DEC 03, 2015 4:58 AM PST

High Potency Pot and Your Brain

Stronger is not always better. While it’s good to have strong muscles and bones, when it comes to pot, the strong stuff, with high levels of THC can be a problem. While it’s well documented that marijuana can have adverse effects on the brain a study published recently points to evidence that the strength of certain strains of cannabis has a direct effect on an integral part of the brain structure.
 

High THC pot can damage the brain


The corpus callosum is the dividing line between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It’s the largest collection of white matter in the brain and it’s what allows neural activity and signals to pass from one part of the brain to the other. The axons, which are outcroppings of groups of nerve cells, meet in this area and carry electrical impulses to the entire brain, almost like an old fashioned switchboard.
 
The study, “Effect of high-potency cannabis on corpus callosum microstructure” by scientists from Kings College in London and Sapienza University in Rome used MRI scans and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) to examine the brains of over 100 study participants. 53 of the participants were patients being treated at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) for their first incidence of a psychotic episode. The remaining participants were healthy people from the surrounding area.
 
In the UK, where the study was conducted, high potency pot is referred to as “Skunk weed” for its distinctive strong odor. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the chemical in marijuana that produces the high or euphoric feeling associated with the drug. In most pot that is available now, levels of THC  are higher than in previous years, so the trend is toward higher potency pot. Research published in February 2015 showed a link between this stronger form of marijuana and an increased risk of psychosis.
 
In a press release from Kings College London, Dr Paola Dazzan, the senior researcher on the study, said, "We found that frequent use of high potency cannabis significantly affects the structure of white matter fibres in the brain, whether you have psychosis or not. This reflects a sliding scale where the more cannabis you smoke and the higher the potency, the worse the damage will be.” Study co-author Dr Tiago Reis Marques, a senior research fellow from the IoPPN at King’s College London,  added "This white matter damage was significantly greater among heavy users of high potency cannabis than in occasional or low potency users, and was also independent of the presence of a psychotic disorder.”
 
In addition to the vital role the corpus callosum plays in brain activity, it also happens to have a large number of cannabinoid receptors, more so than in any other part of the brain. The study found that frequent use of high potency cannabis was linked to significantly higher mean-diffusivity (MD) in the corpus callosum, which is an indicator of damage to white matter. 
 
Funds for the study were provided by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London.
 
Check out the video below to learn more about this study.
 

 

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
APR 28, 2021
Health & Medicine
Adolescent Cannabis - No Long Term Cognitive Effects, But Still an Impact
APR 28, 2021
Adolescent Cannabis - No Long Term Cognitive Effects, But Still an Impact
An ongoing study that observes the cognitive, mental health and socioeconomic outcomes of twins has come to the conclusi ...
MAY 19, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis May Reduce Pain in Treatment-Resistant Fibromyalgia
MAY 19, 2021
Cannabis May Reduce Pain in Treatment-Resistant Fibromyalgia
An Italian researcher found that long-term use of various cannabis products, including herbal cannabis and oil extracts, ...
JUN 05, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Washington State University Opens Cannabis Research Center
JUN 05, 2021
Washington State University Opens Cannabis Research Center
Washington State University (WSU) has announced the opening of a multi-disciplinary research center with nearly 100 scie ...
JUL 14, 2021
Health & Medicine
Is Cannabis an Aid to Athletic Performance?
JUL 14, 2021
Is Cannabis an Aid to Athletic Performance?
Does cannabis act as a performance enhancer for sports people? You'd assume the answer might be yes given 100 meter ...
AUG 28, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Could Eye-tracking Data Detect THC Levels?
AUG 28, 2021
Could Eye-tracking Data Detect THC Levels?
Eye-tracking data shows promise for detecting levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The corresponding study was publishe ...
SEP 09, 2021
Health & Medicine
Cannabis and Pain Management- A Double Edged Sword?
SEP 09, 2021
Cannabis and Pain Management- A Double Edged Sword?
In 2016 it was estimated by the CDC that 20.4% of Americans have chronic pain. Chronic pain is a primary reaso ...
Loading Comments...