Marijuana prevents brain damage in mice

LOS ANGELES — The words “marijuana” and “brain damage” usually go in that order in medical literature. An Israeli researcher has flipped them around, finding that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, may arrest some forms of brain damage in mice.

Pharmacologist Josef Sarne of Tel Aviv University found that a minuscule amount of tetrahydrocannabinol may protect the brain after injuries from seizures, toxic drug exposure or a lack of oxygen.

The amounts wouldn’t qualify as much more than a second-hand whiff of kine bud — the quantity of THC is an order of 1,000 to 10,000 lower than that in a whole spliff.

The study was published in Behavioural Brain Research and Experimental Brain Research.

Other researchers suggested using high — their word — doses within about half an hour after such injury. Sarne would spread a smaller dose over as much as a week.

The chemical is thought to jump-start biochemical processes that protect brain cells and preserve cognitive function.

Researchers injected mice with a low dose of THC either before or after exposing them to brain trauma. Fellow rodents in a control group got their brains bonked without the dose.

About a month or two later, the mice that got the THC treatment performed better in behavioral tests measuring learning and memory and showed they had greater amounts of neuroprotective chemicals than the control-group mice.

Oddly, it may be brain damage on a small scale that causes the brain to shift into protective mode. Researchers theorize the THC causes minute damage to the brain that helps build resistance and triggers protective measures in the face of more severe injury.

The low dose and long window for administering it would have obvious benefits after an injury, but it also could mean that THC can be given prior to a procedure that may carry risk of brain injury, including interruption of blood flow to the brain during surgery. Sarne believes it also could be safe for regular use among epileptics.

More in Local News

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

Jim Mathis, the Vietnam veteran whose Marysville garden was recently featured in The Herald, died Wednesday. Mathis, who suffered from PTSD and cancer, found solace in his beautiful garden. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Vietnam veteran Jim Mathis found peace in his garden

The Marysville man who served two tours died Wednesday after suffering from cancer and PTSD.

Smith Island habitat restoration cost to rise $1.2 million

The project is intended to increase survival rates for juvenile chinook salmon.

Add deputies and bump taxes a bit, executive proposes

Dave Somers’ Snohomish County budget proposal also would address traffic problems in neighborhoods.

County councilman proposes banning safe injection sites

Nate Nehring says county officials also should find “credible, long-term solutions to addiction.”

Car crashes near Everett after State Patrol pursuit

The driver and a second person in the car suffered injuries.

They chose the longshot candidate to fill a vacant seat

Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick will serve as representative for the 39th legislative district.

Alien brain? No, a colony of harmless freshwater creatures

Bryozoans are tiny invertebrates that live in jelly-like masses, and their presence is a good thing.

Definitely not Christmas in July for parched young trees

“I live in Washington. I should not have to water a Christmas tree,” says one grower. But they did.

Most Read