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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 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.

  • by layer3switch (783864) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @03:49AM (#13802063)
    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 daily basis, thank you very much.
  • About time. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 16, 2005 @03:59AM (#13802079)
    I've been smoking weed for years, and every time I get nice and baked, I tend to learn things quicker, and remember vividly everything I learn while high. I'm not surprised that injecting lab rats with a twice as potent THC like substance spurred neuron generation, quite frankly I'm surprised that in the USA, marijuana still remains illegal while drugs like Oxycontin are still kept in pharmacies. Perhaps that's why studies in this nature are conducted in other countries, the government wants you to use THEIR drugs. I say free the weed, it helps perpetuate neuron growth, so why stop it? Is the government afraid that, one day, the population might come out of a sobriety induced stupor to realize that the politicians are all overpaid bastards who leech off our money to feed their expensive tastes and high salaries, while giving us nothing but bullshit in return?
  • 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.
  • Re:Great... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 16, 2005 @04:32AM (#13802176)
    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.
  • Re:Good Grief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SilverspurG (844751) * on Sunday October 16, 2005 @05:22AM (#13802298) Homepage Journal
    Let's just completely ignore any research that shows the negative effects
    I could if there were any.
  • Re:Good Grief (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eboot (697478) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @05:37AM (#13802341)
    Its interesting that someone as obviously intelligent as yourself would site the previous studies about marijuana effects, compare them to this single study and then cut a withering remark about the end of the party for 'hippies', because of course they're the only people who smoke marijuana, but then you go and...

    Fuck it all up by leaving a sig that suggests you enjoy alcohol abuse but justify it as medication. I have a lot of friends who have had marijuana problems but by the later stages of their lives they've left it behind. But anyone Ive ever known with alcohol problems struggles with it their whole lives until their liver pickles itself.

  • by kjamez (10960) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @05:54AM (#13802392) Homepage
    i noticed the point of the alcohol-enduced-sig, and wanted to comment, but you beat me to it ... i've never known anyone to get high and oh, say, beat their wife, or wreck head-on at 90mph racing down roads, or even really do much of ANYTHING. the "party isn't over for hippies" ... but i do know a multiple-sclerosis patient or two that enjoy a good toke, and, and my-chemo-therapy-buddy, he likes it too ... not that i'm AGAINST alcohol in any real way/shape/form, but the evils associated therein are far more harmful to yourself, your family, your life, and everyone around you (especially when operating a motor vehicle) ... i'd rather there be 100 stoners driving 35mph in a 60, scared out of their minds, than a single red-neck drunk on jack daniels showing you exactly how manuverable his F-350 is.
  • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @06:08AM (#13802429) Homepage
    While we're all thinking ... think of how many cannabis users could have done so much more if it wasn't for that pesky arrest record, jail time, etc.

    The penalties are what create much of the problems, not cannabis itself.

    Ron
  • Re:Good Grief (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ifwm (687373) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @07:03AM (#13802549) Journal
    "Let's just completely ignore any research that shows the negative effects of the Chronic use of marijuana"

    How about you post some of this research?

    I suggest that in the future, before you use "research" as your basis for forming your opinions, you'd better make sure the research exists in the first place.

    Fucking igmoramus
  • 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.
  • by SteveAyre (209812) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @08:30AM (#13802867)
    Stoners with Munchies + Food = Profit.

    I'm surprised they don't sell food.
  • by SilverspurG (844751) * on Sunday October 16, 2005 @08:37AM (#13802897) Homepage Journal
    honestly can you say that getting stoned regularly doesn't cause a lot of people to put off making choices
    I can honestly say that the decision making process becomes reprioritized. Many people try to make too many choices. In many ways smoking marijuana may help you decide what's really important. Some people spend their lives "drifting through life", as you put it, but that's probably what they always wanted to do anyway. Other people smoke marijuana and become enormously productive and creative.

