Dr. Adie Rae, neuroscientist and scientific adviser to 420 Vendor List, made the distinction between infrequent cannabis use and regular cannabis use, which may have very different effects on the brain. The available research supports the notion that occasional cannabis use may have neuroprotective effects on the brain, whereas the effects of frequent cannabis use are less clear but could be negative.
An overview of the research
Neuroscientist and scientific advisor Dr. Adie Rae defined the distinction between infrequent cannabis use and regular cannabis usage, noting that these may have drastically different effects on the brain. According to a study published in the journal Neurotoxicity Research, cannabis’ neuroprotective properties may be linked to its ability to stimulate cannabinoid receptors. The effects of regular cannabis use are less clear, however, they could be negative. Rae shared, “The only evidence I could find in the literature of neurotoxicity to brain cells is caused by synthetic cannabinoids (such as Spice and K2). Plant-based cannabinoids appear to do the opposite, at least in the short term.”
Research on weed usage and brain activity
Many of the cannabinoids in cannabis (particularly CBD and CBG, but also THC) are neuroprotective., according to Rae. “This implies that instead of causing cell death, they trigger beneficial cellular functions like antioxidation rather than harmful ones. Cannabis and its derivatives are attractive targets as treatments for degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s since they are neuroprotective”.
THC and CBD may be useful for people with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a literature review published in Molecular Neurobiology in 2020. A 2018 study published in Neurobiology of Aging revealed that a very small amount of injected THC may induce cognitive restoration in mice. The beneficial effects persisted for seven weeks.
On the other side, a study published in 2020 in the journal Addiction Biology revealed that the overall size of the hippocampus, which is important for memory and learning, shrinks with more frequent cannabis use. “Cannabis isn’t necessarily ‘killing’ brain cells,’” according to Rae.
Additionally, several cannabis consumers have less gray matter volume in various regions of the brain, explained by Rae. According to a study published in Neuroreport in 2020, heavy cannabis users had altered gray matter volumes. “The regions of the brain are smaller than normal, again this doesn’t imply that cannabis is ‘killing’ these brain cells, but they’re less than usual. Furthermore, chronic cannabis smoking reduces the synthesis of critical proteins that act as survival tools for neurons,” Rae explained.
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How to use cannabis sensibly
The easiest approach to keep yourself safe while using marijuana is to moderate your consumption. You may even see some brain-protecting benefits. Rather of smoking marijuana on a regular basis, consider cutting back and saving your favorite strain as a treat rather than a habit.
Choosing cannabis strains with reduced psychoactive effects may help you to relax and unwind more easily. Ringo’s Gift, Harlequin, Cannatonic, Pennywise, ACDC, and Sour Tsunami are some of the most popular low-THC strains available. Finally, switching to a smoke-free cannabis habit is probably healthier for your brain (assuming potency is low) and will undoubtedly benefit your lungs.
Although heavy cannabis users have been shown to have damaged brains, low doses of THC may be beneficial. “Because the endocannabinoid system is so involved in all of our cognitive and homeostatic functions, it’s best to use cannabis moderately and/or take regular breaks,” Rae advised. At least 48 hours of abstinence is recommended at least once a month.
However, this advice is for adult users, not children whose brains are still developing. “There are definitely developmental consequences of cannabis use on the growing brain, whether a person is in utero or in high school. The safest thing for brain health is to refrain from using cannabis until the brain has fully matured, which occurs around age 22,” Rae added.
It appears that, when it comes to cannabis use and brain health, less is definitely more.