Currently, more than half of the states in America legally allow the use of Marijuana in some form. The medical community has embraced the many benefits it can assist with alleviating pain and/or reducing disease in the body. Additionally, research has shown that in adults, marijuana can be helpful to the brain. However, when it comes to your teen’s brain and marijuana, the results may show differently.
Medical or Merry Marijuana?
Whatever your stance on marijuana use, the fact is that it’s available legally and illegally. According to Governing.com, “Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form.” And, as per an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Marijuana is the most commonly used “illicit” drug in the United States.”
So, whether it’s for medicinal or recreational purposes, there’s clearly a demand.
Regardless, it’s been widely recognized that marijuana may be an effective treatment for symptoms of various medical conditions. Some of them are:
- Nausea from chemotherapy drugs
- Loss of appetite (improve appetite in patients with AIDS or anorexia nervosa)
- Inflammation (reduce inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Parkinson’s, and many other diseases)
- Chronic pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
Your Adult Brain and Cannabinoids
Aside benefitting symptoms of clinical conditions, marijuana has also been proven to have neuroprotective agencies. Cannabinoids actually create new brain cell production and growth.
As we age, neurogenesis (the process of growing new brain cells) slows down. Some results of poor adult neurogenesis are: anxiety, stress, and depression. Marijuana aids in the growth of new cells in the hippocampus. This may be one reason why it has shown to be successful in treating particular mood disorders.
The THC in marijuana has revealed to be a powerful antioxidant for the brain. Because of its neuroprotective properties, it can help clean away brain plaque. The build up of beta-amyloid plaque is one cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Along with Alzheimer’s, other neurodegenerative diseases like MS, Lou Gehrig’s, and Parkinson’s can also benefit from cannabis treatment.
Research has shown that marijuana also aids in attacking cancer cells. Conversely, it does not harm the healthy cells. Studies have provided evidence that cannabis may reduce tumors in the brain. Along with utilizing other therapies, marijuana treatment may halt or reverse the progression of some cancers
Say NO to Brain Trauma and Sports
Most of the research and statistics compiled in regards to the benefits of your brain and marijuana is comprised mainly of adults. Your teen’s brain and marijuana may not react the same as we’ve discussed thus far. On the other hand, it may, but there isn’t nearly enough research or credibility to prove that it does. So, keep in mind, in this section we are sourcing cases solely involving adults.
Henceforth, laboratory studies have shown that cannabis may protect the brain from trauma. Research shows that damage to the brain from a force, a blow, carbon monoxide poisoning, and even stroke may be reduced due to marijuana use. Most importantly, cannabis helps reduce inflammation.
A concussion is trauma to the brain. As we are aware, many athletes are in danger of, or prone to, getting concussions. The antioxidants in cannabis plants can provide protection from neural inflammation. (And a concussion encompasses inflammation of the brain.) There are researchers who believe that certain properties of marijuana may assist in the brain recovering and repairing itself. The CBD in the marijuana may even be helpful—proactively!
CHECK THIS OUT: Evidently, the U.S. government currently has a patent on a non-psychoactive CBD. The intent would be to utilize it as a neuroprotective element—one that would limit brain damage after an accident involving head trauma. That’s a pretty cool bet on the healing properties of marijuana.
A Teen’s Brain and Marijuana is a Complicated Issue
For as much research and speculation, it is still not absolute that marijuana kills brain cells. In fact, as we learned for adults, cannabis helps create new ones. But, with teens the picture is different. The main reason is because the adolescent and teen brain is not fully developed. Most noteworthy, the rational part of the brain isn’t often developed until the age of 25.
The actual use of marijuana may or may not have any detrimental disturbances to the brain directly. Although, more research points to the concern that cannabis may affect the teen brain negatively. Brain-imaging studies sway experts towards the principle that “the teen’s brain and marijuana are not a positive combination.”
Naturally, our nerve cells manufacture cannabinoids, from birth. These cannabinoids play a huge part in how the brain regulates our everyday habits such as: sleeping, eating, remembering, moving around, and our emotions.
When “outside” cannabis is introduced into the still-developing brain, it can create significant changes in those everyday habits. This is worrisome for medical experts because the brain can become wired in an unbalanced fashion in regards to those processes. This doesn’t look like a plus for marijuana teen use.
More Complications for Teens, Including Safety and Learning
It’s the young brain’s inability to make rational decisions that causes the most immediate danger. The prominent negative effects of short-term marijuana use by teens are:
- impaired coordination (driving accidents, risk of increased injuries)
- impaired short-term memory (prohibits learning and retaining new information)
- practice of poor judgment (risk-taking behavior: unprotected sex, reckless driving, illegal activity, pushing the limits)
Part of the brain’s development during the teen years is the strengthening of executive function. One such function would be emotional self-control. Marijuana use may impede this strengthening process. Thus, the youngster may not develop this self-control mechanism as nature intended.
Aside from safety concerns, marijuana-use may plague learning. When under the influence of marijuana, there may be a heightened sense of creativity and flow. That’s terrific. However, it’s been proven that additionally, attention, learning, and memory become impaired. That’s not so fantastic.
It’s tough to build brainpower when the mind is still developing and besieged by a mind-altering substance.
A Teen’s Future…
Your teen’s brain and marijuana may not impact his/her future in a negative way. There are numerous studies that show very-little to no-changes in the brain later in life. And, there are many adults who can attest to having smoked pot as a teen and seem none-the-worse today for having partaken.
However, some of the studies that show negative long-term effects of young-age, marijuana-use are based on heavy, habitual use, starting as adolescents into adulthood. Those are real and can be serious. Some of those effects include:
- addiction to marijuana or other substances
- diminished lifetime achievements
- motor vehicle accidents
- anxiety and/or depression
- chronic bronchitis
The brain is a phenomenally interesting and complex organ. It guides our body from head to toe. Its processes are affected by thousands of neurons, nerves, thoughts, cells, chemicals, and countless other elements. The bottom line is, “How much do you respect your brain?”
For adults with any semblance of gratitude for life, we bow up to the brain. And according to most sources, marijuana is not directly hurting this precious organ. So, using cannabis or not, as an adult, is a personal choice. But, when it comes to teens, their brains don’t have the ability yet to help them make the most appropriate choices. It has to be up to the adults to teach the young the facts. No one said it would be easy…
Check Dr Dave Campbell.com when you’re looking for guidance or tips on best health for your family. Also, if this article resonates with you, you may want to have a look at Dr. Campbell’s best selling book,
The Teen Formula: A Parent’s Guide To Helping Your Child Avoid
Substance Abuse HERE available in paperback or on Kindle.
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