Political Analyst – Derek Thomas
There’s little debate left about marijuana’s medical benefits. Now research is more focused on just how many ailments can be treated with marijuana.
But the debate about marijuana’s negative side effects, especially on the still developing brain of adolescents, is still raging – and for good reason. Even amongst marijuana’s most ardent researchers, there’s agreement that using even minor amounts of marijuana can cause lasting psychological and cognitive damage for teenagers.
Have you gotten the same lump in your throat reading about the potential damage you’ve done to your brain as I have? Or did you smoke away all your give-a-shits?
Either way, science has some good news.
We may be able to reverse the effects of getting too high in high school.
And that’s good news, not only for us, but for the 35% of high school seniors that have tried marijuana as well.
A recently published paper in the journal Scientific Reports intended to study this very issue.
In the paper researchers from the University of Western Ontario in Canada report how the research played out in laboratory rats.
In the study paper, senior author Steven Laviolette – a professor at the University of Western Ontario’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry explains that some studies have shown that long-term exposure to THC raises the long-term risk of schizophrenia and other psychiatric diseases; what they originally intended to study and expected.
They found that these abnormalities come with increased dopamine activity in the prefrontal cortex region of the brain.
Dopamine, a chemical messenger or neurotransmitter, helps the brain regulate brain centers involved with reward, pleasure, movement, and emotion.
Thankfully Dr. Steven Laviolette and his team decided to dig further. The factor that was linking the brain changes to the schizophrenia-like symptoms remained a mystery. The new study focused on another chemical messenger called GABA.
“GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and plays a crucial role in regulating the excitatory activity in the frontal cortex, so if you have less GABA, your neuronal systems become hyperactive leading to behavioral changes consistent with schizophrenia,” explains study co-author Justine Renard, a postdoctoral fellow.
The team found that adolescent rats exposed to THC had reduced GABA and it caused neurons in the animals’ frontal cortex to become over-active in adulthood. Additionally, the rats developed schizophrenia-like symptoms such as higher levels of anxiety and lower social motivation.
The frontal cortex neurons also became “out of synch with each other,” shown by disruptions in a type of brain wave called gamma waves.
Ultimately, the reduction in GABA resulted in a “hyperactive dopamine system,” which is commonly seen in the brains of people with schizophrenia.
The researchers found that they could reverse these effects in the brain and in the rats’ behavior by using drugs that activate GABA.
The paper postulated that people might be able to combine use of marijuana – either for recreational or medicinal purposes – with compounds that increase GABA to protect against the potentially adverse effects of THC exposure.
The team now plans to investigate the safety and effectiveness of combinations of cannabinoids and GABA-boosting drugs in the treatment of depression, addiction, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
If you want to start healing your brain by increasing GABA now and naturally, here are a few things you can try:
- Magnolia Bark
- Skullcap Herbs
- Lemon Balm
- Black Seed Oil
- Jasmine Plants
- Green Tea