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Marijuana May Reduce Brain Damage Caused By Alcohol: Study

By on September 12, 2013
Chemicals in marijuana have powerful antioxidant properties, which scientists believe can protect the brain from damage. (Photo: Addiction Treatment)

Chemicals in marijuana have powerful antioxidant properties, which scientists believe can protect the brain from damage. (Photo: Addiction Treatment) – Too much alcohol can lead to permanent brain damage, but a new study suggests marijuana may be able to prevent this.

Published last week in the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, scientists from the University of Kentucky and University of Maryland concluded that a chemical in marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD) could be used to ward off alcohol-induced brain damage.

They hope the findings will bring them closer to developing a preventative treatment for patients suffering from alcoholism.

“These results justify further preclinical development of transdermal CBD for the treatment of alcohol-induced neurodegeneration.”

Like THC, CBD is another chemical found in marijuana – but CBD cannot get you high. However, both chemicals are strong antioxidants – a characteristic the authors believe to be responsible for reducing brain damage from alcohol.

“It has been suggested that the neuroprotective effects of CBD observed during binge alcohol induced neurodegeneration are due to its high antioxidant capacity.”

The authors also note that CBD acts as a stronger antioxidant than many well-known antioxidants – including BHT and α-tocopherol (vitamin E)

In the new study, researchers tested CBD treatment on rat models using both a skin patch (transdermal) and regular needle injection (intraperitoneal). Both methods appeared to produce “similar magnitudes of neuroprotection” – approximately 50 per cent, according to their analysis.

“Interestingly, this study showed that transdermal and IP [intraperitoneal] delivery of CBD produced similar magnitudes of neuroprotection.”

Although further studies need to be done before human trials begin, the researchers state that – while treatments for alcoholism do exist – none have yet to target the neurodegenerative effects of alcohol.

The neurodegenerative effects are believed to contribute to alcohol dependence by impairing behavioural control and decision making.

Studies show about 8.5% of the U.S. population may be suffering from alcohol dependence, suggesting that many stand to benefit from this new potential treatment.

The study was published ahead of print and received funding from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation.

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  • Fleb Flebbers

    This would be interesting if alcohol actually damaged the brain. The premise is phony.

    • Fleb Flebbers is an idiot


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    if this proves to be true, it would be a great victory for cannabis and alcohol dependence

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  • Arnaldo Cruz Igartua

    Marihuana is not CBD. As gasoline is not raw petroleum or an orange seed or orange juice is not an orange; the purified extracted or synthesized CBD or THC are not Marihuana. Raw Marihuana is a name given to a vast number of different inbreedings of two main varieties of cannabis: Sativa and Indica. Each plant is composed of about 500 different compounds (over 4000 if smoked similar or worse than tobacco) in different concentrations on each different strain and each plant including about 100 different cannabinoids on different concentrations depending on the part of the plant that is extracted and on the method and quality of extraction. The THC content of both “medical” and illegal marijuana obtained easily in the dispensaries were legalized and in the illegal market had increased 300% in last 20 years (ref 1) There may be several explanations (but no scientific justification) on not using correct terminology and scientific honesty when taking about cannabis or cannabinoids as if they were the same but is dangerous and confusing. The use of cannabis and the addiction to cannabis has increased 100% in last ten years in USA (ref3). Also the visits to emergency departments with cannabis intoxication has increased 100% in places that is legalized to use. Raw cannabis or marijuana had shown a lot of cumulative toxic effects on human body systems specially in child’s brain. Also at this time had not shown to be effective in treating any physical or mental disorder (ref 4). On the other hand purified extracted CBD is legal to use as food supplement, is not addictive and is not marihuana. CBD is being studied for several medical and psychiatric illness and has a future in medicine ( Ref 5). Some other purified cannabinoids may also have medicine applications but are not cannabis. Please be careful and clarify this great differences. The National Institute of Medicine of the United States clarifies that purified cannabinoids are not cannabis (marihuana) and raw and smoked marijuana should not be classified as a medicine. Cannabinoids are not marijuana and some are studied in experimental protocols to assess their potential medical uses.
    “If there is any future for marijuana as medicine is in its isolated components, the cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives. Isolated cannabinoids provide more reliable effects than mixtures of raw vegetables. Therefore, the purpose of clinical trials smoked marijuana would not be to develop marijuana as a licensed drug but rather to serve as a first step towards the development of non smoked cannabinoid and rapid effect. (Ref.6)

    1. Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use Nora D. Volkow, M.D. Etal, N Engl J Med 2014;370:2219-27. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMra1402309
    2. Drug Facts: Marijuana”, NIH and National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA), Revised September 2015
    3. Prevalence of Marijuana Use Among U.S. Adults Doubles Over Past Decade”; National Institute of Health (NIH); October 21, 2015
    4. Narrative review of the safety and efficacy of marijuana for the treatment of commonly state-approved medical and psychiatric disorders Katherine A Belendiuk et al.; Belendiuk et al. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice (2015)
    5. Medical Marijuana: The State of the Science Michael E. Schatman, PhD, February 06, 2015 Medscape Neurology
    6. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the science base; Institute of Medicine Preface ix In Joy JE, JA Benson, SJ Watson, eds, Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine, National Academy Press, 1999.

    Thanks; A Cruz Igartua

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