Marijuana’s path from illicit street drug to possible medical treatment tool continues to be confusing as a recent study, published in Behavioural Brain Research and Experimental Brain Research, suggests that ultra-low doses of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuana) not only induce minor brain damage, but that the small brain damage may be able to “precondition” the brain to make it more protected from future significant brain damage or trauma.
The study, led by Dr. Yosef Sarne of Tel Aviv University’s Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases, observed mice who were injected with a single dose of THC, estimated to be between 1,000 to 10,000 times less than what is recreationally consumed, days before they were exposed to brain trauma.
What they saw after the injury was incurred surprised them. The mice seemed to have enhanced biochemical processes, which they believe protected brain cells and preserved cognitive function over time, compared to the mice who were untreated. The mice were examined three to seven weeks after the brain injury, where Sarne and his colleagues say that the THC group outperformed the other mice in learning and memory tests. They also showed increased amounts of neuroprotective chemicals when compared to the control group.
The animal test is only the beginning for the trials this treatment will go through, but Sarne believes the treatment should be translatable to humans. “Since we deal, in this case, in a basic process (THC is protective against a variety of insults, not just a specific condition), I personally believe it will go beyond rodents,” Sarne told Fox News.