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Cannabinoids Induce Brain Cell Growth? 494

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the lots-of-happy-people-made-happier dept.
Harlan writes "The Globe and Mail is reporting that researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are claiming that high doses of cannabinoids have induced new brain cell growth in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory, in rat subjects. There are some interesting potential implications in regards to high doses of cannabinoids found in substances like marijuana."
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Cannabinoids Induce Brain Cell Growth?

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  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Sunday October 16, 2005 @03:34AM (#13802015) Homepage Journal
    I mean, have you seen the complexity of some of those home-made bongs?
    There's some serious brain power gone into engineering those bastards.
    • by nietsch (112711) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @04:21AM (#13802147) Homepage Journal
      The mentioned research used 'canaboids', which is a group of componds resembling those found in cannabis(THC). It was already known that the brain uses neurotransmitters that are in the form of canaboids and it contains several types of receptor for it, just like opiates have human equivalents in the form of endorfines.
      But similar results done with THC (Tetra Hydro Cannabinol), the main compound in hash and weed have found no evidence for this cellgrowth stimulation. So let's not jump for joy yet. One experiment/paper does not mean it has been accepted as scientific fact yet.
      Besides, you can be sure that with such a hot subject and the way research is financed/politiced there will be more research 'debunking' this even if it turns out to be true after all.
      • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @06:19AM (#13802452) Homepage

        Actually, the research talks about "cannabinoids." Cannabinoids are the primary psychoactive alkaloids contained in cannabis, of which, THC is the most concentrated in most strains, although each strain contains different levels of each. THC is a cannabinoid so it likely has very similar pharmacological effects as HU-210.

        • Not that I want to debunk those results or anything, but saying that two similar substances of the same kind have the same effect would also imply that ethanol and methanol would have roughly the same effect. I doubt there is anyone on Slashdot who doesn't know the difference, though.
          • that's a bad analogy. we're not talking about two substances that simply have similar chemical properties. we're talking about two alkaloids that have similar pharmacological properties. a closer analogy would be comparing two different kinds of exogenous opioids like diacetylmorphine(heroin) and morphine, or codeine and morphine, or a fentanyl analog and morphine, etc., all of which activate a shared set of receptors in the brain. cannabinoids also share a lot of common receptor sites with each other--by d
            • I don't think it's such a bad analogy. There are plenty of antiestrogrens that are extremely close in structure to estrogen, and in vivo have effects on some types of estrogen receptors that are antiestrogen and proestrogen effects on other estrogen receptor subtypes.
          • On the other hand if you did want to debunk the results then their methodology would be a good place to start. The cell growth is implied by the rats reduced reluctance to eat in new surroundings. They're basing this on the fact that the rats ate more. Seriously. Has anyone done a study on whether or not rats get munchies from artificial cannabinoids?
            • by nietsch (112711) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @09:05AM (#13802997) Homepage Journal
              from TFA:
              They found that giving rats high doses of HU210 twice a day for 10 days increased the rate of nerve cell formation, or neurogenesis, in the hippocampus by about 40%.


              Are you still sure that the only method they used was injecting cannabinoids and measuring how much they ate?

              I guess that experiment is an accepted test for anxiety, and prozac cum suis scores very good on it. Science gets better if you use standard test where you can. Even though your 'munchies' hypothesis sounds plausible, it still cannot explain the neurogenesis bit.
            • I read this feed on forbes [forbes.com] three days ago. It contains more information, including: "Autopsies revealed that by the end of the 10-day HU210 treatment regimen, new neurons had been generated and integrated into the circuitry of the hippocampus region of the rat's brains. This process, known as neurogenesis, was still in evidence a full month after treatment had been initiated."

              So you see, they're actually basing it on autopsies, which tend to involve cutting open dead creatures and poking around their inside
          • by O.W.M (884392) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @07:47AM (#13802695)
            Ethanol and Methanol DO have roughly the same effect. You get the same intoxication from both of them. What kills you is not the methanol intoxication but the methanol hangover.

            Methanol is metabolized by alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) via formaldehyde to formic acid, being responsible for the metabolic acidosis in methanol poisoning.

            That's why ethanol is given as a cure for methanol poisoning; by adding ethanol to the bloodstream the metabolization rate of methanol decreases as the body will also metabolize ethanol, and thus the level of toxic methanol byproducts in the blood will be kept at a non-lethal level.

