Publication Details

Weston-Green, K. (2019). The United Chemicals of Cannabis: Beneficial Effects of Cannabis Phytochemicals on the Brain and Cognition. In W. J. Costain & R. B. Laprairie (Eds.), Recent Advances in Cannabinoid Research (pp. 83-100). London, United Kingdom: IntechOpen. 2018


‘Medicinal cannabis’ can be defined as pharmaceutical grade cannabis-based products used for the treatment of illness. Beneficial treatment effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a major non-intoxicating compound isolated from the cannabis plant, have been shown in multiple states of cognitive impairment, including neurodegenerative (Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease), neuroinflammatory (sepsis-induced encephalopathy) and neurological disorders (ischemic brain injury). CBD can also treat some of the symptoms of schizophrenia, including cognitive deficits (impairments in learning and memory), which is a major symptom domain of the illness that is largely resistant to existing antipsychotic medications. However, empirical evidence suggests the presence of an ‘entourage effect’ in cannabis; that is, observations that medicinal cannabis seems to work better in some instances when administered as a whole-plant extract. While scientific evidence highlights isolated CBD as a strong candidate for treating cognitive impairment, the entourage effect suggests that the co-operation of other plant molecules could provide further benefits. This chapter explores the scientific evidence surrounding the benefits of CBD and other specific key phytochemicals in cannabis: linalool, α-pinene, β-caryophyllene, flavonoids and anthocyanin, on brain health and cognition.



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