A study published in Surgical Neurology International noted that activation of the body’s endocannabinoid system—either by the body’s own cannabinoids, or by smoked, vaped, topical, or sublingual cannabinoids—positively impacts such brain busters as pain, autism, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive behavior, epilepsy, schizophrenia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s diseases (see below), Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety, depression, panic, and, whew, psychosis. The theory: Cannabinoids are potent anti-inflammatories and neuroprotectants, hence the brain benefits.

Does this include CBD?

Yes. “[CBD] has possible therapeutic effects over a broad range of neuropsychiatric disorders,” say the authors of a Pharmacology Research study entitled “Cannabidiol, neuroprotection and neuropsychiatric disorders.” CBD may help prevent brain damage from neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, and it may head off “psychotic-, anxiety- and depressive-like behav iors.” CBD is known to help promote the development of synapses and the growth of new neurons, which may account for a wide range of therapeutic effects.

But is it messing up young brains?

Researchers at the British Journal of Pharmacology made note of the persistent buzz that cannabis had negative effects on young brains. So they conducted a wide-ranging study of use among the young. Their conclusion: The short-term effects do indeed render teenagers dopey. But after several days of abstinence, those mental effects disappeared. Daily use: not good. But abstinence, or even just growing up, might be the simple cure. 

And don’t forget Alzheimer’s disease

The causes of Alzheimer’s remain the object of intense research, as do the tantalizingly helpful effects of cannabis on the disease. That said, two frequently named culprits in the memory-destroying condition are 1) amyloid plaques, which clog up neural tissue, and 2) inflammation, which develops along with those plaques and further hampers brain function. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the intoxicant in cannabis, has been shown (in mouse studies) to moderate that damage. And then there are the general neuroprotective effects of cannabis, mentioned above. So, will it help you remember where you left the car keys? The jury is still out. But the possibilities are worth thinking about.