Published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology on Tuesday, the study shows that CBD could help lower the potential risk cannabis poses to a person’s brain. Other studies have drawn loose connections between cannabis consumption and psychosis, for instance, but this latest study is showing that cannabis strains with more CBD could help prevent those ailments.
The team of researchers from the University of London used functional magnetic resonance imaging, which measures and maps brain activity to learn more about its behavior, to see the way different cannabis strains impact individual brains. The authors are calling this the first study of its kind to use this technology to analyze how cannabis is messing with our brains.
The study involved 17 participants who underwent this imaging to capture the way weed was affecting their brain activity. These were people who had smoked weed before but weren’t regular users. They smoked three types of weed for the experiment: one high in CBD, another low in it (skunk, actually) and a placebo. Both strains had the same level of THC. The scientists wanted to see how the different CBD levels would change their brain activity.
THC aficionados may want to choose strains with a bit more CBD during mental tasks after hearing these results. That skunk was able to reduce the functionality of the brain when compared to its status during a placebo. This bud was particularly adept at messing with the posterior cingulate area and salience networks. Previous disruptions captured here have been linked to psychosis and addiction, per this press release.
However, the weed with high CBD content—10 milligrams—didn’t have the same effect. The disruption there was “minimal,” as the release describes. The scientists believe that the CBD is preventing some of that impairment. They think it may even help treat disorders like psychosis or addiction.
“We have now found that CBD appears to buffer the user against some of the acute effects of THC on the brain,” said lead author Matt Wall, a neuroscientist at Hammersmith Hospital in London, in this statement.
Interestingly enough, the study found that the posterior cingulate may be the area of the brain that helps drive how stoned a person feels. This is the part of the brain that lost some connectivity when the study participants talked about their high. This wasn’t, however, the case for that low-CBD bud.
There’s a lot we don’t know about brains. Same goes for cannabis. This study, while a tiny sample size, does provide some solid evidence for how our brains react to our beloved grass. The authors are thinking more research should be done on this topic, and regulators should take a closer look. In states where recreational cannabis is legal, it might be time to offer products with higher CBD levels as a safer option. That’s at least an idea the study authors are toying with.
“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,” Wall said, per that statement.