    "Drifting through life" is not a sure effect of prolonged regular marijuana use. Maybe it was for you because that's what you wanted to do. Maybe you don't want to do that anymore. That's you. That's not enough to justify law or the enormous campaign of pure and utter crap that's come out of the (taxpayer funded) government and several organziations of questionable scientific rigor.
  • by SilverspurG (844751) * on Sunday October 16, 2005 @08:54AM (#13802967) Homepage Journal
    Everyone tends to think of themselves as the exception, that they are in control. In reality they are not, their judgment has diminished to the point, that they think they are actually better than before.
    I think you can say this pretty much about anything. The person who needs their coffee because it helps them wake up, the person who needs their prozac because it helps them calm down, the kids who need their ADD medicine because it helps them concentrate.

    I've estimated that at least half, if not 3/4, of the people driving on the road are under the influence of some substance or situation (sleep) which has an effect on their ability to make quick decisions and pay attention. There are plenty more dangerous activities--cell phone use, for example--which are far more distracting and dangerous than smoking a marijuana cigarette.
  • by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @09:26AM (#13803092) Homepage
    And if the stuff were legal (and therefore cheaper), you wouldn't NEED to inhale like that to milk every last bit of THC from each hit.

    Hell, you wouldn't need to SMOKE the stuff in the first place. Eating it gets you high, too. But you need to use a lot more of it than you would smoke. So economics tend to dictate the most harmful route of ingetsion...
  • by SilverspurG (844751) * on Sunday October 16, 2005 @09:33AM (#13803135) Homepage Journal
    In fact, most drugs, not just cannabis, seems to reduce this ability
    Have you considered the effect of the social and legal stigma associated with the state's position on those substances? Really. Economic position is just as much, if not more, an effect of the state and not an effect inherent in any particular habit.
    then "stoners" seems to have a long way to go
    You're profiling stoners as those down and out people who are always having problems in life. 1) There are plenty of non-users who fit this social perception, 2) You don't see any good stoners because it's socially unacceptable to admit to using marijuana. Nearly 40% of people will admit in a closed study to using marijuana on a regular basis (at least once/month). I never admitted, even to a private study, to smoking cigarettes until I was 18.

    It could really be America's most ridiculous secret.
  • 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 TexVex (669445) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @10:37AM (#13803470)
    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 Drugs if they were smaked in the face with all the lies about weed they have been perpetuating for decades.

    The road to decriminalization of marijuana requires a fundamental shift in the prevailing attitudes of society. Showing that it's mostly harmless won't do it. Showing that it actually has upsides won't do it. Millions of people peacably demonstrating won't do it. I doubt even a group of huge corporations forming political action committees could do it -- big tobacco is already on the run, so how the hell do you expect that people promoting another kind of smoke could get very far today?
  • 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?

  • by Thing 1 (178996) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @01:24PM (#13804494) Journal
    Exactly. We wouldn't have Jazz without pot.

    And, is our world really that much better, societally, than the late 1800s? Back then, cocaine was in Coca-Cola, pot was legal, heroin was used medically, and nobody was in jail for altering their own mind.

    Sure, you could say that today is much more dangerous because we have cars all over the place, but that doesn't mean that I am any more a danger sitting in my apartment getting stoned and watching the Matrix (or just sufferring from glaucoma). Sure, if I get behind the wheel and am impaired in any shape or form, stop me from killing someone (this includes being sleepy, distracted thinking about a fight with the spouse, talking on the cell phone (for that matter, talking to other passengers!), reading billboards, singing along with the radio, etc.).

    The key is that there is a scale of impairment, and it should be testable; there exist video games that test impairment which should be used in dangerous work environments, because "drug testing" just shows that I had a great weekend, 3 weeks ago; it doesn't show whether I am currently able to perform the tasks I am responsible for. Pilots and drivers (bus/taxi, etc.) should be impairment tested every time they show up to work.

    But even this is going to end fairly soon: I remember reading an article on here a week or so ago which said that self-driving cars are about 10 years off.

    As you said, eliminate the penalties and the bulk of the problem goes away. The tax money that was being spent on apprehension and incarceration can be much better spent on treatment and medical attention. And it will certainly help the economy, because a multi-billion dollar industry will spring up literally overnight, and start paying taxes.

    I can see Frito-Lay giving out pot coupons: "buy 2 bags of chips, get a mariajuana cigarette for free!"