        • How else can such a comment come from someone whose nick is the chemical name for LSD :-)
          You are right, i made a typo, cannabinoids it is. And yes other cannaboids occur in cannabis too.
          But your assumption that because they are in the same group they must have the same phamacological properties is a bit of the mark. To have the same properties it must bind to the same receptors in the same amounts. There these small difference with extra groups may make a big difference how the molecule actually fits. An ex
        • Cannabinoids are not alkaloids, either.
      • Besides, you can be sure that with such a hot subject and the way research is financed/politiced there will be more research 'debunking' this even if it turns out to be true after all.

        Yeah, they probably were studying MDMA ("ecstasy") this time. http://www.markarkleiman.com/archives/000078.html [markarkleiman.com]
      • by Raven_Stark (747360) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @09:33AM (#13803137)
        Just a wild ass guess but from someone who didn't RTFA...

        Most people who are new to cannabis have short term memory problems while high. My >cough friend would get halfway through some brilliant philosophical conversation and then forget what he was talking about, for instance. People who do a lot of cannabis seem to get over this problem. Perhaps the brain is compensating for the memory impairment while high by building strengthening itself.
    • by NickABusey (642217) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @04:27AM (#13802165) Homepage
      Thurgood Jenkins: The MacGyver smoker is a very handy guy to have around, especially when it comes to reefer.
      McGayver Friend: Hey, man, we're out of papers.
      McGayver Smoker: All right. Then get me a toilet paper roll, a corkscrew and some tin foil.
      McGayver Friend: We don't have a corkscrew.
      McGayver Smoker: All right. Then get me an avocado, an ice pick and my snorkel.
      McGayver Smoker: [Friend looks at him funny] Trust me, bro. I've made bongs with less. Hurry up!
  • i would suspect that THC spurs the growth of brain cells responsible for promoting hunger and suppressing satiety

    specifically for cheetos
  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @03:38AM (#13802024) Homepage Journal

    This is just my observation but when a persons health fails in old age, a key factor seems to be failure in the nervous system. I had a great aunt who lived five years after a stroke. Her body went downhill because her brain wasn't running the show properly.

    So I think treatments which can help revive the brain can also help other systems in the body.

    And it is the only organ which can not be replaced in some way by machinery.

  • Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

    by sveskemus (833838) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @03:41AM (#13802028) Homepage
    I always suspected... uhm, what were we talking about again?
  • Ah... (Score:5, Funny)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp.gmail@com> on Sunday October 16, 2005 @03:42AM (#13802036) Homepage
    You might grow more brain cells, but all of these new cells will be dedicated to designing more complicated bongs and imagining conspiracies to unravel, so the net functional gain is minimal.
    • What do you mean the net functional gain is minimal? The inventors of the quad-chamber bong were geniuses, and its sophistication is the hallmark of a civilized society.
  • by bsartist (550317) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @03:46AM (#13802049) Homepage
    Same thing we do every night, Pinky - get baked and munch out.
  • by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp.gmail@com> on Sunday October 16, 2005 @03:48AM (#13802055) Homepage
    Maybe skipping class to go smoke pot isn't such a waste of time after all...

  • Great... (Score:5, Funny)

    by fragmentate (908035) * <.jdspilled. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday October 16, 2005 @03:49AM (#13802062) Journal
    Now that my kids have read this we can argue about, "But DAD, Slashdot says!"
    • Re:Great... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Kids basing decisions on scientific studies - even if those contradict our belief systems and/or values [or those of our corporate overlords] - is still better than that children are kept in ignorance.

      Actually, this applies to all people, not just kids. Take global warming as an example.
  • Certainly that can't be in a form of inhaling. However why is that this picture is on the news? http://images.theglobeandmail.com/archives/RTGAM/i mages/20051014/wxcanna1014/1014joints.jpg [theglobeandmail.com]

    Sounds like someone just got too excited to hear the news, lite up that pipe and start posting news with whatever picture taken from pot party he/she attended.

