Low doses of THC may protect against brain damage

Very low doses of the psychoactive component of marijuana, THC, could protect the brain from injury, according to new research from Tel Aviv University. Medical […]

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Very low doses of the psychoactive component of marijuana, THC, could protect the brain from injury, according to new research from Tel Aviv University.

Medical cannabis is often used to alleviate pain, insomnia and lack of appetite in those with chronic diseases like cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder. Now, Prof Tosef Sarne has found that THC in very low doses protects against long-term cognitive damage after brain injury.

Previous research has focused on high doses of THC injected a short time before or after injury, but this current study, published in Behavioural Brain Research and Experimental Brain Research, shows that very low doses (1,000-10,000 less than would be found in a marijuana cigarette), administered 1-7 days before or 1-3 days after brain injury may also help.

Mice were injected with a single low dose of THC before or after receiving brain trauma. 3 to 7 weeks after the injury, those who had received THC were better at tests of learning and memory than those who didn’t receive it. Their brains also produced more neuroprotective chemicals.

This effect could be due to pre- and post-conditioning, whereby the brain starts a defensive process in response to the THC. These protective measures are then present when there is more severe injury, reducing the impact of the damage. The drug dose is small enough that it doesn’t cause any initial damage, while stimulating the brain to protect against more traumatic injury.

These results mean that low doses of THC could be used as a preventative measure against future brain damage. Prof Sarne is now working with other to examine whether THC could also have a protective effect on the heart.

 

 

 

http://www.aftau.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=18625

 

Iona Twaddell

About Iona Twaddell

Iona is a third year undergraduate studying psychology at Wadham.