THC Helps Brains Heal From Injury, Study Finds

A new study has found the administration of THC may promote “significant” recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI). 

Published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research journal, the findings could play a huge role in helping people recover their working memory and locomotor function following brain injuries. 

“Administration of the phytocannabinoid THC promotes significant recovery from TBI and is associated with upregulation of brain G-CSF, BDNF, and GDNF, neurotrophic factors previously shown to mediate brain self-repair following TBI and stroke,” the study concludes. 

New findings 

Published in August, the study saw a research team based at the University of South Florida treat brain damaged mice with THC. 

Researchers measured variations in their working memory and locomotor function at baseline (first day), then on day three, day seven, and day fourteen. 

Authors of the study found “marked improvement” in the mice – suggesting that THC could reverse the effects of memory loss following a traumatic brain injury. 

They found an up-regulation of three proteins in the brain after the administration of THC – G-CSF, BDNF, and GDNF – which have previously been shown to mediate self-repair of the brain. 

Additionally, mice treated with THC appeared to experience an up-regulation of 2-AG, which is a major endocannabinoid produced by the body and helps maintain homeostasis in the body by activating CB-1 and CB-2 receptors. 

CB-1 receptors, in particular, are in high concentration in parts of the brain.  

Researchers said the endocannabinoid system seems to play an important role in mediating brain repair after the levels of endocannabinoid ligand 2-AG increased in all three areas of the brain following days seven and fourteen of the study. 

Further research  

While it appears that the administration of THC for traumatic brain injury looks extremely promising, the study only involved mice. 

Therefore, more and larger studies involving people suffering from TBI are needed.  

“Improvement in working memory was associated with upregulation of BDNF, GDNF, and G-CSF in the cerebral cortex, striatum, and hippocampus,” the authors of the study stated.  

“In addition, levels of the most abundant endocannabinoid ligand, 2-AG, were increased in the Δ9-THC-treated mice compared with controls. 

“Increased brain levels of 2-AG, produced by inhibiting its breakdown, are reported to mediate recovery of working memory and fine motor function in a mouse model of TBI. 

“Treatment of mice with Δ9-THC following CCI resulted in time-dependent recovery of short-term spatial working memory. Further research is required to elucidate the role of the [endocannabinoid system] in mediating the recovery from injury,” they concluded. 

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