CBD, Fear And Memory

In previous entries, we’ve covered how cannabis might affect memory and memory consolidation. The basic idea has been that cannabis might prevent the formation of traumatic memory. However, until now, we haven’t seen any research dealing specifically with fear. The connection between memory and fear may not be immediately obvious to readers; however, as it turns out, they’re very much related. A state of fear engages previous memories of threat as well as requires recall of escape/defense strategy. Given cannabidiol’s (CBD’s) success in early studies as an anti-psychotic, researchers might hypothesize a beneficial effect of CBD administration on fear response. However, only recently have Brazilian researchers carried out such an experiment, using rodents and varying doses of CBD. In most animal models of fear, researchers apply a threatening environmental stimulus. Of course, none of these might be more threatening than the mice’ natural predator, a boa constrictor snake! Researchers therefore forced confrontations between mice and snakes using an “arena” or plastic container, where they could record movement information. In one corner of the container, researchers placed a protective burrow. This burrow has two sides and a small opening on either, allowing mice to run in one side to escape the snake, and run out the other side once the snake begins to enter the burrow. Because this is an effective escape, a pro-survival strategy of mice would be to run away from the snake, toward the burrow. This is called “oriented escape”. However, in some cases, the mice become too…

THC May Help Break Down Harmful Memories

Lately cannabidiol (CBD) has been hogging the therapeutic limelight; it’s an anti-inflammatory, an anti-tumor, and it helps inhibit psychotic behavior. THC, the psychoactive chemical most prized in the recreational community, has been deemed to have less potential for therapeutic use, in part due to the side effects that accompany dosage. For this reason, much clinical research has shifted toward CBD and away from THC. However, THC’s psychedelic, mindset-altering activity is exactly what lends it therapeutic benefits in situations involving memory and fear consolidation. Fear memory consolidation occurs after a painful memory is acquired, and is the process through which that memory is stabilized in the brain. Although not all aspects are understood, we know that the consolidation process involves strengthening synapses the brain deems useful and paring down synapses the brain deems less useful. Aside from this process, memories are also converted from being dependent on the short-term memory region of the brain to being independent of this region and placed in a longer-term storage area. However, memories are also capable of being re-consolidated and forming new associations. To put all of this into practical terms, someone suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) stemming from military service may initially suffer injury while hearing an unrelated stimulus, such as a warning siren. The brain may then associate the pain and injury with that sound. Unfortunately, as the individual returns to normal society and hears similar sounds, such as ambulance sirens, those memories and fears may resurface, causing additional pain, aggression, and…