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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
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Tel Aviv U Researcher Says Marijuana Can Halt Brain Damage

Marijuana is known to have therapeutic qualities. A Tel Aviv Univ. professor now says a very low dosage of grass also can prevent brain damage. A new study may reach the same conclusion for the heart.
Marijuana has been discovered by a University of Tel Aviv researchers to be able to prevent brain damage

Marijuana has been discovered by a University of Tel Aviv researchers to be able to prevent brain damage
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Extremely low doses of marijuana’s psychoactive component can protect the brain before and after injury, according to Tel Aviv University Prof. Yosef Sarne.

Medical cannabis is often used by sufferers of chronic ailments, including cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder, to combat pain, insomnia, lack of appetite, and other symptoms but has not been  identified as being able to prevent damage to the body.

Prof. Sarne of the Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases says that the drug has neuroprotective qualities and that extremely low doses of THC –  the psychoactive component of marijuana – protects the brain from long-term cognitive damage in the wake of injury from lack of oxygen, seizures, or toxic drugs. Brain damage can have consequences ranging from mild cognitive deficits to severe neurological damage.

Previous studies focused on injecting high doses of THC within a very short time frame of approximately 30 minutes  before or after injury. Prof. Sarne’s current research, published in the journals Behavioural Brain Research and Experimental Brain Research, demonstrates that even extremely low doses of THC around 1,000 to 10,000 times less than that in a conventional marijuana cigarette and administered over a wide window of up to seven days before or one to three days after injury can jumpstart biochemical processes which protect brain cells and preserve cognitive function over time.

This treatment, especially in light of the long time frame for administration and the low dosage, could be applicable to many cases of brain injury and be safer over time, Prof. Sarne says.

In the lab, the researchers injected mice with a single low dose of THC either before or after exposing them to brain trauma. A control group of mice sustained brain injury but did not receive the THC treatment. When the mice were examined three to seven weeks after initial injury, recipients of the THC treatment performed better in behavioral tests measuring learning and memory. Additionally, biochemical studies showed heightened amounts of neuroprotective chemicals in the treatment group compared to the control group.

The use of THC can prevent long-term cognitive damage that results from brain injury, the researchers conclude. One explanation for this effect is pre- and post-conditioning, whereby the drug causes minute damage to the brain to build resistance and trigger protective measures in the face of much more severe injury, explains Prof. Sarne. The low dosage of THC is crucial to initiating this process without causing too much initial damage.

According to Prof. Sarne, there are several practical benefits to this treatment plan.

Due to the long therapeutic time window, this treatment can be used not only to treat injury after the fact, but also to prevent injury that might occur in the future.

For example, cardiopulmonary heart-lung machines used in open heart surgery carry the risk of interrupting the blood supply to the brain, and the drug can be delivered beforehand as a preventive measure. In addition, the low dosage makes it safe for regular use in patients at constant risk of brain injury, such as epileptics or people at a high risk of heart attack.

Prof. Sarne is now working in collaboration with Prof. Edith Hochhauser of the Rabin Medical Center to test the ability of low doses of THC to prevent damage to the heart.

Preliminary results indicate that they will find the same protective phenomenon in relation to cardiac ischemia, in which the heart muscle receives insufficient blood flow.

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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5 Responses to “Tel Aviv U Researcher Says Marijuana Can Halt Brain Damage”

  1. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    I wonder if this is covered by BDS and all the Jew haters must now abandon using pot for all reasons. Let's understand: If the Jews ok pot, then it must be banned.

  2. Anonymous says:

    WARNING – WARNING– DOEN’T THINK THIS IS A LICENSE TO USE MARIJUANA. The scientifically measured amounts and effects are done on a VERY SMALL amount. Research may show an increase of serotonin activity with a very small dose BUT THAT CHANGES VERY QUICKLY TO HARMFUL AND TOXIC EFFECTS WHEN INCREASED. Marijuana today is 6 to 20+ times more potent than in the past causing numerous addictions, psychological and health issues. Due to the nature of the drug, these issues are not always readily apparent. The THC (active substance) builds up in the fat tissue and can take up to 2 years to be eliminated from the body.
    I am an Addictions’ Councillor and deal with Marijuana users first hand. Many of the users of past years suffer today from low level depression, depression, bi-polar disorder etc. Today’s more potent marijuana issues include triggering disorders such as schizophrenia etc.
    The studies may show that there is an increase of serotonin at very small levels of the drug Marijuana, but then what happens is the body then learns to SHUT DOWN the production of serotonin causing the damaging effects mentioned above. The bodies serotonin production becomes compromised and can s sometimes this can only be compensated for with supplemental medication.
    Addictions' Councillor

  3. René Martin says:

    What a pathetic comment, it's right on par with the demand that Stephen Hawking stops using his voice generator because he refused to attend a conference in Israel. But please keep it coming Arie, it will only increase the disgust for Israel and its apologists. Or in your case, the disgust for Jews in general, because you do not seem to understand that not all Jews live in Israel, and even not than not all Jews in Israel approve of the policies of their government.

  4. You are correct that the doses used by the researchers in this article are much lower than what you'd normally consume by smoking/vaporizing/eating cannabis or its concentrates.

    It's true that in general, cannabis potency has increased due to better methods of breeding and improvements in indoor lighting technology, but to say that there were never any high quality cannabis, nor concentrates like hash, is just flat out wrong. In fact, many cultures only consume high-concentration products like hash or loose keif, rather than whole-plant cannabis. I hope you can provide some kind of peer reviewed evidence for your claim that 'the bodies serotonin production becomes compromised and [sic] sometimes this can only be compensated for with supplemental medication.'

    Your claim that "Today's more potent marijuana issues include triggering disorders such as schizophrenia" are quite exaggerated. The study that made that claim was very specific in that only an incredibly small proportion of people who are at risk for schizophrenia (an incredibly small proportion of the population of the USA) AND who use cannabis at all (an incredibly small number of people) are vulnerable to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. PLEASE get your facts straight before spouting anti-cannabis and pro-keep-your-job drivel.

    Cannabis is non-toxic. It cannot kill you or make you sick (though sometimes if you eat too much it can cause nausea rather than quell it). There are dependency issues, but as far as addiction goes, cannabis is no worse for you than caffeine.

    As well, the vast majority of cannabis consumers do so only on occasion (a few times a month/year), rather than every day.

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