    That just proves pot smoking kills more brain cells than promotes them. I rather eat fish than inject myself with 100 times more potent form of THC into my body on
  • Dude! (Score:3, Funny)

    by pookemon (909195) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @03:51AM (#13802065) Homepage
    It, like, alters your mind! Wohoa!
  • HU-210 (Score:5, Funny)

    by gfody (514448) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @03:57AM (#13802073)
    The team injected laboratory rats with a synthetic substance called HU-210, which is similar, but 100 times as potent as THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound responsible for giving marijuana users a high.

    Clearly my dealer has been lying to me. He swore there was nothing stronger than his stuff. Where do I get HU-210? ..or better yet, how do I make it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 16, 2005 @04:01AM (#13802086)
    US Congress will make sure this is the case. Drugs may not harm the Canadians but they do harm American people.
  • by CRabe (895026) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @04:08AM (#13802105)
    The authors are far more cautious in their interpretation than some of the /. readers...but then this is not that much of a surprise. PDF (a few MBs) http://www.pubmedcentral.gov/picrender.fcgi?artid= 1253627&blobtype=pdf [pubmedcentral.gov]
  • by lightspawn (155347) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @04:16AM (#13802129) Homepage
    Why are rats attending a hippocampus in the first place?
  • by Brendor (208073) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `e.nadnerb'> on Sunday October 16, 2005 @04:18AM (#13802137) Journal
    This article was posted 13 minutes too late.
  • actual paper (Score:5, Informative)

    by geighaus (670864) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @04:25AM (#13802159)
    Actual paper can be found here [jci.org].
  • It seems to slam short-term memory immediately after you've smoked it, but everything bounces back. I've maintained for years that my mind is more powerful thanks to the all the psychedelics I've had over the years. People will of course laugh at me, but I respectfully think I'm in the better position to be judging that. I've actually noticed a nice increase in performance, not to mention scope.
    • I've maintained for years that my mind is more powerful thanks to the all the psychedelics I've had over the years.

      When I was 19 I developed a siezure disorder and needed to have a CT scan. The radiologist connected me to an IV containing something which he claimed would make me feel slightly warm. What is did was convince me that my mind really was "more powerful" than anything in the known universe. For about three hours anyway.

      Looking back, I don't think the experience made me any smarter. That one exp

      • I'm not really seeing the connection between your CT scan and my experience.

        Of course it is impossible for you to run your life twice - once with and once without drugs - so we don't really know if it has had any affect on you at all.

        That's pretty flawed logic. It's not necessary to live my life twice to judge the effects of one influence in my life. If it were, we'd never really learn anything, would we?

        I sense that what you're trying to say here is "Yeah but you're just drug-fucked and not capable of se

  • Math+Cannabis (Score:2, Interesting)

    by deplifer (923272)

    Got this 2 weird dudes @ my university, they smoke weed(in high doses) all day long. They take Advanced Math and Graphics Programming and do it exeptionally well.

    So there sure is some truth in this article(research).

  • that i realise am God once in a while after ....

    so was the case with my predecessor mr.holmes
  • ...And in a related discovery, it was found that working on your forehead with a cheese grater induces skin cell growth.
  • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @05:30AM (#13802317) Homepage
    What a surprise to click on Slashdot and see news about cannabinoids - I feel like I'm reading my own site ...

    I operate CANNABIS.COM ... shortcut url http://cann.com/ [cann.com]

    Some informative pages to check out:

    Lots of cannabis Research information *with sources listed*
    http://www.cannabis.com/research/ [cannabis.com]

    TR-446 Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of 1-Trans-Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (CAS No. 1972-08-3) in F344 Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Gavage Studies)
    http://www.cannabis.com/research/tr446study.shtml [cannabis.com]
    (mirror of the study published by the U.S. National Toxicity Program)

    Cannabis News
    http://www.cannabisnews.com/ [cannabisnews.com]

    And finally, Erowid's Cannabis Vault...
    http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis.sht ml [erowid.org]

    Ron Bennett
    • I operate CANNABIS.COM
      I am intrigued by your ideas, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
    • It doesn't matter whatever medicinal uses it has. If it were shown to regrow hair, prolong erections, and cure prostate cancer, it would still be treated as an evil drug. The pharmaceutical companies would find the key curative ingredients and find aritficial derivative that could be patented. Drug companies do not want people to have a wonderdrug they can grow in their own backyard. It's bad for business. Furthermore, from the conservative politician viewpoint, it would be especially bad for the War on Dru
  • Get doped up and more intelligent at the same time. Life couldn't be better.

