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.
Synthetic Marijuanas Effect On The Brain
Synthetic Marijuana, a man-made Hallucinogenic substance typically sprayed onto plant material, is not safe for human consumption but has become popular in recent years. Also known as Fake Weed, it produces mind-altering effects and can cause the individual to act in an odd manner. Synthetic Marijuana is illegal and may have toxic ingredients that can cause increased heart rate, unexplained bleeding, and vomiting.
Similarly to Marijuana, Synthetic Marijuana affects the brain by attaching itself to the Cannabinoid receptor type 1 found in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Synthetic Weed binds more strongly to CB1 receptors than THC, making it at least 100 times more potent in the brain. Because CB1 receptors have multiple locations in the brain, side effects can be intense and harmful.
Synthetic Marijuana may cause the brain and body to experience:
- Memory loss
All About Marijuana And Brain Health: The Good And The Bad
Lets start by covering the basics. Most of us know by now that marijuana is a plant that occurs naturally. It is actually a plant known as cannabis. As is the case with most plants, cannabis can come in a couple of different types. The two main types of cannabis are Cannabis sativa and Cannabis sativa L.
Cannabis sativa L is the non-psychotropic, or non-mind altering, type. It is most commonly used in the materials industry. It can be used to produce oils, materials for clothes, rope, and much more. Its commonly referred to as hemp. More now than ever before, it can also be found within a variety of beauty products like lotions and shampoos. Some crafting kits even boast the inclusion of hemp string for friendship bracelets.
Part of this major uptick in the use of hemp is due to its small environmental impact compared to most synthetic materials. This actually is part of what draws people to using marijuana as well for things like anxiety or pain instead of pharmaceutical options.
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Is There A Health Downside To Cannabis
When it comes to concerns about cannabis and health, the herbs potential to be habit-forming is one of the biggest concerns for consumers, parents, and health professionals. Though, what cannabis dependence means in terms of long-term brain health is still to be determined.
Some estimates suggest that approximately 9% of cannabis consumers develop dependence, compared with 32% of tobacco smokers and 15% of alcohol consumers.
Research suggests that dopamine, the reward neurotransmitter, may be in part responsible. Alterations in the dopamine system are thought to contribute to behavioral problems.
One 2016 study suggests that cannabis can cause lasting changes to the brains reward system. To measure this, researchers performed brain scans on 59 cannabis consumers who had consumed the herb daily for the past 60 days, or at least 5,000 times in their lives.
The researchers showed the participants images of cannabis and images of other natural products, like their favorite fruit. Brain imaging found that heavy cannabis users were more likely to have a strong pleasure reaction to the cannabis than to the fruit.
The 70 individuals that did not use cannabis had a greater reward response to the fruit. According to study author Dr. Francesca Filbey, this indicates,
Synthetic Alternatives To Marijuana Are More Dangerous To The Brain Than We Realize
Synthetic marijuana is a man-made hallucinogenic substance that is typically sprayed onto plant material. These products that make up synthetic marijuana are commonly known as herbal or liquid incense and can often be found in e-cigarettes and other types of devices. Truthfully, it is not safe for human consumption but has become popular in recent years.
Also known as fake weed, K2, or spice it produces mind-altering effects and can cause the individual to act in an odd manner. Since the main ingredients in it are chemicals that impact the cannabinoid receptors, just as THC can, they are often known as fake weed and synthetic marijuana. Often it is advertised as a more powerful, safe, and legal alternative to cannabis.
Synthetic marijuana is illegal and may have toxic ingredients that can cause increased heart rate, unexplained bleeding, and vomiting. According to government sites, it is part of a new category of drugs known as new psychoactive substances or NPS.
Synthetic marijuana may cause the brain and body to experience:
- memory loss
- violent behavior
- kidney and brain damage
In addition to the above symptoms, synthetic marijuana can be addictive to individuals who take it. Regular users trying to quit may have the following withdrawal symptoms if they have been using things like spice:
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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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Origins Of The Myth Of Marijuana Killing Brain Cells
The age of prohibition in the twentieth century coincided with some wild misconceptions about smoking weed and its effects on consumers. The two most prominent contributors to ongoing misconceptions about marijuana harming the brain are Reefer Madness and the fried egg campaign.
