Sunday, May 15, 2022

Does Smoking Weed Kill Your Brain Cells

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Are Changes In The Brain From Drug Use Reversible

does smoking weed kill brain cells

Certain brain changes can be persistent or permanent, but this can vary widely depending on the type of injury and the substance of abuse. Many substance-related neurological complications or consequences may also be reversible.

WKS, for instance, may present with more chronic and debilitating effects, but when caught early and with proper treatment, WKS might be reversible in certain cases. Research has shown that even people who have suffered from a stroke can make some degree of recovery. Studies have also shown that brain shrinkage and reduced white matter volume associated with alcohol abuse may be reversible.24,25,26,27

NIDA explains that some of the neurological damage to the dopaminergic system appear, at least partly, to be reversible, with many neurological markers for nerve damage returning to normal after several months of abstinence.28 The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse points out that although it can take time, most people suffering from alcohol addiction will experience at least some improvement in brain structure and functioning with abstinence.3

But Does Smoking Weed Kill Your Brain Cells

Thats another question entirely. Because despite 1970s and 1980s-era anti-drug campaigns and the occasional more recent statements of politicians and other public figures with only the loosest possible connection with fact, smoking weed doesnt kill brain cells.

In fact, in smaller doses, cannabis seems to have positive effects on the brain. This is one of the reasons why marijuana is currently being studied by so many groups around the world for its medicinal potential.

However, that isnt the end of the story. Weed has a complicated relationship with the brain. If you want to learn more about everything from the old-school weed kills brain cells myth to the actual reality of cannabiss effects on the brain, heres everything you need to know:

So Smoking Weed Kills Brain Cells

No, cannabis use does not kill brain cells. The only scientific evidence of cannabis having negative effects on brain cells is related to synthetic cannabinoids. These are things like K2 and spice.

Natural cannabinoids have actually been shown to have neuroprotective effects on the brain. This means they protect your brain cells, activating processes like anti-oxidation that are good for your brain.

Thats why various cannabinoids are being studied for potential therapeutic uses against conditions like Parkinsons Disease and Alzheimers. Other studies appear to show very low levels of THC may even have some ability to reverse memory issues caused by old age.

All of this research is definitely still at the drawing board stage. The reversal of brain age study was done on mice. But it goes to show that far from frying your brain like an egg, the effects of marijuana on brain cells are a lot more nuanced.

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How Many Brain Cells Am I Smoking Away With Every Bong Hit

It depends how old are you?

If youre a stoner, surely youve wondered, does weed kill brain cells? After all, theres no denying that your mind feels like a boiled egg after sucking on a joint.

Well, youll be relieved to learn that the simple answer is no, weed doesnt kill brain cells. At least, theres no evidence that it does, according to Adie Rae, an assistant scientist at the Legacy Research Institute in Portland, Oregon, and cofounder of Smart Cannabis, a company dedicated to identifying the worlds best cannabis flower.

On the contrary, Rae says plenty of scientific evidence suggests that cannabinoids are actually neuroprotective, which is why cannabis research is currently focused on treating Parkinsons and Alzheimers disease.

There are, however, a few caveats, one being that synthetic cannabinoids are undoubtedly neurotoxic. Moreover, Rae emphasizes that weed loses its neuroprotective abilities when ingested by someone whose brain is still developing . That doesnt mean it kills brain cells, per se, but it impedes your neurological development, which can negatively impact your reasoning and mood. Studies frequently highlight the underdevelopment of adolescent users hippocampus, a region of the brain that plays a major role in learning and memory.

Still, we can relatively safely conclude that so long as your brain is developed and youre not smoking constantly, youll be more or less okay.

Signs Of Marijuana Addiction

Does Smoking Marijuana Kill Brain Cells?

Perhaps you are reading this because you Googled does smoking weed really kill brain cells, because you are worried about your marijuana use and how it is affecting your life, but are still not sure if you have a problem. If you suffer any of these signs of addiction, its time to seek help:

  • Inability to quit using

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Exhibit A: The Infamous Iq Test Study

Youre unlikely to meet a proponent of the weed kills brain cells theory that doesnt cite the following study. It was conducted in New Zealand and published in 2012, and it followed the lives of over 1,000 people and compared their IQ at the age of 13 to their IQ at the age of 38. All 1,036 subjects were actually followed from birth in what became known as the Dunedin Study.

The subjects were interviewed aged 18, 21, 26, 32, and 38, and asked about their level of cannabis use each time. The study found that the IQ of people who regularly used weed fell by 8 points on average. Pretty much everyone who hates cannabis will say, See! Theres your proof! As usual, however, they fail to dig any deeper.

As it transpired, the study had a number of flaws which prevented it from being an accurate measurement of how weed impacts the brain. For example the drop in IQ was only apparent in chronic users who had a physical dependence on the drug before the age of 18. Overall, only 38 people showed the steep drop in IQ and remember, they were using cannabis at least four days a week for over 20 years.

Furthermore, the possibility that differences in socioeconomic status could have accounted for the IQ disparity was never investigated. In other words, did these individuals drop out of school? Did they have a rough family life? Well never know.

