Cognition: The Mental Breakdown
When referencing cognition, what exactly does it mean? Well, cognition (simply put) is the various mental processes in which our minds grow to understand and acquire knowledge. Cognition involves thinking, learning, perception, memory, and problem solving. Our abilities to assess situations/problems and draw conclusions or resolutions thereof, is all part of the cognitive process. Evidence and research studies suggest that cannabidiol (CBD) has antipsychotic and anxiolytic properties and could benefit cognitive health immensely – and potentially treat psychotic or anxiety disorders. While clinical research is still undergoing, there are some things we do know regarding CBD and cognitive function and it begins with an understanding of the human body and our endocannabinoid system (ECS)
CBD, ECS, and We: Let’s Think On It
Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a very complex system that defines how our bodies maintain homeostasis at a cellular level; the ECS exists and is quite active in each of our bodies regardless if we consume cannabis. Our bodies also produce cannabinoids, much like the cannabis plant, and they’re called endogenous cannabinoids. There are two primary endocannabinoid receptors and they are: CB1 which are found in the central nervous system and CB2 which are found in the peripheral nervous system and bind to the endocannabinoids produced by our bodies. It’s important to have a baseline understanding of how our ECS works in order to explain CBD’s interaction and potential for benefitting cognitive function. When CBD enters our bodies, it reacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and regulates the bodies’ core functions to maintain balance and stability. CBD also promotes neurogenesis – the process of the brain of generating new neuron cells. New neuron cells are created in the hippocampus and subventricular zone of the brain which also happens to have mass populations of CB1 receptors. When the CB1 receptors are activated, neurogenesis can occur. CBD is also anti-psychotomimetic and doesn’t produce the mind-altering effects commonly attributed to its predecessor, Delta 9 THC; this makes it an ideal substitution for cannabis consumers that suffer from hypertension and paranoia. CBD has also shown great potential in treating neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, cognitive deficiency disorders, and addictions.
CBD and Cognitive Deficiency
For the past decade, clinical research has delved into the functionality of the CBD and its relation to neurogenesis and cognitive deficiency disorders. At the core of such neuropsychiatric disorders, cognitive impairment can subdue or greatly hinder the functionality of the patient. It can affect such processes as: learning, memory, and attention-span. In reference to memory, CBD has shown to boost and increase blood flow to the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory. For patients that suffer from Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and PTSD, cannabidiol can be a great addition to improving cognitive function. “Limited results in healthy subjects also support the efficacy of CBD in acutely enhancing fear extinction, suggesting potential for the treatment of PTSD, or for enhancing cognitive behavioral therapy.” (Blessing, Steenkamp, Manzanares, Marmar; 2015) CBD is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A lack in coordination and memory loss can be a result of inflammation or a build up of free radicals in the brain- a common side effect of the aforementioned ailments- which CBD has shown to remedy. When our bodies are traumatized , our endocannabinoid systems release endocannabinoids into our body to fight said trauma. Much like this natural occurrence, CBD has the same effect on the body.
CBD and Hyperactivity
Eleven percent of children in the United States have neurodevelopmental conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and 75% of those children continually carry symptoms into adulthood. Clinical research is currently experimenting with CBD’s effectiveness in treating hyperactivity disorders. Acting on opioid and glycine receptors which regulate pain, cannabidiol’s analgesic properties can also aid in the relaxation of its patients. Serotonin, the neurotransmitter commonly associated with uplifting feelings or happiness, also falls within this spectrum of receptors and further promotes the idea that CBD can elevate moods, too. “Preclinical evidence conclusively demonstrates CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders, including PTSD, GAD, PD, OCD, and SAD, with a notable lack of anxiogenic effects.” (Blessing, Steenkamp, Manzanares, Marmar; 2015)
In 2015, a case study was performed on patients that suffered from a myriad of varying health conditions, some of which were psychologically-linked or hyperactive in nature, and showed improvements in cognitive function and a significant reduction in impulsivity and hyperactivity after utilizing CBD orally. “We found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely; however, few studies have investigated chronic CBD dosing.” (Blessing, Steenkamp, Manzanares, Marmar; 2015)
In 2019, medical professionals delved further into this case study and CBD’s potential as treatment for hypertension; collectively they came to a positive result: “The final sample consisted of 72 adults presenting with primary concerns of anxiety (n = 47) or poor sleep (n = 25). Anxiety scores decreased within the first month in 57 patients (79.2%) and remained decreased during the study duration. Sleep scores improved within the first month in 48 patients (66.7%) but fluctuated over time. In this chart review, CBD was well tolerated in all but 3 patients.” (Shannon, Lewis, Lee, Hughes; 2019) As more controlled clinical studies are necessary to solidify this theory, there is evidentiary support for CBD’s effectiveness in treating both hyperactivity, disorders inclusive of hyperactivity, in addition to insomnia.
