The Impact of Cannabis on Cognition
and Mental Focus
Even today, there are those who still associate cannabis use with pothead stereotypes who are lazy and intellectually challenged. However, cannabis-based products such as the https://www.leafly.com/products/details/every-day-optimal-cbd-2000mg-cbd-tincture-thc-free-pure-cannabidiol-oil may actually help improve the cognitive functions of the brain as well as enhance mental focus.
While this may seem improbable, research into the various potential medical applications of cannabis show that some of its components have properties that may be able to give your brain an upgrade and even protect it from decline.
So, how can something that has for so long been responsible for getting people stoned witless have such an effect? It is easier to wrap your head around the answer to this question once you realize that there is more to cannabis than just marijuana.
Cannabis Sativa vs. Cannabis Indica
Marijuana or cannabis sativa is the more popular species of the cannabis family. The plant is tall, slender and is recognizable easily with its iconic-looking marijuana leaves. Its buds are rich in one particular cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gives this cannabis plant its psychoactive properties. A batch of buds from marijuana contains about 5 to 20 percent THC, which are levels that will get you stoned. Some have even bred special varieties to have higher THC content to give off a potent and dangerously stronger, mind-numbing high. It is important to note that THC isn’t all that bad. It does have its own medicinal value, which is why marijuana legalization continues to gain more supporters.
Another species of the cannabis family is the hemp or cannabis indica. This species is shorter than cannabis sativa and, while its leaves are similar to marijuana leaves, the indica leaves are noticeably wider and tend to bunch together. Hemp also contains cannabinoids, including one that stands out and is a main talking point in the discussion of marijuana legalization. This cannabinoid is called cannabidiol (CBD), and it is the subject of numerous studies that are looking into its medical applications that are very promising.
Early studies indicate that CBD shows potential in the treatment and management of a wide range of medical conditions including pain, anxiety disorder, loss of appetite, sleeping disorder, hypertension, schizophrenia, heart and circulatory problems and even acne.
THC also has a similar medicinal application, but one thing sets it apart from CBD. Unlike THC, CBD does not have psychoactive effects. Marijuana and hemp have both the CBD and THC cannabinoids, but the THC content in hemp is negligible, so it won’t make you high or fail a drug test. Therefore, hemp oil, or CBD oil, is a good choice for those who want to enjoy the health benefits from cannabis without the hazy effects of THC.
It is easier to explain how cannabis improves cognition and mental focus. The answer is that cannabis indica, with its high CBD and low THC content, has been shown in studies to improve cognitive functions as well as mental focus.
How Does CBD Improve Cognition and Mental Focus?
It is important to note that CBDs effect on cognition and mental focus is secondary only to its primary effect on the brain. Recent studies consistently show that CBD has an anxiolytic or calming effect that mitigates or even negate the onset of various anxiety disorders. These include social anxiety disorder (SAD), panic attacks, general anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which are receptors that are responsible for regulating emotional behavior and the fight-or-flight response to stress triggers.
Because stress is one of the major factors that can impair the cognitive functions of the brain, its absence will no doubt have the opposite effect. Long-time users of hemp-derived CBD report of improved cognitive functions like spatial awareness, logical reasoning and memory and recall. According to hemp oil users, the calming effects of CBD also allow them to have better mental clarity and focus.
Studies also show that CBD does wonders in improving sleep disorders, making it a good supplement for those who are suffering from insomnia. This ability of CBD also stems from its interaction with the ECS receptors that are also responsible for the regulation of the body’s sleep-wake patterns. Just like stress, lack of sleep and irregular sleeping habits can impair brain functions. Therefore, healthy sleeping habits will contribute to improving cognition and focus. In addition, CBD also improves wakefulness during the daytime, which can help enhance mental clarity and focus even more.
Apart from improving the brain’s cognitive functions, cannabidiol can also protect the brain from damage due to oxidative stress and neurodegenerative diseases. A 2015 study shows that CBD can reduce inflammation in the brain, which is a common symptom in several neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Huntington’s disease. Initial results from these studies show that CBD has neuroprotective properties and can even help prevent the onset of neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Be Mindful of THC
What about THC? While this other cannabinoid has its own medicinal properties, it will not do as well as CBD in improving cognition and mental focus. In fact, THC may actually have the opposite effect. While CBD has exceptional ability in the treatment and management of anxiety, THC can actually cause and worsen anxiety and paranoia. THC can also disrupt sleep-wake patterns, which can cause cognitive sluggishness and brain fog. Some studies suggest that long-term use of THC can cause damage to brain neurons and receptors, which in turn, can impair the normal functions of the brain. The good news is that you can still enjoy the medicinal properties of THC as long as you use it alongside CBD to counteract its negative effects.
So, what impact does cannabis have on cognition and mental focus? The impact is quite significant, and it comes in ways that some people do not expect. Short of calling cannabis, particularly CBD as a smart drug, it does show tremendous potential as a cognitive enhancer. While the nootropic community has yet to include CBD in their discussions, it won’t be surprising if this cannabinoid becomes a common fixture in their stacks alongside smart drugs like racetams, n-phenylacetyl-l-prolylglycine ethyl ester (known commercially as Noopept) )and choline.