A Drug that can make one Smarter,
Calmer, Happier, Healthier?
(Top Posts - Science - 101505)

Hmmmm, perhaps, some day, maybe, -if- the
following study has potency mating to the potency
of the substance studied ...

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Study turns pot wisdom on head
Lab rats given drug 100 times as strong as pot

By DAWN WALTON

Friday, October 14, 2005 Posted at 3:57 AM EDT

From Friday's Globe and Mail

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/
RTGAM.20051014.wxcanna1014/BNStory/specialScienceandHealth/

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Complete article:

Calgary - Forget the stereotype about dopey
potheads. It seems marijuana could be good
for your brain.

While other studies have shown that periodic
use of marijuana can cause memory loss and
impair learning and a host of other health prob-
lems down the road, new research suggests
the drug could have some benefits when
administered regularly in a highly potent form.

Most "drugs of abuse" such as alcohol, heroin,
cocaine and nicotine suppress growth of new
brain cells. However, researchers found that
cannabinoids promoted generation of new
neurons in rats' hippocampuses.

Hippocampuses are the part of the brain
responsible for learning and memory, and
the study held true for either plant-derived
or the synthetic version of cannabinoids.

"This is quite a surprise," said Xia Zhang, an
associate professor with the Neuropsychiatry
Research Unit at the University of Saskatch-
ewan in Saskatoon.

"Chronic use of marijuana may actually improve
learning memory when the new neurons in the
hippocampus can mature in two or three months,"
he added.

The research by Dr. Zhang and a team of inter-
national researchers is to be published in the
November issue of the Journal of Clinical Inves-
tigation, but their findings are on-line now.

The scientists also noticed that cannabinoids
curbed depression and anxiety, which Dr. Zhang
says, suggests a correlation between neuro-
genesis and mood swings. (Or, it at least partly
explains the feelings of relaxation and euphoria
of a pot-induced high.)

Other scientists have suggested that depression
is triggered when too few new brain cells are
created in the hippocampus. One researcher of
neuropharmacology said he was "puzzled" by the
findings.

As enthusiastic as Dr. Zhang is about the potential
health benefits, he warns against running out for
a toke in a bid to beef up brain power or calm
nerves.

The team injected laboratory rats with a synthetic
substance called HU-210, which is similar, but
100 times as potent as THC (delta-9-tetrahydro-
cannabinol), the compound responsible for giving
marijuana users a high.

They found that the rats treated regularly with a
high dose of HU-210 -- twice a day for 10 days --
showed growth of neurons in the hippocampus.
The researchers don't know if pot, which isn't as
pure as the lab-produced version, would have
the same effect.

"There's a big gap between rats and humans,"
Dr. Zhang points out.

But there is a lot of interest -- and controversy --
around the use of cannabinoids to improve
human health.

Cannabinoids, such as marijuana and hashish,
have been used to address pain, nausea,
vomiting, seizures caused by epilepsy, ischemic
stroke, cerebral trauma, tumours, multiple scler-
osis and a host of other maladies.

There are herbal cannabinoids, which come from
the cannabis plant, and the bodies of humans
and animals produce endogenous cannabinoids.
The substance can also be designed in the lab.

Cannabinoids can trigger the body's two canna-
binoid receptors, which control the activity of vari-
ous cells in the body.

One receptor, known as CB1, is found primarily
in the brain. The other receptor, CB2, was thought
to be found only in the immune system.

However, in a separate study to be published
today in the journal Science, a group of interna-
tional researchers have located the CB2 receptor
in the brain stems of rats, mice and ferrets.

The brain stem is responsible for basic body func-
tion such as breathing and the gastrointestinal tract.
If stimulated in a certain way, CB2 could be har-
nessed to eliminate the nausea and vomiting asso-
ciated with post-operative analgesics or cancer
and AIDS treatments, according to the researchers.

"Ultimately, new therapies could be developed as
a result of these findings," said Keith Sharkey, a
gastrointestinal neuroscientist at the University of
Calgary, lead author of the study.

(Scientists are trying to find ways to block CB1 as
a way to decrease food cravings and limit depen-
dence on tobacco.)

When asked whether his findings explain why
some swear by pot as a way to avoid the queasy
feeling of a hangover, Dr. Sharkey paused and
replied: "It does not explain the effects of smoked
or inhaled or ingested substances."

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In response to a poster who commented and
asked: "Line up for your drug induced euphoria
right here... why study, relax, exercise, or lead
an honorable life when you can just get an IV
drip and imagine the same results?"

I replied as follows:

Why study? It's part of life, necessary
to learn, natural, and requisite. The drug
mentioned was, per the study, said to
increase neurons in the area of the brain
which would lead to increased study acu-
men.

Why relax? It's part of life, necessary
for survival, and it's a quality vastly under-
rated in American society, much of the
time (not all), a quality said to have been
increased by use of the mentioned sub-
stance, in the study.

Why exercise? It's part of life, a charac-
teristic that too many do too little of, these
days, simply due to the conveniences
which have led many to have inactive life-
styles. It was not part of the mentioned
study, according to the article.

Why lead an honorable life? One is natur-
ally inclined, most often, to try to live up
to expectations, and in doing so, receive
the designation accepted or honored. How-
ever, one person's idea of honorable is
another person's idea of dishonorable, so
if one lists honor among one's goals, one
must recognize the following:

Some will feel you've lived an honorable
life some or much of the time, some will
feel you've lived a dishonorable life some
or much of the time, and most won't know
or care that you even existed, all of the
time, -if- you're not famous or infamous.

Such is life.

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