.

In fact, some research has shown that the effects of THC may include the short-term loss in memory associated with cannabis, while CBD can improve memory.

How It Helps Memory

Experts believe that the ability of CBD to assist with memory functioning comes from its promotion of healthier brain cells. This comes via the compound’s ability to encourage neuron growth as well as its links to the endocannabinoid system.

There are three main ways in which the compound assists with memory functionality. One of these is to reduce the buildup of oxygen as oxygenation is associated with memory issues. Additionally, it can reduce inflammation, which also causes loss of memory. Finally, the natural compound can serve as a brain neuroprotectant and stimulant.

As a bonus, the lack of memory decline can reduce anxiety and stress for the individual in question.

Specific Research Related to Memory 

The biggest benefit of CBD concerning memory is its promotion of neurogenesis. This is the scientific term for the development and growth of neurons. As expected, neuron growth reduces deterioration in function and cognition.

Tim Carl and his colleagues published preclinical studies in Frontiers in Pharmacology in 2011. In these studies, they found that mice injected with induced Alzheimer’s experienced reversal of deficits that were mostly caused by cognition.

Other clinical trials have found that exposure to CBD for a prolonged period of about eight months improves memory deficits related to social recognition.

Additionally, scientists indicate that this cannabis compound could reduce the brain damage that occurred as a result of trauma. Researchers found that the substance decreased injured brain cell counts by over 50 percent while also increasing viable brain cells.

An Australian study involving rats with schizophrenia found that CBD improved recognition and memory.

For Treating Alzheimer’s-related Memory Issues

Experts have already shown that inflammation increases the extent to which Alzheimer’s disease has a negative impact on people’s lives. The immune cells in the brain fail to clear out blockages that are disorienting, leading to an inflammatory response. Using CBD oil can help reduce this inflammation due to the substance’s anti-inflammatory properties.

Additionally, Alzheimer’s disease is associated with the release of oxygen via a stress-induced and reactive nature. The oxygen is released in the brain when combined with inflammation there. The increase in oxygen release worsens the impact on memory. Additionally, brain deterioration, including memory, will indirectly increase the oxygen content in the brain. Studies show that CBD is an antioxidant, which researchers believe can help reduce the issues from Alzheimer’s due to oxygen stress.

Finally, it is common for those with Alzheimer’s to experience rapid destruction and decline of brain cells. Experts recently discovered that CBD has the potential to stimulate brain tissue. Clinical trials indicated that this substance could reverse and prevent the negative impact of Alzheimer’s on these tissues.

For Treating Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia refers to issues related to memory, judgment, planning, reasoning, and additional thought processes. It specifically refers to those issues due to brain damage that results from decreased blood flow to the brain.

A 2016 study from the US National Institute of Health found that the activation of CB2 cannabinoid receptors can improve blood flow in the brain. This increases brain cell activity, thereby reducing brain cell damage typically associated with vascular dementia.

For Treating Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy body dementia (LBD) occurs when abnormal quantities of alpha-synuclein, a protein, are deposited in the brain. These deposits are known as Lewy bodies, and they affect various brain chemicals. Those brain chemical changes then cause issues affecting mood, thinking, behavior, movement, and sleeping.

One stand-out feature of CBD is that it does not block the functioning of acetylcholine, which is the main chemical attacked by LBD. This is important since most drugs designed to manage behavior, anxiety, and pain block this. About LBD, research indicates that this natural healing compound can assist by serving as an anti-inflammatory agent, maintaining circadian sleep rhythms, and reducing motor symptoms such as bradykinesia, rigidity, and tremors.

For Treating Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s refers to the progressive and chronic disease affecting the nervous system, and it mainly affects those who are middle-aged or elderly. The memory issues due to Parkinson’s are complemented by slow, imprecise movements, muscle rigidity, and tremors. Imbalance in the digestive system may also worsen the symptoms, both in terms of severity and progression.

Research shows that CBD can protect the brain and this, combined with its anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties, can help manage Parkinson’s.

For Treating Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease or Huntington’s chorea is inherited and leads to brain cell death. The earliest symptoms include mental health and mood declines. Unsteady gaits and lack of coordination typically follow.

