According to a new study, chemicals in marijuana can repair and stimulate the growth of brain cells and possibly make a person smarter. This revolutionary research can possibly pave the way for a more pot friendly public. This study was published in the latest issue of the journal Neurochemistry International.
Contrary to the public’s belief, a person’s brain, in fact, does not stop growing after reaching adulthood. This is due to the process of neuroplasticity. This organic engineering process is the way in which people take in and remember information. Even more specific than that is the process of neurogenesis.
Neurogenesis is the process that is enacted by the brain to generate neurons from stem cells within itself to create a better nerro-connection within someone’s brain. This process is most prevalent during the growth of fetus.
The study revealed that a chemical substance in marijuana, cannabichromene (CBC), has the ability to spark the creation of neurons. Neural stem cells in the brain are now proven to develop into neuron connections when combined with CBC in marijuana. Moreover, the chemical was reported to ramp up the practicality of developing adult neural stem progenitor cells (NSPC) into more and better connection within the brain.
Unlike the developing brain of a pre-natal human, neurogenesis happens in one select part of brain that is most essential for learning and memory: the hippocampus. This area of the brain is also responsible for regulating the limbic system, which controls emotion. Though, the hippocampus is mainly utilized for long-term memory and also spatial navigation, which allows a person to gauge distance and differentiate between peripheral objects. Previous studies on neurons have shown that the brain is able to create nearly 5,000 new cells every day, but this number goes down as a person grows older.
The research team that conducted the study stated the stem cells that are used in the neurogenesis process are one of the most important components of the brain. Diseases like Alzheimer’s and mental illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder are most likely the result of a declining neurogenesis process.
Another study done on neuron re-growth with marijuana, published in the latest issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, suggested that CBC and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) act as an anti-oxidant cleansing for brain. The THC coats the neurons in a sort of healing blanket. This allows for the disposal of damaged cells, improving the efficiency of the brain, and making room for more neurons to be developed. The research team also found that one of the most important factors is that both chemicals in marijuana make the mitochondria in brain cells work at a faster pace, making them more energy efficient, leading to a better functioning, smarter person.
Dr. Xia Jiana conducted a similar study on the correlation between amounts of CBC and THC in the brain and neurogenesis. Jiana found that most abusive drugs like cocaine, heroin, psychedelics, and amphetamines suppress neurogenesis. However, marijuana seems to promote it.
Even though this study was done on stem cells from rodents, the researchers believe that further studies on marijuana preparation will unearth more indications that marijuana has potential benefits that can rejuvenate the growth of neurons and make people smarter. Future studies on the qualities of marijuana that make make people smarter could allow for less strict laws on the possession and use of the drug.
By Alex Lemieux
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Photo Courtesy of Alexandra Moss’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Photo Courtesy of Joseph Elsbernd’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License