Research suggests a direct role of marijuana compounds in treating traumatic brain injuries.
The activity of marijuana may help repair the brain after traumatic injury, according to new research from Spain.
Scientists found that pathways in the brain associated with marijuana (cannabinoid receptors) were also responsible for the effects of a chemical called minocycline.
The results were released last week in the Oxford journal Cerebral Cortex.
“Our findings confirm that minocycline decreases brain damage caused by traumatic brain injury… the activation of cannabinoid receptors is required for the neuroprotective actions of this compound.”
Inflammation is believed to contribute to brain damage that occurs after a head injury. Earlier studies show that minocycline can protect against this damage.
However, when researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid gave minocycline along with chemicals that block the activity of cannabinoid receptors, its protective effects were prevented.
Interestingly, other studies suggest that marijuana may play a direct role in protecting against brain damage – including research by Professor Yosef Sarne of Israel’s Tel Aviv University.
While still in its early stages, Prof. Sarne told Science Daily that the main chemical in marijuana, THC, showed incredible promise.
“THC could be applicable to many cases of brain injury and be safer over time.”
THC’s anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are thought to protect the brain from further damage following injury.
While THC is also responsible for the marijuana high, Prof. Sarne found it offered significant protection at doses 1,000 to 10,000 times less than that in an average marijuana joint.
The study was supported by GRUPOS UCM-BSCH 951579; Delegación del Gobierno para el Plan Nacional sobre Drogas; Instituto de Salud Carlos III; Redes temáticas de Investigación Cooperativa en salud, Red de Trastornos Adictivos; Ministerio de Economía y Competividad, Spain, and the nonprofitable organization Fondation des Gueules cassées.