cbd counteract thc

Rats given both CBD and THC had normal ERK signals, and did not show signs of anxiety, paranoia or memory loss in the behavioral tests. The researchers believe that means that the CBD prevented the overstimulation of the ERK pathway.

The two main compounds in cannabis are in a constant balancing act.

“We found that THC is overstimulating the ERK pathway, altering oscillation patterns in the brain linked to schizophrenia and disturbing the dopamine system,” said Laviolette.

(Inside Science) — Many people who use cannabis do it for the euphoric effects caused by the main psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, often called THC. But THC can also cause unpleasant side effects like paranoia, dissociative thoughts, impaired memory or even psychotic episodes. As cannabis has become more potent, it is becoming more likely that some users will experience those effects. But another compound present in the plant, the non-psychoactive cannabidiol, actually works against THC and can block those negative effects.

Working with rats, Laviolette focused on an area of the brain called the ventral hippocampus, which is involved in emotional control and is known to be vulnerable to some of the long-term effects of high-potency THC. Rats who were given THC exhibited many of the acute negative side effects in behavioral tests, such as anxiety about new environments, and problems with social interaction, memory, and their ability to filter out unnecessary sensory data. When they examined the rats’ brains after the tests, the researchers determined that the effects were caused by an overactive cellular signaling molecule called extracellular signal-regulated kinase, or ERK.

Now a team of researchers led by Steven Laviolette, a neuroscientist at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, has figured out how the two compounds interact in the brain, and how CBD, as cannabidiol is also known, balances out the negative psychiatric side effects of THC. Their work was published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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Daniele Piomelli, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine who was not involved in the study, said CBD has been long suspected to modulate the effects of THC, but the mechanism has remained unclear. “This study is interesting because it provides at the molecular and synaptic level a mechanism by which CBD can counter THC,” he said.

Cannabis sativa contains more than 80 different cannabinoids, of which THC is principally responsible for the pharmacological actions, including the psychoactive effects. THC binds to specific proteins in the brain – the cannabinoid receptors (CB-Rs) (1). Two different receptors have been discovered: the CB1 and CB2 receptors (2, 3). CB1-R is mainly found in the central nervous system (CNS); CB2-R is predominantly present in the immune system (3–5). Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring substances that attach to these receptors (6–8).


Tetrahydrocannabinol mimics the effect of endocannabinoids. In contrast to these substances, THC is not rapidly broken down at the site of operation, and it not only works at specific locations but simultaneously activates all CB receptors throughout the brain (14).

Toxicology of CBD

Longitudinal studies that have investigated the relationship between chronic cannabis use and the occurrence of psychosis have shown that cannabis use increases the risk of later psychotic symptoms and disorders by a factor of 2–3. The magnitude of the risk depends on the degree of exposure, the age of onset of cannabis use and the “vulnerability” of the user (50–52). No longitudinal studies have distinguished between the type of cannabis having been used, and no studies give an indication of the THC/CBD ratio.