A new study has found evidence that the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) may protect adolescents against the long-term psychiatric risks of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Neuroscientists at Indiana University found that CBD possesses properties that protect against symptoms like impaired memory caused by THC in adolescent mice.
While CBD does not cause a “high” and has been found to have a “favorable safety profile,” research suggests that consuming high levels of THC during adolescence may increase the risk for certain psychiatric and neurological disorders. The findings in this new study suggest that CBD appears can potentially counteract the risks associated with THC.
The researchers divided adolescent or adult mice into five separate groups. Three groups were given daily treatments of 3 milligrams per kilogram of body weight of THC, CBD, or a combination of both THC and CBD for three weeks. The remaining two groups were given either a placebo or no treatment at all. The mice in all five groups were then tested for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and impaired memory immediately after the three weeks of treatment and again six weeks later.
The adolescent and adult mice given CBD alone showed no behavioral side effects immediately or six weeks after the treatment period.
The group of mice exposed to THC alone, however, showed signs of impaired memory and increased obsessive-compulsive behavior immediately after treatment. Six weeks after treatment, the adolescents within the THC group continued to experience those side effects six weeks after treatment, while adult mice saw their effects subside. Both adults and adolescent mice given only THC were found to experience an increase in anxiety after the six-week period.
The adolescent and adult mice given both CBD and THC, like those given CBD alone, demonstrated no short- or long-term behavioral changes. The findings suggest that CBD was effective at preventing the sometimes cognitive and behavioral dysfunction that can arise in adolescents consuming high levels of THC over time.
“This study confirms in an animal model that high-THC cannabis use by adolescents may have long-lasting behavioral effects,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Ken Mackie, in a statement. “It also suggests that strains of cannabis with similar levels of CBD and THC would pose significantly less long-term risk due to CBD’s protective effect against THC.”
“This is the first study in a rigorously controlled animal model to find that CBD appears to protect the brain against the negative effects of chronic THC,” Mackie added.
Parents of young children and those seeking to avoid exposure to THC often prefer CBD-rich products like CBD hemp oil. These non-psychoactive products allow users to experience the balancing and healing properties of cannabinoids without experiencing a high or any other behavioral effects. This study suggests that those users who find THC beneficial may be able to eliminate unwanted side effects by also taking CBD.
A study published earlier this year found that CBD may be beneficial for treating drug-resistant symptoms associated with schizophrenia.
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