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Israeli scientists find marijuana helps prevent brain and heart damage

By Mason White 2:39 PM June 10, 2013
Medical marijuana illustration 

By: Debbie Gross
Israeli scientists said a study showed that marijuana helps prevent brain and heart damage in animals.

The recently completed study is further evidence that cannabinoids are both neuroprotective and cardioprotective.
The new findings from Israel shows the ability of low doses of THC in preventing brain damage in animals.

Professor Yosef Sarne in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Tel Aviv University said that cannabis has neuroprotective properties. He has found that extremely low doses of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, protects the brain from long-term cognitive impairment as a result of injury from lack of oxygen, seizures, or toxic drugs.

Previous studies focused on the injection of high doses of THC in a very short time, about 30 minutes, before or after the injury. Sarne’s findings in Behavioural Brain Research and Experimental Brain Research showed that even very low doses of THC, about 1,000 to 10,000 times lower than that of a conventional joint, administered in a wide window of 1 to 7 days before or 1 to 3 days after injury may trigger biochemical processes that protect brain cells and preserve cognitive function over time.

In the laboratory, researchers injected mice with a single low dose of THC, either before or after exposure to trauma. Another group of mice suffered brain injury, but did not receive treatment with THC. When the mice were examined 3 to 7 weeks after the initial injury, those receiving treatment with THC performed better in behavioral tests that measure learning and memory.

Additional biochemical studies showed increased amounts of neuroprotective chemicals in the treatment group compared to the non treated group.

This treatment, especially in light of the long time frame for the administration and the low dose, could be applicable to many brain injury cases and safer over time, Sarne said.