2016 research at the University of Madrid showed that CBD could help with this disease linked to memory problems thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

For Treating Pick’s Disease

Pick’s Disease or frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a disorder group that occurs from the progressive loss of nerve cells in the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain. It leads to symptoms that include psychosis and depression, in addition to dementia-related memory problems.

While antipsychotic drugs are an option, they increase the risk of death and tend to include a long list of side effects. In contrast, CBD can reduce anxiety, reduce the motor symptoms, maintain the circadian sleep rhythms, and serve as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Salk Institute in 2017

In one of the recent studies, researchers from the Salk Institute in California in 2017 found support that certain cannabinoids, including CBD, could potentially assist with the removal of dementia from a person’s brain cells.

CB2 Receptor Interactions

This natural compound from cannabis binds with the brain’s CB2 receptors, producing anti-inflammatory effects. These effects impact the brain’s immune cells and help reduce damage from inflammation in the brain.

Additionally, the interactions with CB2 receptors help reduce the damage done due to oxidation. This is crucial as that damage is responsible for brain damage, including in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Green’s Review

Katrina Green at Australia’s University of Wollongong looked at over 20 peer-reviewed journals on the matter. She found studies indicating that the use of CBD can greatly improve cognition related to deficits due to meningitis, sepsis, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. Research even shows that CBD can assist with deficits from recreational marijuana use. The caveat here is that the research Green reviewed all looks at the compound’s impact on brains in a diseased state. It would be interesting to see the results in brains that are healthy.

Fighting Drugs and Related Memory Problems

Another interesting set of research came from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina’s Project CBD. This study looked into how the compound can fight drug addiction and related conditions and assist with the recovery process, partly thanks to the ability to enhance memory.

This research and other studies show that drug addiction turns into a habit due to the associations of the drug with a positive experience. Users opt to use the drug again to get the same feeling, which is reconsolidation. The repeated use of the drug to achieve that feeling turns into a habit, leading to dependence.

A 2017 research published in the Journal of Addiction Biology found that CBD can interfere with the reconsolidation, while also helping to reduce the drug’s cravings. This study looked at mice conditioned to stay in a room that was associated with a morphine reward, compared with a room without any such association. Right after the exposure, some mice in the study received CBD. The results indicated that it interrupted the cue reconsolidation, reducing the future cravings for morphine.

The study continued for two weeks. During that time, the researchers found that the mice treated with the natural cannabis compound had a significantly lower preference for the room with the morphine than their untreated counterparts. Additionally, mice retained the compound’s protective effects of cannabis, even with later doses of morphine.

Overall, this study indicated that CBD could interrupt the memories and recognition associated with drug abuse and dependence. This not only shows promise for treating addiction, but it also shows the ability of the compound to interact with memories. The caveat is that this type of memory-related interaction is not necessarily the type that most people strive for, but it still shows that interactions occur, which is promising.

Research Into Its General Health Benefits  

Unfortunately, because it is part of cannabis, which sits in a legal gray area, there is minimal research into CBD so far. The FDA did relax the regulatory requirements in December 2015, allowing researchers to conduct trials on the substance. Even so, most research is still in its early stages, and the majority focuses on the entire plant instead of CBD in particular.

Epidiolex and Seizures

To show the extent of strides in CBD research, consider the FDA approval of Epidiolex, the first cannabis-derived medicine. It treats childhood seizure disorders, including Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, with great results.

Reducing Pain

A study published in the European Journal of Pain used animals to show the potential of applying CBD topically to reduce inflammation and pain from arthritis. A different study showed its ability to inhibit neuropathic and inflammatory pain, which are among the most challenging chronic pain varieties to treat.

Treating Insomnia

Some studies suggest that this natural substance can assist with insomnia. It can help patients fall asleep and remain asleep, providing a peaceful night’s rest.

Treating Anxiety

There is also a reasonable amount of research indicating that CBD can help treat anxiety, especially social anxiety and in public speaking situations.

It Is Safe

 Individuals should not have any serious health concerns about using CBD oil for their memory. The World Health Organization indicates that using a pure product is not associated with any public health problems. Additionally, it shows no signs of a potential for dependence or abuse.

Minimal Side Effects

Many people who use CBD experience no side effects, and nearly everyone experiences minimal effects. The most common negative effects include irritability, fatigue, and nausea. Diarrhea and bloating may also occur. In just 3 percent of use cases, patients may have liver problems that require them to stop taking the natural remedy.