How To Consume Cannabis The Smart Way

Moderation is the best way to ensure that you can safely enjoy marijuana and possibly even derive some brain-protecting effects. Rather than consuming cannabis daily, consider reducing your consumption and setting aside your favorite strain as a treat rather than a habit.

Choosing low-THC strains that have fewer psychoactive properties may also be a smarter way to enjoy cannabis. Some popular low-THC strains include Ringo’s Gift, Harlequin, Cannatonic, Pennywise, ACDC, and Sour Tsunami.

Finally, experimenting with smoke-free cannabis consumption methods may be better for your brain and will certainly be better for your lungs.

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What Does Marijuana Do To The Brain

Many people are now curious about how Marijuana affects their brains and whether it causes brain cell death.

Long-term Marijuana use can lead to irreversible brain damage.

This is similar to years of heavy alcohol, Meth, and Heroin abuse. The brain can be damaged by

The primary psychoactive ingredient in Marijuana is Tetrahydrocannabinol. It attaches to the brainâs Cannabinoid-receptor type 1 .

These receptors are connected to brain nerves that control memory, appetite, pain regulation, and mood.

People who smoke Marijuana may experience difficulties with concentration and recalling details.

This problem can get worse if Marijuana is used for a long time. The drug can also affect motor skills. High-functioning users can put their lives at risk by driving while high.

Scientists are still not sure of the long-term effects that Marijuana can have on the brain.

However, they have found a link between marijuana use during brain development and a lower IQ later in life.

Exposure to THC as a child can cause cognitive and memory changes that can last decades.

Adults who use Marijuana in adulthood have received less research.

Does Weed Kill Brain Cells.

Getting Help For A Marijuana Problem

Does Weed Kill Brain Cells?

Marijuana is becoming increasingly accessible as more states move to legalize medical and recreational use, and public opinions are also changing, with many believing marijuana is harmless. This is not necessarily true, and there are some studies that indicate that marijuana use can negatively impact the body and also the brain, especially for young users, heavy users, and people who are long-term users.

There are treatment centers all over the country that are equipped to help those with a marijuana use disorder overcome the problem and begin recovery. If you or someone you know is suffering from a marijuana addiction, contact a treatment center today.


  • NIDA. 2021, April 13. What are marijuana’s long-term effects on the brain?. Retrieved from on 2021, August 1

  • Batalla A, Bhattacharyya S, Yücel M, et al. Structural and functional imaging studies in chronic cannabis users: a systematic review of adolescent and adult findings. PloS One. 2013 8:e55821. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055821

  • Pagliaccio D, Barch DM, Bogdan R, et al. Shared predisposition in the association between cannabis use and subcortical brain structure. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 72:994-1001. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1054

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    Studies With Young Adults

    Almost five thousand young adults in a coronary artery risk development study were tracked over 25 years until mid-adulthood. The researchers found that lifelong appeared to have a cumulative effect and was associated with reduced scores on a verbal memory test.

    THC appears to have no direct effect on cognitive abilities like processing speed. That was a significant finding that persisted even after adjusting for demographics, other substance use, and mental health issues.

    Two longitudinal twin studies found that young twins who used marijuana showed a significant loss of verbal ability equivalent to four IQ points.

    The twins also displayed overall deficits in general knowledge. Cognitive deficiencies were observed during the preteen years, late adolescent years, and in early adulthood.

    A shorter-term twin study found no significant differences between twins when one twin used marijuana and the other twin did not.

    The Downsides Of Marijuana

    The rising prominence of medical and recreational-use marijuana has led to an erroneous belief that weed cant be harmful. Although it comparatively carries fewer risks than other substances, its by no means a safe drug. Unfortunately, those for whom marijuana poses the most risks also make up the majority of its user base. If you know a teenager or college student with an addiction, getting them help isnt just important for their physical health, but their cognitive abilities as well. Learn more about addiction resources for college students and how you can help.

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    Effects Of Synthetic Marijuana On The Brain

    Synthetic marijuana comes from a man-made hallucinogenic substance that is normally sprayed onto plant materials to replicate and enhance the effects of organic marijuana. Synthetic marijuana is not safe for human consumption but has become increasingly popular in recent years. The toxic components of synthetic marijuana, or fake weed, can cause increased heart rate, vomiting, bleeding, and produces powerful mind-altering effects.

    Synthetic marijuana binds to the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain as THC but far more intensely, making it at least 100 times more potent. CB1 receptors have multiple locations in the brain in both the central and peripheral nervous systems which makes the side effects of synthetic marijuana potentially intense and harmful.

    Synthetic marijuana abuse may cause:

    • Memory loss

    • Brain fog and trouble concentrating

    • Lower problem solving and critical thinking skills

    Effect Of Marijuana Use On Iq:


    The amount of Marijuana smoked and the age of the user will have an impact on how Marijuana affects the brain.

    The brain effects of Marijuana are most harmful to those under 25 whose brains are still in development.

    An analysis of Marijuanaâs effects on IQ showed that individuals who started using Marijuana as a child lost 6-8 points in their IQ by the time they reached middle age.

