New research reports that the active ingredient in marijuana , THC, offers neuro-protection and may protect the brain from long term damage following a brain injury.
Professor Yosef Sarne of Tel Aviv University’s Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine reports that THC protects the brain from long-term cognitive damage in the wake of injury from hypoxia (lack of oxygen), seizures, or toxic drugs. Brain damage can have consequences ranging from mild cognitive deficits to severe neurological damage.
According to Professor Sarne, in an article published in the journals Behavioural Brain Research and Experimental Brain Research,, his research demonstrates that even extremely low doses of THC — around 1,000 to 10,000 times less than that in a conventional marijuana cigarette — administered over a wide window of 1 to 7 days before or 1 to 3 days after injury can jumpstart biochemical processes which protect brain cells and preserve cognitive function over time.
The study suggests that the active ingredient in marijuana prevents the death of brain cells following a traumatic brain injury and the use of THC can prevent long-term cognitive damage that results from brain injury, the researchers conclude. The study offers promise for the treatment of persons following a traumatic brain injury as well as a preventive measure for individuals undergoing surgical procedures such as open heart surgery where cognitive declines often take place as a result of low oxygen levels in the blood.