  • by Dreamstalker_wolf (823953) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @01:38PM (#13804571)
    Anything can be "shown" to cause cancer, all it takes is the right studies by the right biased researcher. I fail to see how cannabis can be linked to cancerous cells, as cancer is basically a protein misfolding and cell division out of control. Linking marijuana to cancer formation would be effectively saying that weed causes protein formation to go awry, which is quite a stretch (in that I doubt it could be proven).
  • Re:Good Grief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anicca (819551) on Sunday October 16, 2005 @02:02PM (#13804713) Journal
    Well let's start with Fried et. al. [www.cmaj.ca], who concluded that ongoing heavy use of marijuana has a signficant negative impact on IQ.

    (I think I can afford a few IQ points, better a little dimmer and a lot happier than a little brighter but a lot more misrable...)

    And then we can in fact see the short term memory impairment,
    Heyser, C.J.; Hampson, R.E.; and Deadwyler, S.A. Effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on delayed match to sample performance in rats: Alterations in short-term memory associated with changes in task-specific firing of hippocampal cells. Journal of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics 264(1):294-307, 1993.

    (The research is not conclusive. We are not rats.)

    And let's not pretend that smoking marijuana isn't going to have a negative effects on the lungs,
    Tashkin, D.P. Pulmonary complications of smoked substance abuse. West J Med 152:525-530, 1990., and
    Sarafian, T.A.; Magallanes, J.A.; Shau, H.; Tashkin, D.; and Roth, M.D. Oxidative stress produced by marijuana smoke. An adverse effect enhanced by cannabinoids. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 20(6):1286-1293, 1999.

    (controlled vaporization reduces the carcinegens to nil. Smoking is bad for you, no question about that, no matter what you smoke.)

    Or the immune system
    Srivastava, M.D.; Srivastava, B.I.; and Brouhard, B. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol alter cytokine production by human immune cells. Immunopharmacology 40(3):179-185, 1998.

    (The research is also not conclusive. Also just about all research sponsored by the USA federal government has to be bent toward proving cannabis harmful. SO just about any research from the USA is politically tainted by its ideological war...pawn that you are you parrot it.

    Marijuana capable of producing psychotic symptoms? Yes.
    Fergusson, David M., John Horwood & Elizabeth M. Ridder, "Tests of Causal Linkages Between Cannabis Use and Psychotic Symptoms," Addiction, Vol. 100, No. 3, March 2005, p. 363.

    (In already vulnerable persons. The threshold for 'psychosis' is very low... Evangelicals are a more psychotic sometimes...)

    The original poster was talking about chronic use, implying ongoing, so let's also examine the effects of current intoxication: Learning and memory are in fact impaired by cannabis:
    Grant, Igor, et al.,(2003) "Non-Acute (Residual) Neurocognitive Effects Of Cannabis Use: A Meta-Analytic Study," Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. Cambridge University Press, 9, p. 685.

    Long term permanent damage? Absolutely, but only to the lungs.

    (I support legalising cannabis and even I wouldnt make that sweeping generalization. It is likely you are correct however.)

    Negative impacts on the brain during ongoing use? Absolutely.

    (Define negative impact? Obviously millions feel its acceptable.)

    Maybe you ought to be familiar with the research yourself before attacking other people? This is just a tiny fraction of all the research conducted. A simple 5 second google search would have turned up all you needed to know to not look like the jackass you do now.

    (Maybe if the state arbitrarily named you a criminal for burning some plant matter, you would be defensive when people parrot the drug war lies?)
  • Re:Good Grief (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SilverspurG (844751) * on Sunday October 16, 2005 @05:18PM (#13805694) Homepage Journal
    I can go on if you'd like...
    Yes, please do. I'm interested to see how many opinion pieces you're going to offer up as clinical proof. And "Phytohemagglutinin-Induced Lymphocyte Transformation in Humans Receiving ..."? That's no more conclusive about marijuana use than the topic article which works on rat brains.

    Please. Tout the FUD in a forum where there isn't a pharmaceutical scientist available to tell you you're full of horse-pooey.

    I'm willing to bet you couldn't even read that article about lymphocytes, much less note where the researchers are lacking in their data analysis.

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