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    Thread: Cannabis Stimulates Brain Growth

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      grin Cannabis Stimulates Brain Growth

      Subject: High-dose cannabis stimulates growth of brain cells in rats

      Source: The Independent on Sunday

      Sunday 16 Oct 2005

      Author: Jeremy Laurance
      Cannabis, the third most popular recreational drug after alcohol and
      tobacco, yesterday won an unlikely accolade from scientists who said that
      it could boost brain power.

      Experiments on rats given a potent cannabinoid have shown the drug
      stimulates the growth of new brain cells. Canadian researchers found that
      the drug caused neurons to regenerate in the hippocampus, an area that
      controls mood and emotions, after one month of treatment.

      Its effect was similar to that of the antidepressant drug Prozac, which
      also stimulates nerve growth in the hippocampus. The rats were less anxious
      and more willing to eat in a novel environment that would normally make
      them fearful.

      Most drugs, including alcohol, heroin, cocaine and nicotine, have been
      shown to destroy nerve cells in the hippocampus, the researchers from the
      University of Saskatchewan, Canada, say. "The present study suggests that
      cannabinoids are the only illicit drug that can promote adult hippocampal
      neurogenesis following chronic administration," they write in the Journal
      of Clinical Investigation.

      The finding runs counter to previous research highlighting the risks of
      cannabis use, including a heightened degree of psychosis in vulnerable
      users, and an increased risk of lung cancer similar to that in tobacco
      smokers. The authors say regular cannabis users are known to suffer acute
      memory impairment, as well as dependency and withdrawal symptoms.

      The new research suggests that the size of the dose may be crucial. The
      results showed that regular injections of high, but not low, doses of the
      artificial cannabinoid HU210 were associated with anti-anxiety and
      antidepressive effects.

      "These complicated effects of high and low doses of acute and chronic
      exposure to cannabinoids may explain the seemingly conflicting results
      observed in clinical studies regarding the effects of cannabinoid on
      anxiety and depression," the scientists say.

      The study emerged from the recent discovery that, unlike other parts of the
      brain, the hippocampus can generate neurons throughout the lifespan of
      mammals, including humans.

      Natural selection has conserved cannabinoid receptors in animals that have
      been separated by evolution for 500 million years, suggesting they have an
      important biological role. Cannabinoids appear to alter the effects of
      pain, nausea, tumours, sclerosis and other disorders in both animals and
      humans, the team says.

      The experiment involved giving rats regular injections of HU210 for a
      month. At the end of this time, hungry animals showed significantly less
      reluctance to eat in a novel environment. Rats are normally neophobic -
      wary of new situations.

      Last edited by pistils; 3rd November 2005 at 04:59 PM.

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