Neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity, is your minds ability to learn new things and to change throughout your life. It works through the process of neurogenesis, the creation of new neurons, and neuro degeneration, or the death of neurons. When you’re a child your brain has high plasticity, making learning new things easy for young children. As you age your neuroplasticity gets lower, making learning new things a little harder. However, there is evidence that cannabis can help battle this process and actually increase neuroplasticity by encouraging neurogenesis and protecting existing neurons.
In a study done in 2012 by a group of scientists used mice to observe the effects of THC on the mind. The mice were given head injuries through the use of MDMA, carbon monoxide, or anesthesia. THC was given to them either 1-7 days before the injury, or 1-3 days after. They found that low doses of THC were effective in defending neurons from injury. So, the results essentially indicated that THC is like an armor for your brain.
CBD has also been found to aid in increasing neuroplasticity by encouraging the growth of new neurons. A study done in Brazil in 2013 found that CBD can encourage neurogenesis in an area of the brain known as the hippocampus. This area is responsible for regulating emotions and cognitive function. It’s also the one area of the adult brain that continues to produce new neurons throughout your life. The scientists were studying it initially to determine the effects of CBD on anxiety and depression, and in the process discovered it’s neurogenesis effects.
Both of these studies reinforce a concept well known in the cannabis community: the herb opens up your mind. Not only can consuming cannabis lead to an increased appreciation of the world around us, it also helps us form new memories, and learn. These findings could help combat diseases that attack neurons, help adults learn more efficiently, and even keep us feeling younger.
Shasta Nelson is a California Native and a cannabis connoisseur. She's been involved in the industry at every level since she was a teenager. Currently she provides content for Roottie, DOPE Magazine, and Terpenes and Testing. She's also a creative writer, with a graphic novel underway.