Concentrated Cannabis Can Damage Brain's White Matter

Share this content:

the Psychiatry Advisor take:

Smoking a highly concentrated type of marijuana can damage a region of the brain that allows for communication between the two hemispheres.

Paola Dazzan, PhD, of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London, and colleagues used a type of magnetic resonance imaging, diffusion tensor imaging, to examine white matter in the brains of 56 patients who had a reported first episode of psychosis and 43 healthy controls.

The researchers focused on the corpus callosum, the brain’s largest white matter structure, consisting of bundles of nerve cell projections known as axons that facilitates communication between different regions of the brain. The corpus callosum also has a plethora of cannibinoid receptors, which tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in cannabis, is attracted to.

Frequent use of high-potency marijuana was associated with a higher level of mean diffusivity, a measure of white matter damage.

Researchers noted that there is a significant need to educate clinicians about the dangers associated with cannabis use and to pass that on to patients.

“'As we have suggested previously, when assessing cannabis use it is extremely important to gather information on how often and what type of cannabis is being used,” Tiago Reis Marques, PhD, a senior research fellow at the IoPPN said in a statement. “These details can help quantify the risk of mental health problems and increase awareness on the type of damage these substances can do to the brain.”

adults smoking marijuana
Frequent use of high-potency marijuana was associated with a higher level of white matter damage.

Smoking high potency 'skunk-like' cannabis can damage a crucial part of the brain responsible for communication between the two brain hemispheres, according to a new study by scientists from King's College London and Sapienza University of Rome.

Researchers have known for some time that long-term cannabis use increases the risk of psychosis, and recent evidence suggests that alterations in brain function and structure may be responsible for this greater vulnerability. However, this new research, published in Psychological Medicine, is the first to examine the effect of cannabis potency on brain structure.

Exploring the impact of cannabis potency is particularly important since today's high potency 'skunk-like'products have been shown to contain higher proportions of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than they did around a decade ago.

READ FULL ARTICLE From Medical Express
You must be a registered member of Psychiatry Advisor to post a comment.

Sign Up for Free e-newsletters