Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Keep Off On The Grass

A Brain Link from the ABC :
Canadian researchers have discovered that smoking marijuana could improve a person's memory and mood.

A team at the University of Saskatchewan headed by Xia Zhang found that injections of a potent HU210 synthetic substance that mimics the active ingredients in cannabis increases the production of neurones in the hippocampus area of the brain in rats.

The region is associated with learning and memory, as well as anxiety and depression.

Mr Zhang and his colleagues believe that these negative emotions are caused by a lack of cell growth in this region of the brain.

Other recent studies showed growth in brain cells in the hippocampus lessened anxiety and depression.

In contrast, other recreational drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and heroine suppress growth of new brain cells.

"The implication is that smoking marijuana is a good thing," Mr Zhang told AFP.

The discovery may eventually lead to the next blockbuster anti-depressant drug treatment, he says.

"It is possible this might overtake Prozac," he said.

Of course, it has only been proven in rats so far. And, HU210 is a purified substance 100 times stronger than the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana.

The study will be published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in November.
Before everyone leaves no turn unstoned, it's worth looking at the details: To get a therapeutic dose of THC large enough might take really significant quantities of hash oil. And refined THC is difficult to get, what's available "on the street" is stuff of unknown purity and strength, and of course isn't purified THC, but a concoction of lots of chemical compounds, including carcinogens. Smoking the stuff is hazardous to your health, even if it does have the benefits stated.

Oh yes, it also makes you dysfunctional, "stoned". There's evidence to show that if you don't use a lot, the neurotransmitters get "fatigued", and you get semi-permanent depression and memory loss. The other neuroactive chemicals also may produce some really bad effects.

I have far too much respect for my own neuroanatomy to take anything too powerful without medical supervision, be it a MAO inhibitor, selective Serotonin Uptake inhibitor, or more than small amounts of alcohol. I don't overclock my computer CPU for safety reasons, and I'll be darned if I'm more careful with my computer than with my cerebral cortex.

There's also the matter of my security clearance... recreational drug use is right out. Apart from Chocolate, which when combined with high levels of oestrogen and low levels of testosterone in the system has a most intriguing effect....

Finally, I'm allergic to the plant, Cannabis Sattiva (Indian Hemp). I used to go fishing woth my father when young, and we mixed hemp seeds (it grew wild on the river banks) with the bread we used as burley to attract the fish. Made them much easier to catch. But I must have gotten a seed under my nails, or some husk in my skin when I accidentally pierced myself with a fishhook. Anyway, I'm sensitised. Not to THC, just the rest of the chemical mix. I reckon I must be one of the few students of the 70's never to have tried it in any form. I had to leave the room if someone lit up, and not enter again for days.

Maybe it's just a case of Sour Grapes, but I don't believe that the Grass is Greener.
HU210 on the other hand might be useful pharmacologically. And with 100 times the effect of THC, might give a buzz that's astronomical.

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