Author: John Carter

Does Weed Kill Brain Cells? Age, Short- and Long-Term Effects, More

does weed cause you to lose brain cells

However, cumulative exposure didn’t appear to affect processing speed or executive function. The researchers reported an association between ongoing marijuana use and cognitive decline. It’s short for cannabidiol, a substance found in both marijuana and hemp plants. CBD can be made into CBD oil and sold as pills, gels, creams, and other formulas. Some people use CBD to treat pain, seizures, and other health problems. But scientists aren’t yet sure how well it works or if it’s safe over the long term.

A study of Marijuana’s effect on IQ revealed individuals who began using Marijuana at a young age lost 6 to 8 points from their IQ by middle age. Moreover, those who smoked Marijuana throughout their adolescence, then stopped, did not regain their IQ points. Conversely, individuals who began using Marijuana in their adulthood did not experience any IQ loss. Long-term and frequent marijuana use probably affects cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and learning, but more research needs to be done to understand how. Next, the results suggest that marijuana use during adolescence may have an irreversible effect on adolescent brain development. Those hurdles include marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance, which requires researchers to earn approval from multiple federal agencies for studies.

Cannabis may also interfere with pharmaceutical medications patients are taking to treat mental health issues. “This could lead to side effects because the medication is in the body longer and at higher concentrations,” he said. In a recent study, he found that a high dose of oral CBD also inhibited the metabolism of THC, so the impairment and the subjective “high” was significantly stronger and lasted for a longer time (JAMA Network Open, Vol. 6, No. 2, 2023). This contradicts the common conception that high levels of CBD reduce the effects of THC, he said.

What about that infamous IQ study?

In one 2016 study, researchers compared changes in the IQ scores of adolescent twins when one used marijuana, and the other did not. Those who used marijuana had an average reduction of 4 IQ points by early adulthood. Keep reading to learn more about what current studies have to say about marijuana’s short- and long-term effects on the brain. The authors found that current users of marijuana performed worse on tests of verbal memory and processing speed. Yet other studies — including this 2015 study — report no significant differences between the brain shape and volume of daily marijuana users and non-users.

  1. Just as years of heavy alcohol, Meth, and Heroin use can cause some irreversible brain damage, prolonged Marijuana abuse can affect the ability of brain cells to convey messages (also known as brain activity).
  2. More research about the short-term and long-term effects of marijuana is needed.
  3. Treatment takes individuals away from triggers that cause relapse.
  4. In our Science of cannabis series, we interrogate the biggest and boldest claims about the drug.
  5. Your airways may be more sensitive, which could cause problems when your doctor puts in or takes out your breathing tube.

Marijuana can have calming effects on the individual, but when overused or combined with other substances can be very harmful. Stopping Marijuana use can be difficult; if you or a loved one struggles to stop or endangers their life, detox and treatment may be required. Treatment takes individuals away from triggers that cause relapse. Meanwhile, counseling can help patients in recovery learn and understand what they need most. Brain image reveals high levels (shown in orange and yellow) of cannabinoid receptors in many areas, including the cortex, hippocampus, cerebellum, and nucleus accumbens (ventral striatum). However, all three substances share some important similarities.

Consider the following if you are experiencing cannabis-related cognitive symptoms:

These receptors connect to nerves in the brain which govern memory, appetite, pain regulation, and mood. As people age, they lose neurons in the hippocampus, which decreases their ability to learn new information. Chronic THC exposure may hasten age-related loss of hippocampal neurons. In one study, rats exposed to THC every day for 8 months (approximately 30% of their lifespan) showed a level of nerve cell loss at 11 to 12 months of age that equaled that of unexposed animals twice their age. There’s still a lot that we don’t know about how marijuana use affects the brain over short- or long-term periods of time. Alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana affect different neurological systems, and as a result have different long-term effects in the brain.

does weed cause you to lose brain cells

APA has been advocating for reforms in cannabis research regulations to ensure that science is available to inform product policies, clinical decisions for therapeutic use, and public understanding about the health effects across the life span. In December 2022, President Joe Biden signed into law the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act—legislation that will make it easier for scientists and manufacturers to study the effects of marijuana and develop guidelines for use. For decades, the University of Mississippi was the only federally approved cultivator of cannabis for scientists, but the new law will allow other entities to manufacture and distribute the drug for research.