While CBD products are readily available on most stores’ shelves, the market itself is unregulated which can lead to buyers purchasing products that advertise CBD, but it’s uncertain of its actual contents. Before purchasing a CBD product, we always recommend vetting the source or the company before consumption.
Consuming CBD (the how, when, why of it)
Before we delve too far into this topic, we’d like to offer a gentle reminder to consult your primary care physician prior to purchasing or attempting to utilize CBD for self care. While the evidence is strongly in support of its therapeutic benefits, it’s imperative to communicate with your doctor about what you put into your body. (Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s continue!)
Cannabidiol, or more commonly known as CBD, doesn’t have psychoactive properties – ergo: it won’t get you high. If you’re attempting to utilize it for that purpose, it won’t serve you. In addition to that, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that CBD is non-habit forming and doesn’t hold the same dependency concerns associated with most drugs. “The results of this analysis demonstrated that CBD was placebo-like on all measures (including visual analogue scales, psychomotor performance such as the digit symbol substitution task, heart rate and blood pressure) compared to active cannabis, which produced abuse- related subjective effects as well as a range of other effects.”
There are a multitude of ways that you can consume CBD. While it currently remains unregulated by the FDA, the consumer should be mindful that its effects will vary from person to person. Experimentation is one way of approach, but we recommend that you exercise caution while doing so.
CBD comes in a variety of forms such as: oils and tinctures, capsules, and topicals like creams or gels; it also comes in a variety of consumables like edibles, inhalants, or vapes. For rapid relief, inhalants or smokeables can provide a quick introduction to your bloodstream. Most edibles, like gummies, take time to metabolize in your body and are recommended for rest or sleep induction. You may have to experiment with alternate forms to ensure you’re receiving the most benefit from the interaction. The consumer should also be cognizant of dosage. At this time, there isn’t an exact method (or amount of MG) to the madness, but seasoned users recommend microdosing (and a little patience) to learn how your body is going to react to CBD. Most clinical trials begin with a high dosage ranging from 300-600 MG’s – this isn’t attainable for the beginner consumer. Other clinical trials support that 25-50 MG of CBD is beneficial to treat anxiety. Conclusively, this wide range of MG content supports further the statement that affects will vary per individual.
Can CBD Improve Cognition? Let’s Think On It!
We’ve learned that cognition encompasses our minds’ abilities to understand and acquire knowledge. Cognition involves how we think, how we perceive the world, and our ability to problem solve. Clinical evidence and current research suggests that CBD could also be a supplemental benefactor to those who suffer from cognitive deficiency disorders. We know that cannabidiol (CBD) interacts with our endocannabinoid systems (ECS) by triggering the endocannabinoid receptors into action! When our bodies experience some form of trauma, our ECS is there to (quite literally) remedy the pain. CBD has shown great promise in clinical trials as treatment for hypertension, improving memory and focus, and promoting sleep. “Likewise, evidence from human studies supports an anxiolytic role of CBD, but is currently limited to acute dosing, also with few studies in clinical populations. Overall, current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders, with need for further study of chronic and therapeutic effects in relevant clinical populations.” (Blessing, Steenkamp, Manzanares, Marmar; 2015)
Overall, CBD has the potential to nurture the health of our mindful muscle and improve our cognitive abilities. The hemp market itself is unregulated which makes it challenging for consumers to appropriately dose for their prospective needs; there aren’t a lot of reputable sources in which to navigate that. It is often recommended that consumers microdose then wait a little while to fully grasp their bodies’ responses to it. Utilizing the aforementioned clinical trials as reference, their scope in range of CBD dose per patient varies from 25-600 MGs; this can be daunting to the average consumer. The best practice is to start small then work your way up to higher doses, being mindful of your body’s collective response to it.
Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015, October). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/
Cannabidiol in the treatment of post … – liebertpub.com. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2018.0437?ai=su&mi=cjwv&af=R
Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: A large case series. The Permanente journal. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/
Who | controlled substances. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf