THC Can Protect From Multiple Brain Deficits

Cannabis research has continued to grow in popularity in recent years, and it has recently been suggested that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) offers protection for the brain.

In a study published in September 2012, researchers determined that a single ultra-low dosage of THC (.002mg/kg) applied 1-7 days before or 1-3 days after a neuronal insult can protect the brain from a number of cognitive deficits.

The deficit-causing insults that were explored were as follows: Repeated exposure to MDMA (ecstasy), carbon monoxide exposure, and anesthesia cause by pentobarbital, an anesthetic which is sometimes used for execution.

They found that the one THC treatment protected the brain from these cognitive deficits for 7 weeks.

Neuroplasticity Is Encouraged By THC

The role of neuroplasticity is widely recognized in healthy development, learning, memory, and recovery from brain damage. Neuroplasticity is the way that the brain develops over time. It occurs in response to experiences and consists of Neurogenesis (neuron creation) and Neurodegeration (neuron death). There a number of ways in which Neuroplasticity is measure and they were the focus of this study from Israel. It was performed by Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

Extracellular-signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) are protein enzymes that modify other proteins. They’re involved in regulating the processes involved with cell differentiation. Researchers observed the amount of ERKs in the brain and found long-lasting differences within the hippocampus, frontal cortex, and cerebellum.

cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) is a protein that binds to the cAMP DNA sequence. It is believed that CREB plays a role in neuronal plasticity and long-term memory formation. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is protein that helps maintain the process of Neurogenesis. A study published in 1995 suggests its necessary for normal neural development.

“These long-lasting effects indicate that a single treatment with an ultra-low dose of THC can modify brain plasticity and induce long-term behavioral and developmental effects in the brain.” — Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Israel

The researchers at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine investigated the levels if CREB and BDNF after the THC treatment. They found pCREB (phosphorylated cAMP response element-binding protein) was elevated in the hippocampus. BDNF levels increased in the frontal cortex as well.