Cannabidiol is just one of the many active ingredients in marijuana. THC may be the chemical compound that gets all the attention, but researchers are finding some interesting properties of cannabidiol, too. In addition to having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, cannabidiol may be beneficial to the brain in certain cases.
This substance found in pot may help IMPROVE memory.
The research is still in the earliest stages, but the findings so far have been encouraging. In one phase of the study, researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia started with a batch of mice which had been bred to show the same signs of memory loss as found in Alzheimer's and dementia patients. Some of the mice were then administered regular doses of cannabidiol, while others just lived their regular mouse lives.
What the researchers have found is that the mice which have been exposed to cannabidiol "showed drastic improvement on parts of the tests that were related to recognizing and remembering objects and other mice."
In another phase of the study, the researchers examined what happened when they added cannabidiol to animal brain cells that help produce the plaques found in Alzheimer's patients. These plaques are one of the main culprits in the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. They essentially gum up the brain cells, collecting in the gaps between synapses, and preventing the cells from communicating with each other.
The process that causes the formation of the plaques is complicated, but it starts when the brain cells produce a specific protein called "amyloid precursor protein." (Incidentally, using aluminum cookware has nothing to do with Alzheimer's. That's just a myth.) When exposed to cannabidiol, however, the cells reduced the amount of harmful proteins they produced.
And this is all on top of cannabidiol's known anti-inflammatory effects. Many researchers believe that chronic inflammation in the body is one contributing factor to the development of Alzheimer's disease later in life.
Taken on the whole, this research is not likely to reverse the belief that marijuana usage is bad for your short-term memory and overall cognitive performance. After all, it is only one small component out of many active ingredients in the plant's cells. But it is encouraging news for Alzheimer's patients, those who have been promoting the cause of medical marijuana, and research teams which have been advocating for funds to try and study possible therapeutic uses for the various compounds found in marijuana.