Reefer Madness is a 1936 film that experienced a resurgence in the 1970s and depicted excessively violent events linked to marijuana use. The melodramatic scenes show young adult cannabis smokers descending into various forms of madness and hallucinations until the dire advisory flashes on the screen at the end, “TELL YOUR CHILDREN.”
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Can Weed Make You Stupid
The idea that weed makes you stupid likely originates from observation of the acute effects of large doses of pot smoke. Large doses can cause extreme sedation and couchlock. It can cause perceptual disturbances and make you slur your words. When viewing someone under the effects of extreme intoxication, it can certainly look like they have gotten really dumb. They may lose coordination and begin stumbling or experience ataxia. This is the result of the way cannabis affects cannabinoid receptors throughout the nervous system. Cannabis plants contain cannabinoids, a chemical substance that can bind to the nervous system. This substance affects several functions such as movement, pain perception, and anxiety levels. When cannabinoids enter the nervous system, it causes many symptoms attributed to the behaviors of someone with a low IQ. Symptoms such as high pain tolerance, sedation, and movement inhibition may make it seem like the intoxicated individual has less than desirable mental capacity. The anticholinergic effect is notorious for causing lapses in memory. While the symptoms may appear inherent to the individual, they are only temporary and are not the result of damaged brain cells.Figure 2.
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
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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 Ringoâs 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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An Overview Of The Research
Dr. Adie Rae, neuroscientist and scientific adviser to Weedmaps, made the distinction between infrequent cannabis use and regular cannabis use, which may have very different effects on the brain. The available research supports the notion that occasional cannabis use may have neuroprotective effects on the brain, whereas the effects of frequent cannabis use are less clear but could be negative.
Rae shared, “The only evidence I could find in the literature of neurotoxicity to brain cells is caused by synthetic cannabinoids . Plant-based cannabinoids appear to do the opposite, at least in the short term.”
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The Harmful Effects Of Marijuana
The immediate effects of taking marijuana include rapid heart beat, disorientation, lack of physical coordination, often followed by depression or sleepiness. Some users suffer panic attacks or anxiety.22
But the problem does not end there. According to scientific studies, the active ingredient in cannabis, THC, remains in the body for weeks or even months.23
Marijuana smoke contains 50% to 70% more cancer-causing substances than tobacco smoke.24 One major research study reported that a single cannabis joint could cause as much damage to the lungs as up to five regular cigarettes smoked one after another.4 Long-time joint smokers often suffer from bronchitis, an inflammation of the respiratory tract.25
The drug can affect more than your physical health. Studies in Australia in 2008 linked years of heavy marijuana use to brain abnormalities.26 This is backed up by earlier research on the long-term effects of marijuana, which indicate changes in the brain similar to those caused by long-term abuse of other major drugs. And a number of studies have shown a connection between continued marijuana use and psychosis.27
Studies show that the mental functions of people who have smoked a lot of marijuana tend to be diminished. The THC in cannabis disrupts nerve cells in the brain, affecting memory.30
How Many Brain Cells Am I Smoking Away With Every Bong Hit
It depends how old are you?
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.
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Does Smoking Weed Kill A Persons Brain Cells
Despite how widespread the stereotype is, theres not a whole lot of evidence out there to either support or discredit the perception. Some believe this may have started with that infamous fried egg commercial , which started airing in the 1980s and depicted a fried egg as the encapsulation of a persons brain on drugs. Clearly, moderate use of cannabis will not fry the brain.
When it comes to evidence, there is a study that shows a connection between a smaller hippocampus and chronic cannabis use . Important for memory and learning, the hippocampus isnt directly related to brain cells, but it does show a negative connection between chronic cannabis use and an some impairment.
