A new study from University College London found that cannabidiol (CBD), one of the major compounds found in cannabis, increases blood flow to a key brain region responsible for emotions and memory. The discovery may shed light on how CBD produces some of its observed effects, including reducing anxiety and easing dementia symptoms. The findings build upon a growing body of research into CBD.
Cannabidiol, more commonly called CBD, has grown in popularity as a medicinal substance, with users claiming a variety of benefits ranging from better sleep to pain relief and more. Select past research has linked the compound with improvements in psychiatric issues, such as easing PTSD, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms in sufferers.
As well, there have been indications that CBD may help reduce dementia symptoms in people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, though more work is necessary to determine how extensive this benefit may be. The new study from University College London has potentially found the mechanism to explain this impact on the brain.
The study, which was small with only 15 ‘young adult’ volunteers who had zero or very little history of using cannabis products, used brain scans to monitor the blood flow in brain regions linked to memory. Some of the participants were given 600mg of CBD orally, while the others were given a placebo.
The MRIs performed before and after taking the compound revealed that compared to the placebo group, participants given CBD experienced ‘significant’ increases in blood flow in the hippocampus, but didn’t experience a decrease of blood flow in other parts of that same brain region.
As well, the CBD triggered similarly significant blood flow increases in the orbitofrontal cortex in the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for things like making decisions and planning. Additional research is necessary to determine whether the findings can be replicated. As well, it will be necessary to research whether repeated doses of CBD will still give the same effect.