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Contrary to the warnings about its ill effects, marijuana may actually have some benefits, including improving stamina and removing damaged brain cells.
This was suggested in a new study by Andras Biokei-Gorzo at the Institute of Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Bonn in Germany.
But lest people think of marijuana as a wonder drug, Biokei-Gorzo also cautioned that more studies about their therapeutic effects may be needed, saying clinical evidence of their efficacy is "either inconclusive or still missing."
"In preclinical models of neurodegenerative disorders, cannabinoids show beneficial effects, but the clinical evidence regarding their efficacy as therapeutic tools is either inconclusive or still missing," Biokey-Gorzo said.
An article on Collective Evolution said the study suggested the activation of the brain’s cannabinoid system triggers the release of antioxidants, which act as a cleansing mechanism.
Such a process may remove damaged cells and improve the efficiency of mitochondria, the energy source that powers cells, it added.
"These discoveries shed new insight on how natural marijuana cannabinoids hold the capacity to literally kill the brain inflammation responsible for causing cognitive decline, neural failure, and brain degeneration. By supplying these receptor sites with cannabinoids, patients may be able to overcome brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and more, not to mention premature brain aging," it said.
It added the human brain contains a network of special receptor sites that modulate nervous system function only when activated by the appropriate cannabinoid compounds, "which are found in the marijuana plant."
With this, it said increasing cannabinoid system activity could be a "promising strategy for slowing down the progression of brain aging and for alleviating the systems of neurodegenerative disorders."
Collective Evolution also quoted Gery Wenk, a professor of neuroscience, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University, as saying this is a positive step.
Wenk, who conducted some of the research that came out of the study from Germany, added it was encouraging to see the potential development of cannabinoid solutions "without going overboard."
"I’ve been trying to find a drug that will reduce brain inflammation and restore cognitive function in rats for over 25 years; cannabinoids are the first and only class of drugs that have ever been effective. I think that the perception about this drug is changing and in the future people will be less fearful," he said.
Social, political challenges
But Collective Evolution quoted Biokei-Gorzo and his colleagues as saying the greatest hurdle to their research are social and political challenges.
They said the powers that be do not want to legalize marijuana, adding that if it were legalized, it "would be distributed and tweaked by big pharmaceutical companies." — TJD, GMA News