One of the biggest myths about cannabis usage is that it causes brain damage. To this day, there is still a large percentage of people who think that medical cannabis patients are “stoners who just want to get high all the time.” This could not be further from the truth. If you look at the average Illinois medical cannabis patient, you will discover that she is a 51 year old woman with fibromyalgia, not a 25 year old unemployed lay around, living in his parents’ basement.
I will present facts that will not only dispel this myth, but will substantiate the claim that medical cannabis is actually good for your brain.
Cannabis May Protect the Brain from Chronic Stress
It’s all about cannabinoid receptor activation which treats cognitive deficits that result from stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders. In very simple terms, cannabinoids found in cannabis protect against the disorders and deficits that come with the damage to the brain due to common stress. Not only that, but a study using rats suggests that daily doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) seemed to improve short-term memory in the subjects, compared to those that were left untreated. Many people think the reverse is true, that THC causes brain damage.
Cannabinoids in Marijuana Help Your Brain Grow
Again, a long lasting myth is that smoking cannabis kills off your brain cells and makes you less smart. in fact, the opposite is true. Neurogenesis, the growth and development of nervous tissue including brain cells, can be assisted by cannabichromene (CBC), one of the lesser known cannabinoids. It can boost the growth of developing brain cells which is a key component of brain function of health. Another study indicates that cannabidiol (CBD) is a key contributor to neurogenesis.
Cannabinoids Help Fight Different Forms of Brain Cancer
A study where human tumors were introduced to mice showed that THC caused the brain cancer cells to be killed off, thereby shrinking the tumor growth. This is thanks to the cannabinoid receptors in every creature with an endocannabinoid system. In scientific terms, the destruction of brain cancer cells is precipitated by the joint reaction of CB2 and GPR55- two members of the cannabinoid receptor family.
Last but not least and the most pertinent to me as a 62 year old is the following:
Cannabis Slows Brain Aging/May Reverse Alzheimer’s Disease
It is thought possible that cannabis usage can actually reverse brain aging. By stimulating the brain’s cannabinoid receptor system, it may cause a type of anti-oxidant cleanse. As that part of the brain is activated, damaged brain cells are removed. This vastly improves the efficiency of the mitochondria (the energy that powers cells).This leads to a higher-functioning brain which in turn reduces the probability for inflammation of the brain. Inflammation is now known to be a factor in diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease. This is very exciting news since there is no prescription medication currently available that reverses brain aging.
As we baby boomers age, finding a way to maintain our brain function will be crucial to living a long and full life. It will also take the strain off our health care system by reducing the number of patients with debilitating neurological disorders.