There has been a noticeable shift in the type of cannabis research published in 2022. The facilitation of research and the spread of legalization have paved the way for new and exciting ways to research cannabis. As such, 2022 has brought us some of the most interesting cannabis research findings we’ve seen so far. Here are five of the most interesting ones to emerge from the bunch.
There has been a noticeable shift in the type of cannabis research published in 2022. The facilitation of research and the spread of legalization have paved the way for new and exciting ways to research cannabis.
While research into the independent effects of THC and CBD is still the focus of most studies, there is growing interest in commercially available cannabis products, whole plant extracts, and the effects of terpenes on brain function. Below you will find five intriguing cannabis studies conducted in 2022.
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Terpenes, Not THC Concentration, Are the Best Indicators of How Much You’ll Like the Herb
Many cannabis products are described by their cannabinoid content (e.g., THC or CBD), but the plant also produces hundreds of terpenes. These aromatic compounds give cannabis its unique smell and taste.
However, a recent study by Arianne Wilson-Poe revealed that terpenes also provide subjective appeal and determine the attractiveness of a particular cannabis strain. The researchers tested the attractiveness of cannabis products with different concentrations of THC (from less than 0.3% to more than 30%) in nearly 300 people during thousands of recorded consumption sessions.
As THC potency increases in commercially available products, one would predict that higher THC concentrations would be directly correlated with an overall interest in the product, but this was not the case. There was no correlation between THC potency, total cannabis dose, or total THC dose with the subjective appeal of a particular strain. Only terpene-derived aroma directly correlated with attractiveness scores in the test subjects. So if you like the scent of a specific cannabis strain, you are likely to feel good after it
Therefore, the aroma of a product is a better predictor of pleasure than THC content. The findings underscore the importance of terpenes and suggest that you don’t have to be overly stoned to have a pleasurable experience.
Cannabis Research Shows Benefits of Cannabis for the Aging Brain
Communication efficiency in different brain regions changes with age and contributes to age-related memory impairment and cognitive decline. Colorado researchers used functional neuroimaging to assess how regular cannabis use (at least once a week) in adults over the age of 60 altered the strength of communication between several areas of the brain, which typically declines with age.
They found that people over 60 who used cannabis regularly had more robust communication between three areas of the brain – the hippocampus, the parahippocampal cortex, and the cerebellum – compared to older people who did not use cannabis. Stronger connectivity in these brain regions in older cannabis users resembled the brains of much younger adults who did not use cannabis and suggests that cannabis may protect against some age-related declines in brain function.
While these results are not causal, as they were not randomized, controlled clinical trials, they provide some of the first human evidence supporting observations from rodent studies in which small amounts of cannabis protected against age-related brain changes and cognitive decline.
CBD Does Not Necessarily Mitigate the Negative Effects of THC
Achieving the desired high requires finding the optimal dose of THC. Unfortunately, exceeding this ideal dose can cause some problems: memory is impaired, cognitive performance declines, and overall, it’s just a less enjoyable experience.
It is widely believed that CBD can attenuate the adverse effects of THC. Therefore, products with a higher CBD-to-THC ratio are considered safer and lead to fewer unwanted THC side effects. Researchers conducted a placebo experiment in which 46 cannabis users were tested, ultimately concluding that this hypothesis was inaccurate.
As it turns out, vaporized CBD extracts at a ratio of 1:1, 2:1, or 3:1 per 10 mg of THC did not protect against the adverse effects of THC. CBD levels also did not affect THC’s effects, including feelings of stonedness, impaired performance at work and long-term memory, increased pleasurable responses to music and chocolate, or impact on a range of physiological measurements, including blood pressure and heart rate.
These findings indicate that incorporating CBD into THC products may have no protective benefit against some of the adverse effects of THC. It may be that higher CBD-to-THC ratios can be effective. Still, to be sure, the safest strategy to avoid the potentially negative impact of THC is to reduce the dose rather than masking it behind higher concentrations of CBD.
THC and CBD Levels Fail to Predict Effects in Cannabis Study
Commercial cannabis products are usually labeled with THC and CBD levels so that consumers can predict the effects after consumption. However, it turns out that this is not enough information to make an accurate prediction about the effects of cannabis.
For many people, this is not surprising. For example, Indica products have historically been thought to be relaxing, while Sativa products are energizing. Still, these classifications are less critical than a strain’s chemical composition, which includes a mix of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. Nevertheless, THC and CBD content are the primary indicators displayed on retail cannabis products.
A recent study found that oral ingestion of Indica oil reduced the effort animals were willing to make to achieve a reward – in short, it made them lazy. However, Sativa oil, despite having the same THC and CBD content, did not cause this slothful effect.
These findings show that THC and CBD levels, as well as Indica and Sativa classification, are not the only factors considered when predicting the effects of cannabis consumption on brain function. Other minor cannabinoids and terpenes also matter, and it is generally these that modulate the effects of cannabis.
CBD-Rich Hemp Oil Improves Core Social Symptoms in People with Autism Spectrum Disorders
For years, many parents of children on the autism spectrum have raved about the benefits of cannabis-based therapy. However, it is worth noting that the goal is not to cure autism but to make life easier and improve life and social skills so they can eventually be more independent.
For several years, Israeli researchers have been conducting clinical trials that reveal promising results of cannabis oil with a 20:1 CBD to THC ratio for many symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. These symptoms include improved sleep, reduced anxiety, fewer rage attacks, and improved self-esteem.
The results of these clinical trials show that cannabis also improved basic social communication skills and improved everyday skills such as dressing, eating, and cleaning in children and adolescents. While these benefits did not extend to other underlying symptoms, such as scheming and repetitive behaviors, this study underscores the exciting potential of cannabis to improve the quality of life for people with autism spectrum disorders and enhance their ability to lead more independent lives.
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