CBD oil boosts blood flow in brain area central to memory, emotions

A single dose of CBD oil improves blood flow in a key area of the brain connected with memory and may advance research into related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

That’s what University College London investigators said after performing a small, randomized study published recently in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. With the help of arterial spin labeling MRI, they found that cannabidiol increased blood flow in the hippocampus of patients with no history of cannabis use.

While the study only included a small group of individuals, lead author Michael Bloomfield, PhD, with UCL Psychiatry, said the results are impressive.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to find that CBD increases blood flow to key regions involved in memory processing, particularly the hippocampus,” he added in a statement. “This supports the view that CBD has region-specific blood flow effects in the human brain, which has previously been disputed."

To reach their conclusions, Bloomfield et al. selected 15 randomized patients to receive a 600mg dose of oral CBD or a placebo. They received the medication in identical capsules on different days while researchers used MR imaging to measure blood oxygen levels in their brains.

CBD boosted flow in the hippocampus and the orbitofrontal cortex, part of the larger prefrontal cortex which is used in planning and decision-making, the authors noted. Interestingly, blood flow was unaffected in the medial temporal lobe, which is largely made up of the hippocampus.

Bloomfield and colleagues pointed out that their research was limited by only using a single dose of CBD in healthy patients and may not translate to repeated use.

Aside from this, they believe their results could be an “important discovery” for memory conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and improving targeted-therapy approaches.

“If replicated, these results could lead to further research across a range of conditions characterized by changes in how the brain processes memories, including Alzheimer’s disease, where there are defects in the control of blood control flow, along with schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder,” Bloomfield said.

Read the entire study here.