Skip to main content
Does CBD counteract THC?

Does CBD Counteract THC's Psychological Effects?

In a serendipitous twist, it seems that CBD does indeed, as many have suspected, act as an antidote of sorts for the psychoactive effects of THC. That is according to a brand new study by neuroscientists at Indiana University.

Past research has suggested that smoking pot or using high-THC cannabis in other ways during adolescence may be a risk factor in developing schizophrenia. The study showed that heavy cannabis use at age 18 correlated with a sixfold increase in behavioral anomalies associated with schizophrenia. However, this latest study seems to suggest that CBD counteracts the psychological effects brought on by THC use - both in the short term and longer term.

The study was authored by Dr. Ken Mackie, professor in the IU College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, and director of the Linda and Jack Gill Center for Biomolecular Science at IU Bloomington.

"This is the first study in a rigorously controlled animal model to find that CBD appears to protect the brain against the negative effects of chronic THC," Mackie said. "This is especially important since heavy use of cannabis with higher levels of THC poses a serious risk to adolescents."

The study divided adolescent and adult male mice into five groups. Three groups received 3 milligrams per kilogram of body weight of either THC only, CBD only, or THC with CBD every day for three weeks. The other two groups received a placebo or no treatment. All mice were then tested for symptoms such as memory loss, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and anxiety immediately following treatment and then again six weeks after treatment.

Immediately after treatment, mice exposed to THC alone showed signs of impaired memory and increased obsessive-compulsive behavior. Adolescent mice continued to experience a range of effects six weeks after treatment. Although the adult THC-only group did not show signs of memory loss or obsessive behavior after six weeks, they did, however, show a continued increase in anxiety. The group that received CBD alone, on the other hand, showed no behavioral changes either immediately after treatment or six weeks later.

Most strikingly, mice in all age groups which received both CBD with THC exhibited no short- or long-term behavioral changes. These results suggest that cannabis strains containing similar amounts of CBD and THC may be less harmful than high-THC strains.

"This study confirms in an animal model that high-THC cannabis use by adolescents may have long-lasting behavioral effects. It also suggests that strains of cannabis with similar levels of CBD and THC would pose significantly less long-term risk due to CBD's protective effect against THC."

Because a cannabis plant produces a limited amount of cannabinoids, plants that are high in THC are generally low in CBD, and vice versa. There are also modern hybrids which have a more balanced THC to CBD ratio.