Posted on: March 25, 2016
Heavy and prolonged use of cannabis changes the release of dopamine in the striatum. This in turn has a negative impact on the cognitive functioning of the brain. Rubicon researcher Elsmarieke van de Giessen, who specialises in molecular psychiatry, has drawn this conclusion after a study on the long term effect of cannabis use. Lowered dopamine release was already proven with other addictive drugs, but not with cannabis use alone.
During earlier studies the research only focused on subjects who were addicted to multiple substances, most of which are already known for influencing the release of dopamine. Substances like: cocaine, heroine, nicotine and alcohol. Dopamine is an organic chemical in the brain that functions as a neurotransmitter – a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells. PET scans showed that an addiction to hard drugs like cocaine or heroine influences to dopamine system in the brain. The same effect with only cannabis wasn’t demonstrated until now.
It was quite a challenge to find sufficient subjects for the study since other addictions weren’t allowed. By using a system of measurement that’s really sensitive to dopamine release the study, on eleven subjects, was statistically strong enough. The eleven test subjects were tested positive for marihuana and had to stay clean in the hospital for a weak to be certain that the researchers weren’t just registering the direct effects of marihuana use. The test group ranged in the ages between 22 and 38 years old. On average, they had been heavy marihuana users for seven years.
Van de Giessen examined dopamine release in the striatum and surrounding areas in the brain by making PET scans with a tracer that binds to the dopamine receptors. The PET scans were made before and after a one-time amphetamine stimulation. The amphetamine stimulation has an immediate and accurately measurable effect on the dopamine system. It gives a good impression on the total dopamine release capacity of the brain.
The study concludes that among the group of long term cannabis users less dopamine is released in the striatum than among the control group. A relation was also made between a reduced release of dopamine in the striatum and impulsivity and depressive characteristics. The long term effect of cannabis use among addicts was more impulsivity and depression in comparison to the control group. The more impulsive and depressed the test subject were, the lower their dopamine release.
The study was done at Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute. Elsmarieke van Giessen received a Rubicon grant back in 2011 from NOW. The grant is meant to give young Dutch researchers experience abroad.
Cannabis is a liver toxin. The active ingredient in cannabis, THC, is metabolized by the liver into other compounds. These metabolites are then excreted in the bile and can accumulate in the liver. This can lead to liver damage and liver disease. Cannabis also increases the risk of liver cancer. Cannabinoids are thought to cause liver damage by causing oxidative stress and by promoting inflammation. They may also damage the liver by interfering with liver enzymes that break down other drugs and toxins. In addition, cannabinoids can increase the levels of certain lipids in the blood, which can contribute to fatty liver disease. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the potential liver risks associated with cannabis use.
THC pills are capsules that contain THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. THC pills offer a convenient and discrete way to consume cannabis, and they can be a useful alternative for people who cannot or do not want to smoke. THC pills typically take effect within 30 minutes to an hour, and the effects can last for several hours. The effects of THC pills can vary depending on the dosage, but they may include feelings of relaxation and euphoria, as well as increased appetite and impaired coordination. THC pills can also cause side effects, such as anxiety, paranoia, and dizziness. Therefore, it is important to start with a low dose and increase gradually as needed.
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