With medical marijuana getting thrown around for so many physical and mental health issues, it's only natural to have questions about effects on the teenage brain. After all, cannabis helps manage a wide range of health problems and diseases, but it also has benefits for the human brain. But it's not clear cut for a teenage brain, which is still in development until the age of 25.
As the University of Rochester explains, "In teen's brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That's why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can't explain later what they were thinking. They weren't thinking as much as they were feeling." We can't treat an adolescent brain with the same approach as that of an adult.
If you have questions about the long term effects of cannabis on teenagers, read on as we tackle the effects of marijuana on the teenage brain.
Marijuana can Help the Brain Grow
From infancy to childhood to adulthood, the brain never stops growing. A process called neurogenesis is constantly creating new brain cells. A recent study has shown that marijuana has shown to assist in this process. The researchers discovered that a chemical in marijuana called cannabichromene can boost the growth of developing brain cells, which then promotes neurogenesis. These developing brain cells are an important component of brain health and function.
Another study showed that cannabidiol is a key contributor to brain neurogenesis. The birth of new neurons occurs in the hippocampus, which is a part usually associated with navigation and conscious memory. There is a significant reduction on a person's chances of developing depression and other disorders by strengthening these developing cells,
But on the flip side, research has also shown an increased risk of depression and mental health issues with teenage cannabis use. As one study stated, "Heavy cannabis use has been frequently associated with increased rates of mental illness and cognitive impairment, particularly amongst adolescent users." Cannabis has the opposite effect on the teenage brain than you would hope.
Marijuana can Protect the Brain from Stress
Everyone suffers from at least minor stressors on a day to day basis. Aside from affecting a person's emotional state, it can also change brain function over time. Stress is one of the most common causes of depression and anxiety, which is a growing problem among teenagers and young adults. According to recent research, marijuana can protect the brain from the effects of chronic stress. But, is it safe for teenagers?
These researchers discovered cannabinoids in marijuana can protect against the deficits and disorders of brain damage due to stress. The same study showed that daily doses of tetrahydrocannabinol appeared to improve short-term memory in the subjects when compared to those that were untreated. Also, the subjects administered with THC showed signs of greater learning ability. But, like almost all studies on the medicinal benefits of cannabis, this study didn't work with teenagers.
With what we know about the long term health effects of heavy cannabis use by young minds, it's best to seek other alternative treatments for teenage stress and anxiety.
Marijuana can Help Fight Brain Cancer
Brain cancer is one of the most brutal kinds of cancers today. However, numerous studies have shown that the cannabinoids found in marijuana possess anti-cancer properties. Recently, a preliminary study found out that THC can kill brain cancer cells. Results showed that THC caused the tumors to shrink after administering this component to mice with brain tumors. These anti-cancer properties are all thanks to the human body's cannabinoid receptors.
According to the study, these effects were mediated through the joint reaction of GPR55 and CB2, which are two members of the cannabinoid receptor family. The findings can help explain one of the most popular but still poorly understood effects of tetrahydrocannabinol on tumor growth at both high and low doses.
Even though it has already been proven that cannabis oil can reduce tumor size, cancer patients should not self-medicate without consulting their doctor first. Cannabis works best as a part of a larger and more comprehensive cancer treatment plant.
Marijuana Effect on the Teenage Brain
Not surprisingly, it's difficult to study cannabis use and the teenage brain. While many cannabis lovers began smoking in their early years, scientists are still trying to figure out what long term damage this created. Thus far, most studies strongly suggest that heavy use, in early adulthood, leads to several serious issues later in life.
As one longitudinal study published in 2017 concluded, "repeated exposure to cannabis during adolescence may have detrimental effects on brain resting functional connectivity, intelligence, and cognitive function." Unless cannabis is prescribed by a healthcare professional, for chronic disease, its recommended teenagers avoid it.
Keywords: medicial marijuana, cannabis
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