Does Marijuana Really Kill Brain Cells?
At one point or another everyone has heard the lie that cannabis use kills brain cells. Cannabis killing brain cells is one of the most common, and most troubling myths surrounding the use of marijuana. That is what most people have heard, and most people think about the topic, but in actuality, that could not be farther from the truth. The fact is cannabis, and more specifically the cannabinoids contained in it, are neuroprotective. That means that the use of cannabis prevents neuronal cell death, which can, in turn, have some benefits to the user.
Each year there are around 80,000 cases of traumatic brain injury that lead to disability in the United States. These disabilities can leave individuals more susceptive to stroke due to the traumatic brain injuries and can make that person open to some other brain-related traumas. The cannabinoids contained inside cannabis can decrease the likelihood of this happening. By preventing further neuronal cell death, marijuana can help to reduce the impact of these injuries on the brain.
During any episode in which there is reduced blood flow to the brain, large quantities of glutamate are released. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter, and the release of excess amounts of it hurt the brain in a couple of different ways. It over stimulates the receptors in the brain which causes the neuronal death of brain cells. This results in metabolic stress and causes toxic levels of calcium in the cells. This glutamate toxicity can be prevented by antioxidants such as THC, Cannabidiol, and other cannabinoids. These cannabinoids have been shown to limit the damage caused by the brain injury by stopping the loss of more cells, as well as activating cannabinoid receptors which can prevent glutamate toxicity by reducing calcium build up.
Cannabinoids are not just derived from the cannabis plant, but also produced by the human body. The endogenous cannabinoid that is produced by our bodies has been shown to reduce glutamate levels, decrease free radicals, decrease the tumor necrosis factor and increase blood flow to the brain. All of these factors contribute to limiting cellular damage due to an injury in the brain. As stated earlier, the cannabinoids in cannabis also block the overproduction of glutamate, which prevents those toxic levels from being present and causing more brain damage.
The medical benefits of cannabis cannot be ignored. For far too long, politicians and others in charge have given cannabis a negative “stigma” because of the lie that it “kills brain cells”. Science has shown that cannabis can be an alternative to opiates, can be used to treat ADD, ADHD, autism, and also help with some symptoms of PTSD. It is time to start making these benefits more apparent to the public. For too long, cannabis has not been available to those that can benefit from it, and it is time for that to change.
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