Impacts of CBD on Brain Functions & Memory: Myth vs Fact

human brain

The Key Points:

  • CBD (Cannabidiol) has been studied for its impact on cognitive functions and memory.
  • Research has shown CBD could mitigate the memory impairment caused by THC.
  • CBD interacts with cannabinoid and serotonin receptors in the brain, potentially affecting mood, perception, and stress responses.
  • One study found that CBD increased blood flow to the hippocampus, an area important for memory and emotion.
  • There's no evidence to suggest CBD is addictive, but more research is needed.

There's a lot of conversation about the pros and cons of CBD. Some say it has fantastic properties, while others express concerns about its safety. A frequently asked question is whether CBD is harmful to the brain or not. This article discusses the impacts of CBD on memory and provides insight into how this cannabinoid might influence cognitive functions.

How harmful is cannabis to the brain?

The harmfulness of cannabis to the brain has long been debated. There are various studies that yield different results. Some claim that cannabis is harmful to the brain, while others argue that this is not the case.

The main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When THC enters the body, it travels to the brain and influences its function. The US "National Institute on Drug Abuse" (NIDA) points out that THC binds to certain receptors in the brain. These are called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are located in areas of the brain that govern pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and movement.

When THC binds to these receptors, it can alter the way the brain works. For this reason, cannabis can produce various psychoactive effects, such as altered moods and perceptions, coordination problems, and difficulties in thinking and problem-solving.

The impact of CBD on memory

A study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that CBD can reduce memory impairments caused by THC. In the study, rats were either administered THC or CBD, and their memory was subsequently tested. Rats that were administered CBD did not show the same memory impairments as those administered THC.

How does CBD affect the brain?

Although both CBD and THC interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain (both indirectly and directly), they have different effects. It has been observed that CBD can dampen the effect of THC, which might explain why it can decrease THC's psychoactive effect.

CBD also interacts with other receptors, known as serotonin receptors. Serotonin receptors influence a variety of body and brain functions. For instance, they affect a person's perception, mood, appetite, and pain sensation, but they are also responsible for our responses to stress.

According to a new study, CBD increases blood flow to the brain

A study on the effects of acute Cannabidiol on cerebral blood flow was published in the scientific journal Journal of Psychopharmacology.

The researchers wanted to investigate how CBD affects blood flow in various regions of the brain, and they found out that it reduces the activity of certain cells. This could be one way this compound from the hemp plant assists in memory processing.

For the randomized controlled trial, 15 healthy adults who had never consumed cannabis were selected. Each participant received 600mg of CBD (Cannabidiol) orally or a placebo on separate occasions at least a week apart. The doses were delivered in identical capsules, so the participants didn't know which one they were taking on which occasion.

The result:

CBD increases blood flow to the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a critical area of the brain for emotions and memory. This was determined in a new study by researchers from UCL. According to the researchers, this could be significant for conditions that impair memory, like Alzheimer's disease and PTSD. It could help target therapies.

MRI images of two brains

CBD and dopamine

Another study, published in the scientific journal Molecular Psychiatry, found that CBD can increase the levels of dopamine in the brain by activating the D2 dopamine receptor.

What is dopamine?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in pleasure, motivation, and reward. It is released by the brain when we experience something enjoyable. Dopamine plays an important role in addiction.

So, can CBD be addictive?

There is no evidence that CBD can be addictive. However, further research is required to determine whether it can become habit-forming or not.


The harmfulness of cannabis to the brain has long been discussed, yet many questions remain unanswered. Different studies yield different results. The main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, THC, binds to certain receptors in the brain and can alter its function. This can lead to various effects like mood swings, coordination problems, and difficulties in thinking. CBD has the ability to dampen the effect of THC. It has also been shown to increase the levels of dopamine in the brain. There's no evidence that CBD can be addictive, but further investigations are required to determine whether it can become habit-forming.

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