Researchers from University College London in England have found that a single dose of cannabidiol (CBD) increases blood flow to the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory formation.
For the study, the researchers recruited 15 healthy young adult participants with little or no history of cannabis use. On occasions separated by at least a week, each person was given either 600mg of CBD or a placebo. Both the CBD and placebo were delivered in identical tablets.
The researchers then measured blood flow to the hippocampus using a magnetic resonance imagine technique known as arterial spin labeling. This meant they were able to measure changes in levels of blood oxygen.
All in all, the researchers found that CBD significantly increases blood flow to the hippocampus. They also noted that the compound increases blood flow to the orbitofrontal cortex, thought to have a role in decision-making.
However, they also saw that the compounds do not lead to significant differences in blood flow to other parts of the medial temporal lobe- where the hippocampus is located.
Nevertheless, the results support researchers’ previous views that CBD has region-specific blood flow effects in the human brain.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to find that CBD increases blood flow to key regions involved in memory processing, particularly the hippocampus.” says Dr. Michael Bloomfield, lead author of the study.
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“If replicated, these results could lead to further research across a range of conditions characterized by changes in how the brain processes memories, including Alzheimer’s disease, where there are defects in the control of blood control flow, along with schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Although interesting findings, the researchers do warn, however, that their results may not be conclusive. This comes as their sample size consisted of only healthy volunteers, and they only studied the effects of a single dose on participants. Results may thus be different for those with other conditions and multiple doses over longer periods of time.