CBD has been widely used these days because of its health benefits, some even lauded the substances as the ‘miracle cure’ that all of us are dreaming of. A recent study may add more knowledge to support this claim.
In a research led by researchers from the University College of London (UCL) claimed that CBD may lower brain impairment caused by THC in marijuana. Previous studies theorized that THC is linked to addiction and cannabis-induced psychosis.
“Over the last two decades, rates of addiction and psychosis linked to cannabis have been on the rise, while at the same time stronger strains of cannabis with more THC and less CBD have become increasingly common. We have now found that CBD appears to buffer the user against some of the acute effects of THC on the brain,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Matt Wall (UCL Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit and Invicro).
The study derives data from monitored brain activity using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging)in comparing groups of people using different strains of cannabis. The researchers would then found out how cannabis impact brain function. The strains kept equal levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) but varied the levels of CBD. One used higher levels of CBD while the other used high-strength cannabis commonly known as skunk with very low levels or negligible levels of CBD.
It was found that the low-CBD strain affected the brain’s default mode, particularly on its functional connectivity in the posterior cingulate area and salience networks. The high-CBD strain has minimal disruption in these regions. These results suggest that CBD acts as a ‘buffer’ that counteracts some of the harmful effects of THC.
“As cannabis is becoming legal in more parts of the world, people buying cannabis should be able to make an informed decision about their choice of cannabis strain and be aware of the relative risks,” Dr. Wall said.
If one would use the World Health Organization’s definition of ‘psychoactive’, yes, CBD fits the criteria. However, it is non-intoxicating even in higher concentrations. A 2017 report from the WHO distinguished THC as a substance that ‘can impair people’s cognitive performance and psychomotor abilities.’ On the other hand, studies reported that CBD has no harmful effects even in high doses.
This difference can be explained by how CBD and THC work on our body’s endocannabinoid system. THC activates CB1 receptors in our brain that induces feelings of euphoria, relaxation, anxiety and the impairment of short-term memory. CBD, on the other hand, is a CB1 antagonist, which blocks or modulates THC’s intoxication effects. In other words, CBD decreases the negative side effects of THC such as anxiety and paranoia.
To those who are afraid of getting high using CBD, a study suggested that our brain requires at least ‘1,000 joints’ of a genetically modified CBD-marijuana for a person to get high. And to get high, one only needs a very low dose of THC. There is a downside in this statement as this may also imply that CBD may offer limited clinical benefits. For now, no one knows as most studies in CBD are done in mice and other laboratory animals.
Is THC entirely bad? The answer would be no. In fact, it is used among patients suffering from depression and seizures, under a doctor’s supervision who can prescribe the right dosage for a patient. But those who are experiencing paranoia and psychosis induced by THC, the recent study may give hope to their case. And, who knows in the future, new CBD drugs will be used in decreasing the damages of THC felt by marijuana users. One may also question what reaction will be produced if THC and CBD are combined in one drug. For now, more clinical trials are initiated and needed to come up with better CBD drugs that hopefully, can help patients with marijuana-induced mental illnesses.