It is sometimes possible for those with dementia to experience increases in tremors when they take high doses. This is not typically an issue at low or medium doses and comes with improvements in memory.

Keep in mind that taking CBD will not get the person high, and it will also not reduce alertness or awareness. There are some misconceptions about it being a sedative, but this is not the case. Instead, those who experience this type of reaction are typically using the entire plant and opting for strains with terpenes that are sedative.

Potential Drug Interactions

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that as a natural compound, it may interact with other medications that a person takes. If someone takes Coumadin, a blood thinner, it may increase the levels of this drug in the blood.

Additionally, if a person takes a medication that has a contraindication for grapefruit due to the fruit’s ability to raise the level of medicine in the blood, CBD can produce the same result.

Safety Depends on Smart Purchases

The key to CBD safety is choosing the right product to buy. There is no regulation on the purity or safety of CBD from the Food and Drug Administration since the agency treats it like a supplement. As such, there is no guarantee that the product an individual buys will contain the ingredients or doses that it claims.

Always Consult a Doctor

Individuals should treat CBD like any other supplement or medication that they would take and always consult with a doctor before they begin taking it. They should be aware of any interactions with other medical conditions the patient has or medications that they take.

Legal Status

Patients should not have any problems finding CBD, no matter where in the United States they live. As of the 2018 Farm Bill, the hemp plant is legal at the federal level, including CBD oil. To qualify as hemp, it must have less than 0.3 percent THC.

If the chosen tincture comes from the marijuana plant, then its legality depends on the state. It will be legal in areas with legal medical or recreational marijuana but will require the appropriate ID if only medical marijuana is legal.

How Much to Take

If an individual chooses to take CBD for memory, they will have to do some trial and error to discover the ideal dose for their particular needs. The lack of federal regulation and research means that experts have still not determined the ideal dose of the substance for memory, or for any other use.

The ideal dosage will depend on many factors, including age, body chemistry, and the severity of memory issues.

Forms of CBD Oil

 There are several main methods of ingesting CBD, including via an oil or tincture. Individuals can take these orally, typically by placing a few drops underneath the tongue. Alternatively, they can mix them into food or drink. There is also the option of an oil designed for vaping.

Those who prefer pre-dosed products can also opt for softgels, capsules, or gummies. These forms offer the convenience of portability. They will, however, contain additional ingredients compared with oils since they need to get their shape.

There are also topical products infused with CBD. Those are best suited to treat inflammation and pain, however, not memory. Essentially, topical products are best at targeting specific areas of the body, but they want full-body benefits for memory.

Isolates Vs. Full Spectrum

Individuals will notice that their chosen oils may be either isolates or full-spectrum products. Isolates only have CBD and a carrier oil. Full-spectrum products have other elements of the plant, as well, including terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids. They frequently include THC, so individuals should take care if they need to pass drug tests.

Choosing a Safe, Quality Product

As mentioned, there is no official regulation for CBD products. As such, consumers are left to complete their own research. To remain competitive and show their value and quality, the best manufacturers have certificates of analysis from independent lab testing. These certificates should confirm the concentrations of active ingredients and confirm that no harmful ingredients are present.

To stay safe, never buy a product without viewing its certificate of analysis. Most companies have them readily available on their website, but shoppers may need to contact them for the information.

Shoppers should also pay attention to the source of the hemp and how it is grown. Opt for hemp grown organically without chemicals as those may make their way into the final product.

The Bottom Line

For those suffering from memory loss, CBD oil offers an all-natural alternative to traditional medications or increasing concerns about impaired functioning. Research into this all-natural compound from the cannabis is still in the early stages. Even so, experts know it has antioxidant, anti-inflammation, and analgesic properties, with the first two being crucial for memory preservation. Before taking CBD, patients should consult with their doctor to confirm that it will not negatively interact with any of their current medications. Other than potential drug interactions, it is perfectly safe to use this substance, and WHO indicates there is no risk of addiction.




Clarence Swader

Clarence is a medical marijuana patient, writer, and hiking enthusiast who spends most of his time outdoors. He loves nature and is continuously trying to discover and write about its benefits for general health.
Clarence Swader

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