Sunday, May 26th, 2019

7 Ways Cannabis Can Protect The Brain

Published on January 9, 2017 by   ·   No Comments

7-surprising-ways-cannabis-can-protect-the-brain

Mary Biles/Wake Up World

Cannabis kills brain cells, right? Think again…

It’s true, most of us can think of at least one committed stoner with a memory of a goldfish and a vacant, thousand yard stare. So it may seem counter-intuitive to suggest that the cannabis plant can actually protect the brain and prevent certain neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s from forming.

And yet, even though the US government officially denies any such therapeutic use of cannabis, it has taken out a patent on cannabinoids saying they ‘are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia’.

So, instead of damaging memory it would seem that cannabis could actually do quite the opposite, and even protect against age related memory loss and dementia.

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) – a therapeutic target:

Scientists have known for some time that the body’s Endocannabinoid System – the complex network of chemical compounds and receptors found throughout the central nervous (CB1) and the immune system (CB2) – is directly involved in the mechanisms of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  An increased CB2 expression (1) found in post-mortem brains Alzheimer’s patients has been thought to be the ECS’s attempt to counteract the chronic inflammation found in the disease, while in another study (2) on Alzheimer’s patients, reduced levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide were found, although conversely were elevated in Parkinson’s disease (3).

Researchers believe then that by targeting the Endocannabinoid system, therapeutic answers can be found for many of the neurodegenerative diseases affecting people in the 21st century. And much research is being carried out into how phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD can not only treat disease progression, but also even prevent certain neurodegenerative disorders from happening.

So why exactly is cannabis being posited as the brain protector of the future?

1. Cannabis protects the brain by reducing inflammation

It’s commonly held that chronic inflammation is at the root of many illnesses, including Alzheimer’s. Although it still remains unclear whether inflammation is a by product or a direct contributing factor, bringing an excessive inflammatory response into balance again, is generally believed to be of benefit.

Gary Wenk, PhD, professor of neuroscience, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University, has studied how to combat brain inflammation for over 25 years. He says, ‘PET imaging studies of humans have shown that after age thirty the brain gradually displays increasing evidence of inflammation. With advancing age, brain inflammation continues to worsen leading to a decline in the production of new neurons, called neurogenesis, that are important for making new memories’.

He coined the phrase ‘one puff is enough’ after suggesting that ingesting small amounts of cannabis over years can be enough to protect the brain against inflammation, saying ‘the evidence available from studies of humans and animal models of Alzheimer’s disease do indicate that long-term, low-dose daily exposure, during mid-life, to the complex blend of compounds found in the marijuana plant can effectively slow the brain processes underlying Alzheimer’s disease’.

2. Cannabis is a powerful antioxidant protecting against toxic build up in the brain

As well as patenting Cannabinoids as neuroprotectants, the US government also named them antioxidants. But the two qualities are indelibly linked.

An ageing brain has a tendency to accumulate excessive levels of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that is involved with nerve cell signalling. This can lead to glutamate toxicity, an overstimulation of the cell and ultimately cell death. When glutamate causes cellular damage, it becomes an excitotoxin. Excitotoxicity is viewed as a potential cause of many neurodegenerative diseases of the central nervous system, as well as strokes and hearing loss.

In one study (4) carried out on rats, the cannabinoid Cannabidiol was ‘was demonstrated to reduce hydroperoxide toxicity in neurons. In a head to head trial of the abilities of various antioxidants to prevent glutamate toxicity, cannabidiol was superior to both alpha-tocopherol and ascorbate in protective capacity.’  And in another, (5) THC was shown to reduce the levels of glutamate in the brain following a traumatic brain injury.

An additional age related toxicity that researchers believe may bring about the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is excessive levels of iron in the body.

Researchers from Pontifical Catholic University in Brazil (6) examined the relationship between high levels of iron and cell death in neurodegenerative diseases. In particular they studied the potential use of CBD, which they found may protect the rapid cell death associated with iron.

3. Cannabis helps promote new brain cell growth

This is the one that really stops people in their tracks. Surely cannabis kills off brain cells, right? While it’s true in young, adolescent brains, cannabis can have a negative effect on brain development, scientists do know that the Endocannabinoid system is closely linked with the process of adult neurogenesis (brain cell growth).

Once again mice were the subjects of research (7) that showed the administration of plant cannabinoids promoted hippocampal neurogenesis – new cell growth in the region of the brain associated both with memory and learning – but also depression and anxiety.

In a follow on study (8) by the University of Saskatchewan, researchers sought to find out whether this hippocampal neurogenesis could explain the apparent anti anxiety and antidepressant effects of cannabinoids. Using a synthetic cannabinoid called HU-210 on rats, they found it gave rise to both the growth of ‘newborn neurons’ in the hippocampal area but also reduced anxiety and depression like behaviour in the animal subjects.

Thus showing that ‘cannabinoids appear to be the only illicit drug whose capacity to produce increased hippocampal newborn neurons is positively correlated with its anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects’.

Read More HERE

Share the Truth:
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Global Grind
  • MySpace
  • Ping.fm
  • Tumblr
  • email

Readers Comments (0)




Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Daily News and Blogs

Listen to the TIS Network on blogtalkradio.com

Check Out Pop Culture Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with TIS Network on BlogTalkRadio

Like us on Facebook

Advertise Here

Advertise Here