Recent clinical research indicates that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the most active component of marijuana, can successfully alleviate symptoms associated with anxiety, sadness, and even certain types of cancer. However, evidence indicates that chronic marijuana users may be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease.
The link between marijuana and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease
The study, which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, examined 2,600 participants.
The authors sought to establish whether the movement of blood (perfusion) through specific brain regions on functional neuroimaging (such as those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease) is altered in chronic marijuana users in a negative way.
The report’s subjects were divided into two groups: the control group, which did not ingest cannabis on a regular basis, and the experiment group, which did.
Neuroimaging was performed using single-photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT for short.
According to the findings, the experiment group’s blood flow was significantly reduced in every part of the brain. This was notably true in the hippocampus–a region critical for neurodegenerative diagnosis. The hippocampus’s atrophy is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease in particular.
“Few studies have examined the effect of marijuana use on regional cerebral blood flow,” the new paper’s authors said. “Spectroscopy of multiple brain regions reveals decreased perfusion in marijuana users. The hippocampus, which is the most predictive region for marijuana users versus healthy controls, is a critical target of Alzheimer’s disease pathology. This study raises the prospect of marijuana use having detrimental brain effects.”
Consequences of marijuana administration in Alzheimer’s disease
Reduced blood supply to the hippocampus hinders our ability to retain memories and perform daily tasks over time.
“As a physician who sees marijuana users on a regular basis, what struck me was not only the overall decrease in blood flow in marijuana users’ brains, but also the fact that the hippocampus was the most affected region, owing to its role in memory and Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Jorandby, who co-authored the new paper.
While these implications are not unique, the exhaustive procedures used to confirm them are. Those diagnosed with cannabis use disorder were meticulously compared to those who smoked infrequently or not at all.
“Using perfusion neuroimaging with SPECT at rest and during a concentration task, individuals diagnosed with cannabis use disorder using DSM-IV or DSM-V criteria (n = 982) were compared to controls (n = 92). Estimates of perfusion were estimated using a standard atlas. The differences in cerebral perfusion were calculated using one-way ANOVA. Discriminant analysis of all participants was used to determine diagnostic separation,” the authors stated of their methodology.
Even among advocates, there is widespread agreement that recreational cannabis usage should be closely supervised by the user.
The difficulty is that buzzword topics frequently become mired in phrases and agendas. There is no one in public service who does not have something to gain or lose as a result of their stance on marijuana smoking.
Kevin Hill, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, makes an attempt to sift through the political tangles in order to provide an accurate appraisal of the popular substance.
“We now know a great deal more about both the benefits and risks associated with cannabis use, though I would argue that the pace and scope of research have not kept up with interest. There is a growing corpus of literature on the therapeutic use of cannabis, and similarly, we are learning about the difficulties connected with cannabis usage in bits and pieces. However, our expanded understanding pales in contrast to the widespread public interest, and as a result, one of the challenges we frequently encounter is a growing split between what science says and what public perception is,” Dr. Hill wrote in his recent dissertation on the subject.
“Dose is significant. When it comes to the negative effects of cannabis, young people who use it consistently can experience cognitive issues, including an eight-point drop in IQ over time. It has been shown to exacerbate depression. It has the potential to exacerbate anxiety. However, all of these outcomes are dose-dependent. The research that demonstrate those effects are based on young people who use almost daily. They are frequent cannabis users who frequently match the criteria for cannabis use disorder. As a result, when opponents of cannabis discuss the hazards, they leave that out.”
If we use the study literature as a kind of yardstick in our ongoing cannabis discussion, we recognize that, like anything else, the drug works best when used in moderation and causes the most harm when users are dishonest about the drug’s destructive potential.