The more people know about cannabis, the more they are using. At least that’s what a survey of Americans found. Between 2001 and 2014, the number of folks who consume cannabis has more than doubled. In the first year of the new millennium, 4.1 percent of adults polled said they had smoke weed. But in 2014, 9.5 percent said so. And that increase is across the board. More adults are using cannabis to treat the symptoms of illnesses and disorders, while recreational use has also risen significantly. Of that 9.5 percent who smoke marijuana, however, 9 percent will develop some addiction to it. And it’s those people, the folks who consume cannabis on a daily basis, who brain researchers say are at risk of the first negative side effect found by the scientific study.
The First Negative Side Effect of Cannabis Use
Obviously, legalization has played a significant role in the uptick of adult cannabis users. The spread of real information, not stigmatizing stereotypes about the drug, is another major factor. More people are learning about the relative safety of marijuana compared to other medicines. In fact, there is little evidence that moderate cannabis use causes any significant damage in adults with fully developed brains.
But it’s a different story for chronic users of the chronic. According to Dr. Elisabeth Jorandby, a researcher at Amen Clinics Inc. in California, chronic cannabis use raises the chance of Alzheimer’s disease. Jorandby’s team, who published their research in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, base their claims on how cannabis affects blood flow to the brain. They say heavy microdoses use can restrict blood flow throughout the brain, especially in the region where Alzheimer’s originates. It was there, in the hippocampus, where researchers saw the greatest reduction in blood. Unfortunately, that is also the part of the brain associated with memory and learning.
Brain Researchers Also Say Cannabis Can Help Fight Alzheimer’s
It’s important to note, however, that Jorandby’s study only looked at how marijuana use impacts the flow of blood in the brain. It’s an important and groundbreaking research because few previous studies have examined how blood flow is related to cannabis use. However, the possible link to Alzheimer’s is, for now, just a possibility. And it’s based on other research that says reduced blood flow can increase the risk of brain diseases.
Other studies, though, have stated that cannabis could help fight Alzheimer’s. These studies say that microdoses of active THC protect nerves. It also helps prevent Alzheimer’s by removing the buildup of plaque and inflammation researchers think causes the disease. In other words, cannabis lowers some toxic proteins and nerve inflammation. Making the THC cannabinoid a potent way to keep brain cells alive.
Cannabis and the Brain
The chemistry of cannabis is complex. Only further research will help users understand the full impact of the drug on their bodies and health. Knowing about possible negative side effects is an important way to stay informed, especially if you are a regular or daily smoker. Alzheimer’s impacts about 5.4 million people and rising. Figuring out how to use cannabis in the fight against brain disease is rightfully a top priority for brain researchers.