On August 7th 2020, University College London (UCL) published a report which showed that a single dose of cannabidiol (CBD) could help increase blood flow in the hippocampus — part of the brain associated with emotions and memory.
The study conducted by UCL consisted of 15 randomized participants that were given doses of either 600mg of oral CBD or a placebo. They found that CBD can influence cerebral blood flow (CBF) in regions of the brain involved in memory processing, and that CBD increased CBF in the hippocampus. Therefore UCL concluded that CBF can be altered with the consumption of CBD to treat diseases.
UCL’s researchers stated that results could help treat a range of conditions characterized by changes in how the brain processes memories and the control of blood flow — this includes Alzhermer’s disease, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) reported that about 7-8% of the population will have PTSD at some point in their lives following a traumatic event. Women are more likely to develop PTSD compared to men — roughly 10% of the population (or 10/100) — will develop PTSD compared to men at only 4%.
Previous research conducted by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2019 showed that 91% of adult patients in a psychiatry clinic experienced a decrease in PTSD symptom severity after eight consecutive weeks of CBD treatment. The journal also said that the use of CBD was generally tolerated, and no patients discontinued treatment due to side effects.
The researchers concluded that the administration of oral CBD can be associated with the reduction of PTSD symptoms in adults. They also found that CBD can offer relief for patients who reported to have frequent nightmares from PTSD.
The CBD Awareness Project explained further that CBD in particular may have positive effects on several of the core symptoms of PTSD, including the avoidance and arousal of symptoms.
When CBD is introduced to the body topically or orally, it affects the central nervous system to increase pleasure and alter memory procession, CBD Awareness Project indicated.
In simpler terms, the project added, when the body experiences a boost of pleasure, the traumatic memory is blocked — which helps the individual feel less anxious over the trauma. In turn, they show less PTSD symptoms including avoidance or arousal of symptoms.
The use of CBD to treat PTSD is reported to have less side effects than traditional medications, according to the CBD Awareness Project, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and antidepressants, which can cause side effects including nausea, headaches, or insomnia.
As for veterans, research conducted by Care by Design in 2016 showed that 80% of veterans suffering from PTSD who used medical cannabis to treat their illness reported that they consumed less alcohol.
In addition, Care by Design’s research also indicated that respondents reported that using cannabis was the most likely to improve PTSD symptoms, and the least likely to make symptoms worse.
Additional research also suggests that CBD significantly decreased the amount of flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, stress and insomnia in PTSD patients, according to Daily CBD.
Altogether, the science shows CBD may be a potential treatment for a range of conditions ranging from PTSD, to memory loss, to sleeplessness.
However, Frontiers in Neuroscience still stressed that “more studies are needed to develop a better understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms involved in CBD responses.”