A new study suggests that certain compounds in cannabis (Marijuana) may actually protect the human brain from damages caused by alcohol-induced toxicity. This new data comes from a clinical trial published in the online journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology.
According to a press release at the website eNews Park Forest, investigators at the University of California at San Diego examined effects to portions of the brain consisting of white matter in adolescents with histories of binge drinking and marijuana use. The results of the observation yielded some fascinating, though somewhat unexpected results: though young males who consumed five or more drinks in one sitting, as well as girls who consumed four or more drinks under similar circumstances, showed signs of white matter damage in eight separate regions of the brain, those who incorporated marijuana use fared better, with less damage in seven out of the eight brain regions examined. This suggests the possibility that marijuana “may have some neuroprotective properties in mitigating alcohol-related oxidative stress or excitotoxic cell death,” the report concludes.
One might easily assume, especially with the present demonization of marijuana in the United States, that this study was intended to discover additional damages Marijuana may have on the human brain in conjunction with heavy alcohol consumption. However, this isn’t the first time that neuroprotective properties have been observed in cannabis administration. In 2005, researchers at the National Institutes of Mental Health found that alcohol-induced cell death could be reduced by as much as 60 percent by administering non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD, likely administered in pill form). Both the hippocampus and etorhinal cortex of the brain experienced less damage in the study.
In addition to these more recent findings, cannabis is known to have curative effects with regard to treating a variety of diseases and other conditions that affect human eye sight, especially glaucoma. Also, effective treatments for diseases ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s may be feasible through properly synthesizing THC, the main active psychoactive ingredient in Marijuana. Although evidence suggests that long-term use could lead to memory loss and even some forms of psychosis, it seems that the case with Cannabis is likely the same as with all things (and spirits no less): they may have pleasant, beneficial effects if used responsibly and in proper moderation. The problem is, with the present political views held toward Marijuana use in the United States, will the potential benefits ever be recognized and made available to the public, or are we destined to continue stifling medicinal uses for Cannabis based on the excessive prohibition that it, much like alcohol, has received from past to present?