How Much Does Science Know About Cannabis and the Brain?

How Much Does Science Know About Cannabis and the Brain?

Could cannabis affect your brain structure or its function? While researchers are trying to answer these (and other) questions, the science remains unsettled.  

While some studies say that cannabis could cure brain cancer, others suggest the plant could actually have bad long-term effects on the brain.

Let’s take a look at a couple of recent studies:

No Effect on the Structure of the Brain

A recent study in the medical journal European Neuropsychopharmacology found that marijuana has no discernible effect on the cortical structure of the brain.

“Our results revealed that cortical morphology was not associated with cannabis use, dependence, or onset age,” researchers found.  

In other words, using cannabis doesn’t change your brain structure — at least not according to the conditions used in this study. But does this mean that cannabis is definitely safe for your brain? Not exactly.

It’s just one study, which isn’t enough to prove — or disprove — the potential harmfulness of cannabis. For example, the study doesn’t explore possible effects on a molecular or psychological level.

Could Cannabis Cure Brain Cancer?

While the previous study was inconclusive about pot’s affect on the brain, another researcher believes in the healing qualities of the plant, especially when it comes to combatting brain cancer.

Many patients use cannabis to reduce the nausea associated with chemotherapy, but studies have shown that cannabis could actually help treat cancer.

According to a recent report by 9News in Australia, neurosurgeon Dr. Charlie Teo is heading up a clinical trial to see if medical cannabis could be used to treat Glioblastoma, which Teo calls “one of the most aggressive cancers known to mankind.”

The study aims to determine if cannabis oil with high THC can ease the symptoms associated with cancer, as well as the potential of the ability of cannabis oil to slowing the growth of the disease.

The Complexity of the Issue

It’s important to remember that the brain is very complex, and that even the best medical practitioners and researchers don’t know all of its secrets. Marijuana could be beneficial to someone with a certain type of brain disease, but could have negative effects on someone else’s brain. Long-term studies should be conducted for every type of disease — with every type of cannabis available — if we want to be sure about all the possible benefits and risks.

For now, it’s safe to say that cannabis doesn’t seem to have a negative short-term effect on the brain. As for the long-term effects, they might be negative (cognitive impairments) or positive (curing brain cancer). New scientific findings and trials will ultimately be needed to determine which.