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Studies note that early marijuana use can interrupt normal development of gray matter, a type of brain tissue that helps control mental functions, increasing schizophrenia risks. Early exposure to marijuana is also linked to changes in areas of the brain that are often connected with psychosis. To begin to quantify THC levels in different cannabis products available to consumers, Budney leveraged social media to survey more than 5,600 adults who smoked or vaped concentrates or flower (the dried flower bud).

Mixing marijuana with mental health issues

The participants provided highly detailed information, such as how many hits per day and which products they used. The researchers developed mathematical formulas to calculate milligrams of THC consumed per day (Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, online first publication, 2022). Budney is now preparing to launch a survey of 15,000 users who will report not only the detailed information about their cannabis consumption but also how the products are affecting them in terms of depression, anxiety, cannabis use disorder symptoms, and quality of life.

For instance, the odds of addiction are 1 in 6 if you use marijuana in your teens. In one 2017 animal study, researchers compared differences in working memory between adult rats exposed to a synthetic cannabinoid and those exposed to glucose during adolescence. Cannabinoids, such as THC, and naturally occurring endocannabinoids may have significant effects on brain function and development. This is because regions of the brain that control memory, learning, motor control, and sensory perception contain high concentrations of CB1 receptors. The effect Marijuana has on the brain is influenced by the amount a person has smoked and the user’s age. Individuals under 25, whose brains are still developing, are most susceptible to the effects of Marijuana on the brain.

More research is also needed to determine whether each form of use — including smoking, vaping, and ingesting edibles — has a different effect on your brain’s overall health. Many people who use marijuana regularly notice that it boosts their appetite. They call this “the munchies.” Some research suggests that might help people with AIDS, cancer, or other illnesses regain weight. If you use it regularly, you could have the same breathing problems as someone who smokes cigarettes. That’s partly because THC seems to weaken some users’ immune systems. Using marijuana may raise your chances of clinical depression or worsen the symptoms of any mental disorders you already have.

When a person smokes Marijuana, they may notice they struggle with staying focused or recalling important details. This can worsen with prolonged Marijuana use, resulting in problems like poor memory and concentration. If users decide to drive while high, they can endanger their lives and the lives of others. Marijuana use appears to be more harmful for people under the age of 25, whose brains are still developing. First, it was among the first large, longitudinal (long-term) studies to assess marijuana use and cognitive functioning. A well-known 2012 study from New Zealand evaluated marijuana use and cognitive ability in more than 1,000 individuals over a 38-year period.

“This interaction could lead to more adverse events, such as people feeling sedated, dizzy, [or] nervous, or experiencing low blood pressure for longer periods of time,” Vandrey said. Like Jacobus, Jonathan Schaefer, PhD, a researcher in the psychology department at the University of Minnesota, was eager to explore the cause of emotional and cognitive problems among adolescents who used cannabis. He tapped into data collected from more than 3,000 twins who had been followed from adolescence into their early 30s. By comparing identical twins who shared genetics and a home environment, he could better separate the effects of cannabis use on negative outcomes from the effects of these background factors. Some studies have also linked marijuana use to declines in IQ, especially when use starts in adolescence and leads to persistent cannabis use disorder into adulthood.

Specifically, they had fewer connections in parts of the brain linked to alertness, learning, and memory, and tests show lower IQ scores in some people. Recent research suggests that if you start to use marijuana at a young age, use it frequently, and for a long period of time, you could be at risk of having schizophrenia or other mental conditions that involve psychosis. This risk could be higher in young men or people assigned male at birth, especially those 16 to 25 years of age. In a 2016 study, researchers assessed the cognitive function of 3,385 people aged 18–30 by looking at the data from the 25-year-long Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study that began in 1986. At year 25, 84% of these participants reported previous marijuana use, but only 9% reported using marijuana into middle age.