    Lets fund more research like this. We all know that if enough people believe something is true then it is true.

  • They can cure diabetes in rats, they can grow organs in rats, now they can increase the rat brain. Still it does not mean much to us, none of these works in humans yet. Rats are similar but not identical.

    Yeah I know, in Soviet Russia communism was first tested on humans before being tested on rats.

  • I bet your average college student when "exposed" to cannaboids will be ten times more likely to remember where the Fritos are.
  • One of the things that happens to brains is that they shed brain cells as they go from birth to maturity. No doubt there may be some loss of neural plasticity, but it's also correlated to increasing cognitive development.

    If I recall (this is very old stuff for me), my neuroscience teacher mentioned that young brains sometimes grow new neural connections in response to trauma. However, the results of this were not necessarily good -- it in itself might be a kind of damage.

    So -- while this is certainly a ve
    • by SilverspurG (844751) * on Sunday October 16, 2005 @08:08AM (#13802764) Homepage Journal
      until quantitative performance tests in controlled studies are done
      I have a novel idea. How about we drop all the bullshit and political posturing and move directly to deregulation?

      Nearly every single large medical study of marijuana has had its funding denied, or its license for the controlled substance denied, or any of dozens of other reasons to keep the study mummied in red tape. If people are working so hard to hide something then the most logical answer is probably the opposite. In this case: marijuana has little or no effect on anything, all negative social perceptions are due to years of wrongful regulation, all ill effects are circumstantial correlations, and the only reason for the continued illegality is the complete inability to admit that the government has ever made a mistake. PR and ego--no different than telling your manager he's wrong.
  • This one phrase out to put his mind into action.

    Man brewed alcohol, God created marijuana. Who're you going to trust, Mr. President?
  • by bunratty (545641) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @08:53AM (#13802963)
    When you have to struggle to remember what you and your bong bud have just been talking about, it makes sense that you'd have to exercise your brain's memory regions. Smoking pot is like walking with leg weights -- it's harder to do when you have them on, but when they come off you're stronger for the extra effort you exerted.
  • by kallistiblue (411048) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @01:02PM (#13804368) Homepage
    It seems that all the intelligent people I've met understand the the War on Drugs is a total snipe hunt.

    As long as their is demand, there will be a market.

    The fundemental question seems to be:
    Is the government trying to punish marijuana smokers or educate them?

    More than 60% of all drug incarcerations are for non-violent possesion of marijuana.

    As a rational individual, it seems obvioius that their current tactics only succeed in punishing marijuana smokers. Actual use of marijuana is at the same levels or higher than it has ever been so as a preventive, prohibition has most definitely failed. The supply of marijuana is greater than ever and the potency is higher too. The DEA says this to scare the uninformed. They attempt to create the analogy that stronger means greater threat. In reality, stronger means that pot heads have to consume less marijuana to get high. So in reality, higher potency means healthier pot smokers. Who do you believe the DEA with their vested interest in maintaining the status quo or an independent organization of scientists and medical researchers, the esteemed World Health Organization. http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/general/w ho-index.htm [druglibrary.org]

    If anything prohibition has made the problem worse. Prohibition tends to create a black market which opens the door for large scale criminal organizations. Examples of these are the Mafia ( very small organization until their massive growth thanks to alcohol prohibition), the Latin & South American drug cartels in the '80's, and of course the DEA.
    http://www.prohibitioncosts.org/ [prohibitioncosts.org]
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-157.html [cato.org]

    In fact the only voices that seem to be raised against the legalization of marijuana are those of the DEA and the penal system. That's only natural, without them maintaining their lies, their free ride is over. Even the politicians are afraid of the power of the DEA. Apparently the DEA thinks they don't have to obey the Constitution.
    http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/sun/2003 /jan/16/514528463.html?Marijuana%20Group:%20Feds%2 0Broke%20Law [lasvegassun.com]

    http://www.leap.cc/ [www.leap.cc] is a really interesting website put together by former Law Enforcement Officers that have seen that the Drug Laws cause more harm than good.

    My more people that know the truth, the better our society becomes.

    Just because you like being sober doesn't mean you have to hate those that want to smoke pot.

    The United States is still a free country, right?

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