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October 2005
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How are your brain cells?

One of the classic reefer madness claims was that smoking pot would destroy your brain cells. Even though that was thoroughly debunked long ago, this wrong-headed assertion still pops up regularly. Not a single legitimate study has found any long-term damage to the brain from marijuana use.
Now a new study indicates that pot may actually increase your brain cells!

Cannabinoids promote neurogenesis in embryonic and adult rats, and produce anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects, according to a new report in the current issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation. The effects appear to contradict those seen from other studied drugs of abuse, the authors note.

“Most drugs of abuse such as nicotine, heroine, and cocaine suppress neurogenesis in these cells, but the effects of cannabinoids weren’t clear. We show that cannabinoids, in fact, promote neurogenesis,” study author Xia Zhang of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, told The Scientist.

Now before you rush out and try to gain some brain, be aware that this is only a preliminary finding that shows some interesting results; it doesn’t involve humans or smoking; and there’s much more to learn. However, the good news is that this will generate interest (the press is already having a lot of fun with this) which will encourage more research in this area.
And the thing is, for those who have studied and observed the effects and use (as opposed to abuse) of marijuana, none of these results are particularly surprising.

[Thanks, kwix]

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