Final Thoughts On Weed & Brain Cells
Not only is the weed kills brain cells theory a complete myth, but it is also the sheer opposite of reality! In certain circumstances, marijuana helps brain function, and while we are wary about adolescents using it, dozens of studies have determined that cannabis causes no long-term brain damage in adults, or drop in memory, ability to learn, etc.
Nonetheless, marijuana is still Public Enemy Number One in the eyes of some. Meanwhile, we continue to ply ourselves with alcohol even though it is proven to have a negative impact on our brain cells. A 2017 study by Thayer et al. for example, found that while chronic alcohol use was associated with lower gray matter volume and white matter integrity, the same could not be said for marijuana.
It seems that no matter how much data we have that proves marijuana doesnt kill brain cells, anti-marijuana lobbyists will always twist the information to meet their agenda, just like the infamous New Zealand IQ study.
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Getting High Does Not Equal Killing Brain Cells
While frequent, heavy cannabis use can cause a dependency or even addiction in some people, as well as the possible aforementioned symptoms, there is some good news. Using marijuana, no matter the frequency, cannot actually kill brain cells in adult users, says Dr. Sodhi.
Getting high is not synonymous with killing brain cells. The high is an altered state produced by the THC, a mild hallucinogen, he explains. Neither THC or cannabis kills brain cells in the traditional sense, so theres really no need to quantify damage to the brain.
The higher the dosefor example, the more smoke a person inhales and holds in the lungs, or how many THC-laced cookies he or she swallowswill create a more intense high for sure, but as Dr. Sodhi points out, this does not cause increased neurotoxicity in the brain it just makes a person more high.
Effect Of Marijuana Use On Iq
The effect Marijuana has on the brain is influenced by the amount a person has smoked and the users age. Individuals under 25, whose brains are still developing, are most susceptible to the effects of Marijuana on the brain. A study of Marijuanas effect on IQ revealed individuals who began using Marijuana at a young age lost 6 to 8 points from their IQ by middle age. Moreover, those who smoked Marijuana throughout their adolescence, then stopped, did not regain their IQ points. Conversely, individuals who began using Marijuana in their adulthood did not experience any IQ loss.
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How Do Cannabinoids Affect The Brain
Your brain has specific cannabinoid receptors, and cannabinoids act on these receptors in different ways .
A simplified version of how cannabinoids affect the brain:
- Activate brain receptors, stimulating the activity of neurotransmitters that communicate with these receptors or
- Bind to these brain receptors, inhibiting the uptake and increasing the presence of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.
This holds true especially in particular parts of the brain where the amount of these cannabinoid receptors is larger than in other parts.
Cannabinoid receptors in the brain are mainly located in:
- Forebrain areas related to higher cognitive functions
- Forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain areas related to the control of movement, and
- Hindbrain areas related to the control of motor and sensory functions of the autonomic nervous system.
- protective effects
- Changes in your psychomotor abilities
- Changes in your cognitive processes
- Changes in your perception, mood, and consciousness , and
- Potential physical changes in your brain in the long term, even when you arent under the influence of any marijuana.
Then theres the distinction that has to be made, between acute and long-term effects of marijuana on the brain.
Long term effects are harder to reverse than short term effects. If marijuana has the potential to alter your brain chemistry in the long term , its important that youre careful with its use.
First, we start with the:
Is It True That Smoking Weed Kills Brain Cells
Studies suggest that can cause cognitive deficits in adults who have used marijuana in childhood. However, the extent of impairment seems to depend on when you started using, how long youve used, and how much youre using now.
According to the NIH National Institute of Drug Abuse, researchers who study the link between marijuana and reduced IQ scores do not always get the same results. Therefore, their findings to date are inconclusive.
Its difficult to prove that marijuana causes IQ score deficiency when so many variables come into play. A host of other factors can reduce IQ scores just as easily as marijuana.
Lower scores can result from early childhood trauma, poor quality of education, genetics, age of initial cannabis use, and duration of use to name just a few.
Although there may be a correlation between lower IQ scores and marijuana use, theres just not enough information at this time to reliably ascertain whether marijuana lowers childrens IQ scores or not.
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