It is not a secret that regular cannabis use affects your memory . Some studies show that marijuana use can impair memory task performance, while others insist that weed does not have any dramatic effect on your mind—it just lags behind a bit when you are high. In any case, this kind of side-effect usually appears only in chronic heavy consumers, and even if you are one, it is still possible to prevent memory loss with the help of simple tricks.
If you already have memory problems induced by cannabis use, it is better to seek professional help and follow the doctor's prescription. Numerous treatment options may help you according to your unique health history.
However, there is, unfortunately, no magic pill that can save everyone from this issue. The problem of memory loss definitely requires more studying. For instance, researchers have recently discovered a link between painkillers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, and the impact of cannabis on the state of memory.
Scientists suggested that THC increases the production of the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in our brain, and it is the same enzyme that plays a significant role in memory loss.
At the same time, painkillers have the opposite effect on COX-2; they decrease its level in our brains, which may potentially help the situation. It could have been a great solution to the problem if not for the serious side-effects of these pills, which include vomiting, stomach ulcers, and alterations in the human microbiome.
As an option, white willow bark can be used as a natural and more caring of our body alternative to aspirin. It also has the useful compounds that inhibit COX-2 and can work the same (if not even more effectively) as common painkillers.
Memory loss is not necessarily associated with cannabis—it can also be a natural process caused by aging. The thing is, our brain cells interact with each other with the help of myelin, a fat-based insulation that coats the cells. And the older we become, the less myelin our body produces.
This is why it is essential to consume fatty acids in our everyday meal―up to 60 percent of fats necessary for our health can be obtained only through food. And one of the most important fats is omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
The easiest way to get omega-3 fatty acids is to consume fish and marine food. Vegetarians can substitute it with algae or krill oil omega supplement, but none of the plant omega-3 sources contain DHA—it can be found only in marine products.
Adding even a bit of fish oil or omega-3s can improve your overall brain activity. A study in New Zealand researched the effect of supplementing omega-3 fatty acids on young adults for six months. One group was given 1.16 grams of DHA for half a year, another was given a placebo. Both groups took a memory test at the beginning of the study and half a year later. The group that got omega-3 supplementations showed an improvement of memory and reaction time, unlike the placebo-treated patients.
So, just make a tuna salad or buy some oysters the next time you are in a supermarket, and help your memory by eating delicious meals. Just like that.
A recent study conducted in Oxford found out that among people with a high omega-3 level, those who get B vitamin supplementations show a slower brain atrophy. It can be explained by the fact that B vitamins also take part in building myelin. At the same time, lack of B12 is associated with progressing mood and psychotic disorders as well as Alzheimer’s disease. That is why it is essential to consume products rich in B vitamin if you use marijuana for medical purposes.
Among the products that have a sufficient B vitamin content, there is pork, ham (B1), yogurt, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese (B2), seafood (B6), mussels, fish, and beef (B12). Vegetarians can find B vitamins in dark green leafy vegetables, fortified whole-grain cereals, enriched rice, green pea, lentils, and nuts such as almonds and pecans.
Here we need to note that consuming vitamin B without omega-3 has little to no help in your possible memory problems—they work better when consumed in tandem.
The main trick in keeping your brain activity on a high level is to make your menu as diverse as possible. While supplements can cost quite a lot, not all of their compounds can be assimilated completely. At the same time, compounds found in food can be digested much better and more efficiently.
That is why it is so important not to neglect healthy dieting. Next time you get munchies, be sure you have healthy food in your fridge so that you have no temptation to snack on chips or chocolate bars. Here are some things that can improve your brain health:
This is probably the first thing that pops up in your mind when you think about ways of keeping your memory in good condition, and of course, it is right. The more you practice all kinds of brain exercises, the better. It allows to keep the existing neuron interactions and create new ones, and that is exactly what we need to keep our memory sharp in any age.
Among hundreds of different memory activity exercises, choose those you like the most―no need to push yourself making those exercises a torture. Enjoy the process! They can be all kinds of memory games, like table games or mobile apps; you can learn poetry by heart or, for instance, memorize the lyrics of your favorite music album. You can practice intuitive writing or maybe start noting stories from your life. Learning new languages or attending lectures on the subject you like can also have a great impact on your brain state. Even thoughtful conversations with your old friend will be good for your brain.
While doing memory exercises to improve your brain state seems logical, then the link between your brain and physical exercises is not so obvious. However, regular exercises can stimulate neurogenesis , i. e. the process of creating new neurons in your brain.
This process is crucial for your brain activity. The good thing is that neurogenesis is likely to happen in those areas of the brain that are responsible for memory. And that means that a regular workout can give you more advantages than just a fit body (which is actually also a lot).
A Canadian study conducted in 2014 found that aerobic training could affect the hippocampus. The researchers examined 86 females aged 70–80 years with mild cognitive impairments; part of the women did regular physical exercises for half a year. The result of the study showed that women who did aerobic exercises on a regular basis demonstrated a significantly improved hippocampal volume. And this part of our brain is the one that transforms short-term memories into long-term memories.
This advice obviously has the same roots as the previous one—after all, you can consider sex as another aerobic exercise. A team of scientists at McGill University in Canada found a link between brain cell growth in the hippocampus and sex.
The study showed that women who had sex more frequently could better recall abstract words. Scientists suggest that sex promotes the growth of new neurons, which in its turn can ease mental conditions (e.g. stress, depression) that impact memory.
Not only does lack of sleep make you weak and tired, it can also dramatically affect your memory state. The thing is, the transformation from short-term memories into long-term memories happens in your hippocampus during your sleep. At night, you pass several sleep stages, and each of them plays their special role in processing the new information you got during the day and converting the most important pieces into memories.
That is why your goal is not only to get some sleep but to get plenty of high-quality sleep. It means you need to have the opportunity to sleep for a sufficient amount of time in a quiet place so that your mind does its job properly. During sleep, your body will repair itself, and your brain will organize your memories so that you can keep them longer and “take them out” when you need them.
At the same time, sleep deprivation can turn all the newly received information into havoc, and that will also have an adverse effect on your ability to understand and remember everything that is going on with you on the following day.
As you can see, it is much easier to prevent the process of memory loss than trying to solve the problem when it has already happened. However, a normal healthy lifestyle is quite enough to do it: eat well, stay active, do not forget to get enough sleep, and, of course, stay positive. Just do not be a couch potato, and you will be able to get the best from cannabis and forget about its possible side-effects.