THC produces opposite effects in the brain compared with CBD, according to Australian researchers who systematically reviewed 31 scientific papers on the topic. These changes are especially pronounced in brain regions that are rich in cannabinoid receptors, said the 2016 article in Biological Psychiatry.
Each chemical compound extracted from cannabis is distinct, and each has specific effects on mental health and brain function, they said.
THC has proven therapeutic benefits, but it can also increase anxiety symptoms, hasten the onset of psychosis and cause psychotic-like experiences, particularly in those who may be pre-disposed (e.g. bipolar diathesis).
Remarkably, cannabidiol (CBD) shows promising results as a medicinal compound to actually treat psychosis and CBD actually protects the brain from harmful effects.
Because THC can create feelings of euphoria, cannabis plants can be, and have been, specifically bred to contain high levels of THC, at the expense of lower amounts of CBD.
Greater dose and earlier age of onset were associated with these changes in brain activity and THC-induced brain damage.
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