The results may seem paradoxical when looking at all the current research on cannabis and brain health through a wide lens. For example, some studies suggest that cannabis can disrupt short-term memory, while others think that cannabis improves short-term memory. But how is it possible?
There are a few reasons why these different cannabis studies may have these disparate results. For example, there is the fact that marijuana is an extraordinarily complex plant and the fact that similar studies may have very different sample populations or methodologies. There is also the fact that marijuana can have a biphasic effect, which essentially means that low doses and high doses of cannabinoids can have opposite effects. Therefore, CBD product manufacturers mention the suggested does on hemp boxes.
When you understand how cannabis works and how each cannabis study was conducted, you can begin to see a clearer picture of what cannabis research shows. So, what does it show about how marijuana use affects the brain? Find out below as we review everything we currently know about the effects of cannabis on health and the brain.
Introduction to the endocannabinoid system and the human brain
Before we take a look at specific studies on marijuana use and brain health, we’ll introduce what we know about how cannabis interacts with the human brain in general. Marijuana interacts with the human body and brain through the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). So, to understand how marijuana works, you need to understand the ECS.
The ECS is a natural system in the body that regulates many physical and cognitive processes, including pain response, certain immune functions, appetite, mood, and memory. The ECS is constantly working to maintain homeostasis within the body to keep bodily functions stable and healthy. It makes it possible by producing and breaking down endocannabinoids, which are fat-based neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters send messages to endocannabinoid receptors of the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.
How does marijuana interact with ECS?
Marijuana interacts with the ECS through phytocannabinoids, which are plant-based cannabinoids. These are similar to the body’s natural endocannabinoids. In the case of never hearing the terms phytocannabinoid and cannabinoid, there are the two most prevalent phytocannabinoids in the cannabis plant. These are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Plant-based cannabinoids like THC and CBD are similar to endocannabinoids that can interact with cannabinoid receptors on the ECS. However, THC and CBD are not the same as the body’s endocannabinoids, so they send different messages to the ECS neural receptors, triggering different effects.
Types of ECS Receptors
Bearing all this information in mind, consider that the brain contains billions of nerve cells. Many of which are part of the ECS. There are two main types of ECS receptors: CB1 and CB2 receptors. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors can be found throughout the body, but CB1 receptors are found primarily on brain cells. You will find ECS receptors throughout the brain, including the hippocampus, orbitofrontal cortex, basal ganglia, ventral striatum, amygdala, brainstem, spinal cord, cerebellum, and neocortex.
Because ECS receptors exist in numerous brain regions, cannabis and cannabinoids can interact with cells that control many brain functions. So, what does that mean for your brain health? We will see that next.
Research on cannabis and brain function
While marijuana research is still in its early stages, some studies can help us understand how cannabis use can affect long-term brain health. Some best-studied topics about cannabis and the brain are the effect of cannabis on memory, cognition, mental health, and neurological health.
The stereotype of the forgetful stoner is what comes to mind for many when they think of cannabis and memory. However, marijuana and poor memory do not necessarily go hand in hand. Although the psychoactive effects of THC can affect short-term memory. While a person is intoxicated, there is no significant evidence that marijuana hurts long-term memory in adults.
It is true that THC, the cannabinoid in marijuana that causes psychoactive effects, can cause short-term memory impairment during intoxication. Studies have shown that adult cannabis users who are currently under the influence of THC. It have poorer memory recall and more difficulty forming new memories. However, studies also show that these memory problems go away soon after the intoxication wears off. Some studies also suggest that frequent marijuana users may develop tolerance to these short-term memory effects.
The relationship between marijuana and long-term memory
When it comes to long-term memory and marijuana, there isn’t much evidence that THC has a significant effect on long-term memory when used by adults. While looking at the information about marijuana and memory that is publish by public health organizations, you can find some negative effects of marijuana on memory. Marijuana use does not appear to have a significant long-term impact on memory in fully developed adults, studies suggest heavy marijuana use may hurt people who are still developing brains, such as children, adolescents, and young adults. Ingredients details also mentioned on marijuana packaging boxes to guide the people about the product.
There is mix evidence suggesting that marijuana use. While the brain is still developing, may hurt the development of brain structure. Brain function in general. Some studies show that chronic, heavy use of marijuana in developing brains. Increases the risk of certain adverse health effects. Including problems with memory, decision-making, and attention, and an increased risk of developing a use disorder of cannabis.