We have published some articles in the past urging for medical use of marijuana. Our goal is to let you know the health benefits of marijuana.
However, as we continue to do that, we are also monitoring closely the other side of using marijuana which could be harmful to your health as well.
And through our close monitoring, we have found that a new study published in November, 2015 has revealed that people who smoke high-potency of marijuana risk degrading connections in part of their brain that connects the two hemispheres in the brain.
The study was done by a team of European researchers. They concluded that there is an urgent need to educate the public, health professionals, and policymakers about the risks involved with using high potency marijuana, also known as “skunk.”
According to the scientists from King’s College London and Sapienza University of Rome, “skunk-like” cannabis can damage the white matter (link is external) nerve fibers responsible for communication between the two brain hemispheres of the cerebrum (link is external) (Latin for “brain”).
The researchers examined people who smoked marijuana at varying levels of frequency and potency and found those who smoked the high-potency pot (with higher-than-normal concentrations of THC, weed’s most well-known active ingredient) had “altered microstructural integrity” in the part of the brain called the corpus callosum.
According to brain experts, the corpus callosum does not just physically connect the two halves of the brain but also serves as the information highway that passes messages between the right and left sides of the brain. While the whole right-brain-left-brain personalities thing is a myth and people can live with just half a brain, you still want to have that corpus callosum functioning properly if possible, especially if the particular changes in the brain structure may lead to psychosis.
The researchers said they only took snapshots of people’s brains and asked them about their marijuana habits, including the type of marijuana they smoke.
The Guardian reports that this is the first time a study has exclusively looked at the effect of cannabis potency on the brain. Other studies in the past focused on frequency of use and age of first use by people.
The results of the study still need to be confirmed. But the researchers have warned against using high-strength weed. Lead author of the study, Paola Dazzan told the Guardian that the concern attached to drinking alcohol should also be attached to smoking marijuana.
“When it comes to alcohol, we are used to thinking about how much people drink, and whether they are drinking wine, beer, or whisky. We should think of cannabis in a similar way, in terms of THC and the different contents cannabis can have, and potentially the effects on health will be different”, Dazzan said.
Another area of particular concern to brain researchers is whether marijuana causes psychosis. And the researchers said they believe their new findings will lead to further discoveries on that mental disorder. People who suffer from psychosis showed similar structural brain changes as people who use high potency marijuana.
As it stands now, researchers are not sure how or if cannabis affects the brain in a way that leads to psychosis. What is available is hypothetical guess by practitioners.
For example, according to review in the journal Annual Reviews, there is some literature suggesting a connection between cannabis and psychosis, but no studies proving that long-term use of weed will lead to psychosis. But studies do find that starting smoking in adolescence is associated with greater chances of developing psychosis later in life, even if you stop smoking later on.
But all-in-all, the current study suggests one potential mechanism, assuming future research can establish that cause-and-effect relationship. But until that is done, we highly recommend that you check the type of marijuana you are using. Do not use the one that will give you health problems.