    Those who smoked Marijuana in their adolescence and then stopped using it did not lose their IQ points. Individuals who started using Marijuana as adults did not lose their IQ.

    Does Weed Kill Brain Cells.

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    Does Cannabis Kill Brain Cells

    Another study , this one conducted over 38 years, has linked cannabis use with cognitive decline. Findings indicated that adolescents who heavily used cannabis and continued to do so as adults lost six to eight IQ points by the time they reached midlife.

    Those who used heavily and quit later on in their lives didnt regain lost IQ points. But adults who used cannabis heavily didnt lose any IQ points.

    Other studies show the opposite. A study conducted on mice indicates that low dosages of THC can reverse age-related cognitive impairments .

    Recovery Is Tough But So Are You And Were Here To Help

    When it comes to getting treatment for addiction of any kind it can be intimidating, and there can be some hesitancy. For marijuana specifically, approximately half of the people who enter treatment for a marijuana use disorder are under 25 years old.

    Aside from being young, most of these individuals also report other problems and even some risky behaviors. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly known as the DSM, 4.3 percent of Americans have been dependent on marijuana.

    Also, 9% of those who try marijuana develop dependence. Compared to the 15% of cocaine users who develop addictions and 24% of those who use heroin, this may not seem like a lot. However, remember how many more people regularly use cannabis. This makes cannabis dependence more common than other types. Yet, we know most people never seek treatment for it. Were here to help.

    Get Help With Vertava Health And Live Your Best Life

    If you or someone you love is struggling with cannabis addiction, Vertava Health is here to help. We offer comprehensive and compassionate treatment for all types of addictions and can help guide you through the difficult portions, like withdrawal and detox.

    Theres one specific thing we use to help you, something unique: we use your strength. Your own dedication and strength are key ingredients in your own recovery. It might not feel like it, but were confident you have the power to change your life. Call us at , and we can chat about how.

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    How Does Thc Interact With Brain Cells

    The primary active ingredient in Marijuana is THC. This compound stimulates receptors in the brain and facilitates the release of dopamine, the reward chemical. Receptors throughout the brain are able to bind with THC in order to achieve the psychological effects of a Marijuana high. Brain scans show that Marijuana primarily interacts with:

    • The Cerebral Cortex: higher order thinking
    • The Hippocampus: long-term memory, short-term memory, spatial memory
    • The Nucleus Accumbens: reward system
    • The Cerebellum: voluntary movement and sensory management

    Take Action & Empower Yourself

    Does Marijuana Kill Your Brain Cells?


    While the conclusions of new research may differ, they agree that overuse of Marijuana, or any drug, is not healthy. While moderation applies to everything in life, drugs require slightly more moderation because of their tendency to cause adverse health effects. Results seem to suggest that moderate use even during development may have no detrimental effects, but waiting until a less sensitive time in mental development is advisable.

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    Bottom Line On Weed And Your Brain

    While studies have shown negative effects on the brains of frequent cannabis consumers, lower doses of THC may be beneficial.

    Because the endocannabinoid system is so involved in all of our cognitive and homeostatic processes, it’s wise to use cannabis moderately and/or take regular breaks, Rae said. She recommends at least 48 hours of abstinence at least once a month.

    This advice, however, is for adult consumers, not those whose brains are still developing. There are definitely developmental effects of cannabis on the developing brain, whether a person is in utero or in high school. The safest thing for brain health is to wait until the brain is fully developed, around age 22, before using cannabis,” said Rae.

    It would seem that, when it comes to cannabis consumption and brain health, less truly is more.

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    Does Weed Destroy Brain Cells The Takeaway

    Despite what War on Drugs campaigns of yesteryear might have you believe, weed does not destroy brain cells. At lower doses, studies even seem to show THC and other cannabinoids may be beneficial for the health of your brain, stimulating processes like anti-oxidation to improve brain function.

    But, like many things in life, problems occur when you start to go beyond moderation. Chronic cannabis use seems to be associated with having less grey matter in important regions of the brain.

    This isnt weed killing brain cells. Yet its certainly a sign that heavy daily use of marijuana is probably best avoided. This is especially true if you are younger than 22 years old and have a brain that isnt fully formed yet.

    This means that taking steps towards moderating your use of cannabis can be a smart move if you are a heavy, regular user. You might try slowly reducing your overall consumption levels, swapping your joint for a vape, or choosing a lower-THC strain as potential ways to help you do this.

    Because, as weve learned, while the histrionic drug education campaigns of forty years ago were pretty nonsensical and weed does not kill brain cells, you still want to be aiming for moderation in your cannabis consumption if you want to stay happy and healthy.

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    Top 5 Important Things To Take Away

  • Weed doesnt kill brain cells.
  • Weed causes temporary forgetfulness. It can cause a drop in IQ points.
  • Weed may cause susceptibility to psychosis for people who start smoking as children.
  • Weed can increase the risk of cardiac events in the period just after smoking and this can affect the brain
  • Weed is not known to cause excitotoxicity in the neurons or overdose fatality
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