A common myth in popular culture is that marijuana destroys brain cells. However, the available evidence indicates that marijuana abuse can cause short term impairments in cognitive function for some patients. At the same time, there is conclusive evidence that some marijuana extracts can enhance cognitive ability. Cannabidiol and some other cannabis products are effective in managing several psychological and neurological disorders.
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Most of the knowledge available to the average citizen is not of the highest quality because it is often obtained from the popular media. These sources are often biased and unreliable because the people who create the content are more interested in appealing to their audience rather than spreading factual information. For example, outrageous claims have been made about marijuana in the past, such as that it leads to violence or devil worship, but medical professionals do not endorse these assertions.
For research evidence or medical reports to be considered valid, they must satisfy some conditions. The researchers should be of high academic standing and broad experience. They should not be connected to organizations with vested interests in the results to avoid conflict of interest. For instance, the results of a study sponsored by psychiatric agencies on the negative effects of marijuana should be taken with a bit of skepticism.
Another issue is the skewed nature of existing marijuana research. Majority of the researchers focus on the recreational strain of marijuana developed to achieve maximum THC content. For example, there is an Australian monotonic strain with a THC content of 30%. Most of these strains are made in the black-market using methods that are primitive by today’s genetic standards.
Most of the existing research evaluate marijuana compounds in isolation. However, the biological effects of these compounds differ from the results of in vitro studies because living organisms have complex metabolisms. This means that lab studies conducted by ethical researchers do not reflect the real-life effects of a substance.
Marijuana Has Several Active Compounds
Marijuana studies have demonstrated that the plant contains dozens of terpenes, cannabinoids, flavonoids, sterols, essential amino acids, and fatty acids. There are hundreds of strains, each with different compositions of active compounds. However, medical studies focus on THC due to its abundance and psychoactive nature while ignoring other non-psychoactive compounds with many medical benefits, such as cannabidiol and terpenes.
Top marijuana researchers have classified the most popular strains into three functional groups of:
- High THC (20%+), low cannabinoids (<2%), psychoactive
- Balanced THC-CBD (THC 8-12%, CBD 8-12%), moderately psychoactive
- High CBD and other cannabinoids, low THC (CBD 8-20%, THC,3%), non-psychoactive, medicinal
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Can Weed Cause Brain Damage, Long Term Effects, Short Term Effects Facts
Most people in mainstream media and politics will claim that marijuana causes permanent brain damage without providing any evidence to back their claims. However, recent studies have demonstrated that brain cells do regenerate in adulthood and that they continue growing throughout an individual’s life. What’s more, various hormones, nutrients, and compounds, including cannabidiol stimulate brain cell growth.
Studies on rats showed that treatment with a synthetic cannabidiol promoted neurogenesis and induced antidepressant and anxiolytic action. Both vertebrates and invertebrates have an endocannabinoid system comprising of four parts. Of note are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors exist in the peripheral tissues and the brain and contribute to most of the psychoactive effects of THC. CB2 receptors are involved in moderating the psychoactive effects.
Endocannabinoids are involved in most cognitive processes such as memory, sensory processing, concentration, appetite, and pleasure regulation. The cannabinoid signaling system plays an important role in neural regeneration, brain growth, cell growth and proliferation, and cell motility and differentiation. Cannabinoids also manifest neuroprotective qualities in the brain by reducing the severity of damage caused by blood flow and other mechanical functions. One Italian study demonstrated that the cannabinoid CBC improves brain function and stimulates the development of brain cells in rodents.
Medical Marijuana Can Help Manage Several Health Conditions
Some strains of marijuana were used in folk medicine to manage mood disorders and stress therapy for women due to their moderate medicinal and psychoactive qualities. Today balanced CBD strains are used on anxiety patients. A 2012 clinical study found that that cannabinoids have potential applications in the treatment of stress-induced disorders. They work by modulating the activities of receptors, which control fear.
Several studies and clinical trials on animal and human subjects have demonstrated that THC has the potential to shrink brain tumors. Studies on human participants showed that THC killed tumor cells while preserving healthy brain tissue.
The ability of marijuana to restore damaged brain cells and improve their functionality has found applications in the management of Alzheimer patients. Marijuana produced positive results on Alzheimer patients as well as those with Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. It is possible that the anti-inflammation effects of cannabidiols caused the improvement of brain disorders.
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Can Weed Cause Brain Damage?
Medical cannabis does not cause brain damage as long as the patient follows the doctor’s recommendation. However, just like any other drug, chronic abuse of marijuana can cause health problems, including brain disorders since marijuana is a psychoactive substance.