Contributor: KC Scannell
It’s long been common knowledge that cannabis can help people deal with all sorts of aches and pains. Studies have been conducted proving just such a result. However, for one reason or another, our stubborn federal government continues to muddy the waters, so to speak, with a litany of unnecessary regulations and laws governing these tests.
These rules and regulations, essentially, make it increasingly difficult for the scientific community to complete enough research to reach an official conclusion on just how cannabis can affect the brain. Especially when the mind needs the most help: during recovery.
We’ve all heard the stories of how cannabis can help with other ailments. It can increase the hunger in patients who’ve since lost their appetite due to a complication with treatment. It can help restless people find the sleep they so desperately need. It can even quiet the worries of a constantly fretting mindset.
Here’s How Cannabis Can Help The Brain After An Injury
All of these psychological benefits are tremendously useful, and they help millions of people live better, more comfortable lives. But, there are ways in which cannabis can directly help the brain during its recovery stages following any sort of direct injury or trauma. Which is probably why most war veterans and athletes often find solace in marijuana.
First, there are some vitally important aspects to be aware of when discussing this topic. The initial thing everyone needs to be conscious of is: the majority of brain damage occurs following a traumatic event – it doesn’t happen on impact.
It happens during the recovery portion. In these seconds, hours, even days following a head injury of this nature, is when your brain finds itself in dire need of assistance because it’s basically been launched into full-blown emergency mode, as it tries to heal whatever damage has been done.
When this is happening, a brain chemical known as glutamate is released. Now, glutamate is always present in the brain, and it’s essential for the mind to continue to function properly. And, whenever the brain endures a direct trauma, it releases more glutamate to help with the recovery.
However, a surplus of this chemical will start to physically damage and kill brain cells. Which is the last thing anyone wants to happen. So, the new goal becomes regulating the amount of glutamate that gets released during this recovery mode.
The best way to accomplish this cranial goal can be found in the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Which just so happen to be the main portals through which THC and CBD are able to release their effects onto the consumer’s mind and body.
While both of these receptors play their own specific roles when it comes to helping the brain recover, the CB1 receptors seem to reign supreme when it comes to lessening the amount of glutamate that gets produced and distributed during this time. So, with THC and/or CBD activating these receptors, it helps the patient avoid an increased chance of developing major brain damage.
Like any other test worth its salt in the scientific community, a collection of analysts performed an in-depth look at these receptors, and their effects, on a series of mice.
This test, which may seem cruel to some, simulated a stroke in these tiny animals. Some, before the simulation, were administered a dosage of CBD or THC. These mice, as it turns out, came away with far fewer indications of brain damage. More than that, any mouse that was given a dose of CBD after the simulated trauma saw a dramatic decrease in brain damage from the simulation.
Scientists also walked away with another bit of evidence here. In some of these cases, they had mice on a steady diet of THC, while others partook in solely CBD treatments, for a couple weeks leading up to the simulation. What researchers discovered was the mice with the THC treatment had developed a minor tolerance to the brain chemical, so the damage that was done to their brain, via the simulation, had more of an effect on them. Mainly because their tolerance lessened the THC’s ability to enact itself against the glutamate, like it should have.
Conversely, the mice that were on a CBD-only treatment reacted positively when the simulation took place. There wasn’t a “tolerance” that their minds had to overcome, and the indirect contact that CBD elicited on the CB1 and CB2 receptors worked like a charm, even with their two-week treatments. This essentially proves that CBD is a far better bet for those looking for a preemptive, cannabis-related way to prepare their brains for any unforeseen traumas or injuries.
That study was incredibly useful, but it wasn’t the only one of its kind. There have been multiple other tests that have been conducted to see how cannabis can help the mind deal directly with stress. And, it just so happens, there may be some proof that cannabis could actually help the brain counteract negative effects brought on by aging and/or chronic stress.
With those two ailments, they are at their worst when there is a decrease in new brain cells that are supposed to be popping up in the hippocampus section of the brain. However, if the trusty CB1 receptors are activated properly, they can help fix that issue by creating a litany of new brain cells. And it would mainly be able to do so with the help of some good ol’ fashioned THC.
On the CBD side of things, they can energize these same CB1 receptors in their own way. In doing so, they’d heighten the number of anandamide, which is a very critical endogenous cannabinoid. The increase of this particular brain chemical helps the mind battle against any sort of potential brain damage that would be brought on due to chronic stress and/or aging.
As encouraging as these results are (and, yes, they are encouraging), we still have a long way to go before anything definitive can be said about how cannabis can help the brain during times of recovery. However, this is most certainly a large leap in the right direction towards progress.
Now, the main target becomes the federal government.
We, as cannabis enthusiasts and advocates, need to convince these misguided politicians to ease up on their senseless restrictions against marijuana and marijuana testing. The more we know about cannabis and its wealth of benefits, the better off we’ll be.
This knowledge will, effectively, help wean the nation off of their lethal addiction to prescription drugs and opioids, as well. This naturally growing form of medicine would be able to become properly utilized in various medical situations that would call for any of its countless benefits.
Like in the case of brain trauma, for example. It’s all about educating ourselves, as a people, on how we can accurately use the power of cannabis to help us, and our brains, recover with minimal-to-no damage after an injury.
Hopefully, in the very near future, the powers that be will see that more data is needed in order to finalize a statement on the benefits of cannabis. And, with the tides slowly turning in our favor, it feels like that sort of information is right around the corner.