Medical marijuana is sweeping the nation. Several states have already legalized its use and, I predict that, not too far in the future, the entire country will legalize the controversial substance. Now, I wouldn’t recommend smoking anything – as the act of drawing smoke into your lungs from any substance can cause inflammation and damage your airways. But, I have to admit the research on marijuana is compelling for all the benefits it could have on your health – especially preserving your brain function. I know that may sound contradictory, but let’s look at the research facts…
Marijuana: This Controversial Substance May Protect Your Brain
The stereotype of someone using marijuana is one of a stoned out “hippie” with long hair and a headband around their forehead flashing the peace sign. Clearer thinking and better concentration is probably the last hallmarks you usually would associate with marijuana use.
Yet, new research out of Germany’s University of Bonn has shown that the cannabinoids in marijuana may actually help you do just that – think more clearly and concentrate better. Cannabinoids, shown in their research – as well as numerous other studies – were found to actually be protective to your brain. They were shown to protect against brain degradation and even reverse dementia.
The reason behind this is that the cannabinoids in marijuana, like other substances from the plant world, are powerful antioxidants. You’ve read many of my articles that talk about the positive affects that powerful antioxidants have on the health of your entire body. They fight free radical damage to DNA throughout your body and fight inflammation – the precursor to many of the diseases of aging like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Inflammation has also been found to be the culprit in many degenerative brain diseases – like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, et al. In the case of cannabinoids, the study showed that their strong antioxidant nature has a dampening effect on inflammatory processes in the brain. They also reported that cannabinoids are the only class of “drugs” that have allowed them to reduce brain inflammation and actually restore cognitive function in lab animals.
They actually helped clean damaging toxins from the brain as well as stimulated the production of new brain cells. I have to admit, that bit of information was hard for me to believe as many other “feel good” recreational substances like alcohol, pills, heroin, methamphetamines, etc, have the opposite effect of greatly damaging brain cells. The German study also showed that marijuana use seems to regulate mitochondria – the energy cells of the brain. Could it be that using marijuana would actually “energize” your brain cells and help them stay healthy?
As a result of their study, the researchers concluded that patients with Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as premature brain aging from other origins, who used medical marijuana may be able to overcome the symptoms of their conditions and regain more normal functioning. Yet, the pervading opinion, held by many people, is that marijuana usage is a health-damaging activity.
But why should it be? Like other strong antioxidant groups found naturally in the plant world, flavonoids, phenols, carotenoids, vitamins C and E, minerals selenium, zinc, glutathione, alpha-lipoic acid, and many others, cannabinoids is just one more. Why should it be demonized because it comes from a plant that people, typically, use for recreational enjoyment? Cannabinoids are just a group of powerful antioxidants that are released through ingesting marijuana in either their “medical” form – such as pills, added to foods, etc, or the traditional route of smoking it.
Cannabinoids have been shown in numerous research studies to greatly alleviate symptoms, if not restore normal function, in many debilitating health conditions. It has been shown to help many conditions including calming the chronic pain of arthritis, relieving anxiety, tics and tremors of certain neurologic disorders like Tourette’s and MS.
It helps with insomnia, slowed down the growth of cancers and helped kill cancer cells in lab tests, helps glaucoma, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, reduces blood pressure, and even helps fight HIV virus from progressing, just to name a few. And if it can also help treat the disabling symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and others, it may help restore function to thousands of older Americans whose lives and independence have been stolen from crippling brain diseases.
I don’t want to get too much into the “politics of pot”, as I simply look at the many health benefits that have been ascribed to marijuana – in its medical or natural form. The German researchers feel that, and I would tend to agree, despite the positive findings for the use of marijuana, the big drug companies see the liberalization of marijuana laws as a threat against their control over costs and production time. But as a doctor, I have to ask, why are we not making more good use of its health-preserving benefits instead of treating people with toxic drugs that have more proven side effects than marijuana?
I’ll let you be the judge – do your research, weigh the facts against the myths, and decide for yourself if using marijuana offers you any health benefits for your particular condition.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
10 Top Health Benefits of Marijuana, http://www.trueactivist.com/still-believe-nature-got-it-wrong-top-10-health-benefits-of-marijuana/
Plant antioxidants, http://www.granolas.com/docs/CP/239/Antioxidants101.pdf