The desire for legalized marijuana is a growing trend. Advocates for cannabis use including medical and recreational marijuana, make strong arguments. Whether you use marijuana or not, you may be wondering about the side effects and risks.
What does science say about marijuana and memory loss? Does cannabis use really make you forgetful or is that an overused stereotype in comedy films and punch lines?
The way memory works is a lot more complex than recalling what you had for lunch yesterday.
Memory can store and recall information by it also drives behavior based on past experiences. Your neurological functions are complicated.
What is the Difference Between Short-Term and Long-Term Memory?
Short-term memory, or sensory memory, are temporary memories that process sensory experiences that you are processing and focusing on at the moment. Unnecessary information is processed out and important information is stored for your brain to recall at a later time.
Long-term memory, on the other hand, is permanent. The important information that was stored from your short term memory is shifted to your long-term memory.
How Does Cannabis Impact Memory?
While there is some evidence that shows cannabis use can affect short-term memory, studies have shown that higher doses of cannabis can adversely affect long-term memory as well. However, the science behind these results are more complicated than they seem.
Once the chemicals in marijuana hit your brain, the endocannabinoid system gets activated. This system is involved with the areas of you your brain that affect memory.
THC and Memory Loss
THC, is the ingredient in marijuana that causes euphoria, it also makes it difficult for someone under to influence to form new memories and to recall events while high.
In some instances though, memory impairment can be helpful to patients with PTSD. Cannabis has been known to extinguish memories of a different traumatic events such as military combat, sexual assault, and abuse.
However, regular cannabis use can result in the development of a tolerance to these side effects. While a 2016 study by the JAMA Internal Medicine journal reported that regular cannabis users who have used it daily for 5 years or more struggle with verbal memory recall, there was no other evidence to support any other cognitive function impairment. The study was done with a small sample size of only 8 percent of 3,300 participants who were categorized as habitual cannabis users.
CBD is a natural ingredient in cannabis, a plant with a rich history as a medicine going back thousands of years. CBD has been found to have many therapeutic properties and researchers continue to study and test its effectiveness in the treatment of many conditions, neuro-inflammatory disease, such as cerebral malaria and meningitis, anxiety disorders, and serious illnesses and autoimmune disorders.
So far we know that cannabidiol is a safe, non-addictive substance, known as a phytocannabinoids. Cannabinoids are unique compounds found in cannabis that give the plant its medicinal and therapeutic properties.
CBD, is the second most prevalent ingredient in cannabis. CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana. By itself, CBD is not responsible for causing you to feel high during cannabis use. However, cannabidiol can help offset the cognitive function impairment caused by THC.
CBD and Neurological Disorders
Research shows that cannabidiol can actually aid in the treatment of certain neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. For those suffering from impaired cognitive functions due to vascular dementia or a stroke, the effects of CBD has been shown to offset some cases of mild cognitive impairment.
Furthermore, for some patients, CBD has been used for therapy purposes to successfully treat schizophrenia in terms of improving overall cognitive function. Although more research is needed to determine the extent of the effects of cannabidiol on patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, there is evidence that shows improvement of some memory deficiencies.
CBD also works as a shield to protect the brain against brain damage by reducing the brain cell death from alcohol abuse and binge drinking by 60 percent. The effects of cannabidiol can also repair cell damage after a traumatic brain injury.
When cannabis contains rich amounts of THC and CBD, it has been known to treat attention hyperactivity deficit disorder (ADHD). ADHD can lead to memory deficiencies in patients with low levels of dopamine, which controls memory. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC can increase the levels of dopamine and ultimately improving memory development.
CBD can also mitigate the effects on cognitive function caused by THC and limit the long-term effects of memory loss.
Cannabidiol is not a major contributor to cognitive impairment and is not responsible for any negative effects on memory. In fact, the compound’s overall benefits to the neurological system are quite notable. Research has indicated that CBD has exhibited positive results in cellular structure and remodeling in response to memory loss such as regulating cell death, neuroinflammation, and cerebrovascular breakdown.