19 February 2015

Ways Cannabis is Good for Your Brain

It's not about getting 'high', cannabis could save your life!
Modern research is showing that cannabis extracts protect and benefit the human brain in amazing ways. Scientists are showing that cannabis actually helps to keep your brain safe from disease, dementia and even death!

Cannabis promotes new brain cell growth
US government scare campaigns claim cannabis kills brain cells, but the truth is studies done in the 1970's involving strapping a gas mask onto a monkey and pumping hundreds of joints worth of smoke into it resulted in the monkeys suffering from lack of oxygen and their brain cells died. Now completely discredited, the Dr Heath/Tulane Study of 1974 was the basis for US government booklets and sponsored anti-cannabis propaganda literature.

In 1974, then California Governor Ronald Reagan was asked about decriminalising 'marijuana'. After producing the Heath/Tulane University study, the so-called "Great Communicator" told the national press, "The most reliable scientific sources say permanent brain damage is one of the inevitable results of the use of 'marijuana'" (LA Times). Ronald Reagan's pronouncement was probably based on the fact that cannabis smoking was the only difference in the two sets of monkeys. Perhaps Reagan trusted the federal research, therefore reflecting a real health hazard to humans. Perhaps he had other motives. In 1980, Playboy and NORML finally received, after six years of requests and suing the US Government, an accurate account of the research procedures used in the famous report. When NORML/Playboy hired researchers to examine the reported results against the actual methodology, they laughed. They discovered that Heath had completely omitted, among other things, the carbon monoxide the monkeys inhaled during the 63 joints in five minutes; carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that kills brain cells and is given off by any burning object. All researchers found the cannabis findings in Heath's experiment to be of no value. The Heath Monkey study was actually a study in animal asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning.
An excerpt from "The Emperor Wears No Clothes", by Jack Herer [ pp 77]
When U.S. government sponsored marijuana research prior to 1976 indicated that pot was harmless or beneficial, the methodology of how the studies were done was always presented in detail in the reports; e.g., read "The Therapeutic Potential of Marijuana" (1976) and you will see exactly what the methodology of each medical study was. However, when our government bureaucrats deliberately sponsored negative marijuana research, time and time again Playboy magazine and/or NORML, High times, etc. had to sue under the new Freedom of Information Act to find out the actual methods employed.
Modern research is now proving the active ingredients in cannabis spur the growth of new brain cells! Back in 2005, Dr Xia Zhang at the University of Saskatchewan showed that cannabinoids cause “neurogenesis”, which means they help make new brain cells grow!

Most ‘drugs of abuse’ suppress neurogenesis,” said Dr Zhang. “Only 'marijuana' promotes neurogenesis”. Scientists in Brazil expanded on this research, demonstrating in 2013 that CBD, another compound in cannabis, also causes new brain cells to sprout. Researchers in Italy then produced the same result with CBC, another cannabinoid found in cannabis resin. Now there is no doubt that cannabinoids cause new brain cells to grow in the hippocampus. This helps explain previous research showing that cannabinoids effectively treat mood disorders like depression, anxiety and stress, they are all related to a lack of adult neurogenesis.

Cannabis prevents Alzheimer’s
As many as 5 million Americans (over 65) suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease and over 300,000 Australians suffer from dementia, but there’s hope in sight. Modern research shows that using cannabis helps prevent the incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia by cleaning away beta-amyloid “brain plaque”. A 2014 study into cannabis and Alzheimer’s found that “THC could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer's disease through multiple functions and pathways” confirming earlier studies which found that THC “simultaneously treated both the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer’s disease”. One 2008 study concluded that, “compared to currently approved drugs prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, THC is considerably superior”. These studies used very low levels of THC to find these results, the levels you might find in a moderate cannabis user. So where’s the mainstream media headlines from 2008 and 2014 saying “Cannabis Prevents Alzheimer’s”?

Cannabis prevents brain damage after strokes and trauma
A study done in 2012 (Long-term behavioural and biochemical effects of an ultra-low dose of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): neuroprotection and ERK signaling) found that low dose THC protected mice brains from damage by carbon monoxide and head trauma. Researchers found that THC “protected brain cells and preserved cognitive function over time” and suggested that it could be used as a preventative and for ongoing protection. A 2014 study (published in October) found that people with low amounts of THC in their system were about 80% less likely to die from serious head injuries than those without. This last study is actually quite remarkable and should have been headline news. This means that in a group of occasional cannabis users and a group of abstainers who suffer similar brain injuries, the cannabis users will suffer only 2 deaths for every 10 suffered by the abstainers! There are approximately 53,000 deaths every year from traumatic head injury in America (in Australia, Acquired Brain Injury affects over 600,000; and three out of four sufferers are under 65 years). The US study showed that if every adult American had a puff of cannabis once a week, 20% of those deaths would be avoided, that’s about 41,600 lives that could be saved, every year. Why isn’t this world-wide front page news? And there's plenty of other research available on cannabis and brain trauma.

Cannabis extracts treat brain cancer
Another exciting use of cannabinoids is in the treatment of cancer. Repeated laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids kill cancer cells and shrink tumours, while helping to protect normal cells. Recent research includes a 2012 study showing that CBD stopped metastasis in aggressive forms of cancer; a 2013 study showing that a blend of six cannabinoids killed leukaemia cells; and a 2014 study showing that THC and CBD could be combined with traditional chemotherapy to produce “dramatic reductions” in brain tumour size. Using cannabis extracts for brain cancer is nothing new. A 1998 study found that THC “induces apoptosis [cell death] in C6 glioma cells”, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

The medicinal benefits of cannabis and cannabinoids are immense and it’s time everyone was allowed full access to this amazing healing herb. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll even get to use outdoor home-grown cannabis to produce pure, cheap cannabinoids for the millions across the world who need them ...

This article adapted from http://www.alternet.org

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