New Study: CBD Increases Brain Connectivity And Mitigates Against THC Disruption

Two new studies have found that CBD can counteract the disrupting effects that THC has in some networks of the brain. 

The two studies, published in the Journal of Psycopharmacology, found that while THC strongly disrupts striato-cortical networks in the brain, the effect is somewhat mitigated by the co-administration of CBD in the limbic striatum network.

Additionally, CBD on its own increased connectivity in the associative network in the striatum.

The studies

Matt Wall and his team of researchers set out to examine the effects of THC and CBD on the functional connectivity of the striatum – an area of the brain which plays an important role in controlling voluntary movement and processing reward-related information. 

Disruptions in the striatum are associated with psychiatric disorders such as addiction and depression, as well as neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s.

The first study used previous data from a study where 17 healthy participants inhaled cannabis containing either 8 mg THC, 8 mg THC + 10 mg CBD, or a placebo before having their brain activity measured.

Strong disruptive effects of both THC and THC + CBD on connectivity was seen in the associative and sensorimotor networks. However, a specific effect of THC in the limbic striatum network was not present in the THC + CBD group.

In the second study,  23 participants received either 600 mg CBD orally or a placebo before having their brain activity measured.

It was found that CBD increased connectivity in the associative network, but produced only relatively minor disruptions in the limbic and sensorimotor networks of the striatum.

Balanced strain  

According to data, THC and CBD seemingly had counteractive effects. THC administration without CBD had a disruptive impact on the functional connectivity of the striatum, and orally ingested CBD without THC appeared to increase the striatum’s functional connectivity. 

While CBD and THC administered together also decreased the striatum connectivity, it was not on the same scale as the THC-only preparations. 

Matt Wall says: “High-strength, relatively pure-THC cannabis can severely affect some brain networks, but when THC is combined with cannabidiol (CBD) in a more ‘balanced’ way, these effects may be reduced somewhat, making a balanced strain of cannabis potentially safer to use.  

“CBD by itself seems to have quite minimal effects on the brain networks we looked at, which means it’s probably safe for use as a potential therapy.” 

The findings from this study also coincide with results from previous research that suggests high THC doses disrupt the brain’s functional connectivity, while THC and CBD consumed together only cause minimal impairment. 

Much to learn

The two studies were relatively small, so they need to be replicated with larger groups of participants – something which the authors of the study are currently working to achieve. 

Data was also used from two different subjects groups, so direct comparisons between the two sets of results is hard to accomplish. 

“Cannabis is a very popular recreational drug, and is also starting to be used medically for some purposes, but we still don’t know a great deal about how different cannabinoids affect the brain,” Wall quoted. 

He continued, “Understanding the effects of different cannabinoids on the brain is therefore an important public-health issue, and might help in further developing therapeutic uses of cannabinoids.” 

“In addition, there is some evidence that high-strength cannabis (which typically has very high levels of THC, but low levels of other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol) may be more dangerous and be more associated with problems such as addiction or psychosis in long-term users.”  

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