A study released by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, has reported that those who smoke marijuana, only recreationally, develop brain abnormalities. Before I get into the details of the study, let me say this is no surprise to me as it is well known that thinking is altered for those using marijuana. The legal status of marijuana has brought this substance’s use into the forefront. Medical marijuana use has been advocated for some time as a treatment for chronic pain, inflammation, glaucoma, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, and seizures just to name a few medical uses. Chronic pain, regardless of the source, is not good for the body. Numerous companies are growing different plants, and advertising will not be far behind, as the world is searching for relief of pain and suffering.
Remember, everything we put into our bodies has an effect. The food, good and bad, the thoughts, good and bad, the toxins, and even medications have side effects. I cannot think of one medication that is without a side effect. Even a baby aspirin has side effects. Everyone knows that fatty foods are not the best thing. Many know that sitting around and not moving, not drinking water, or not resting enough may stress the body. Some even realize that seeing people kill each other or being entertained all the time may be inputs that are not best for our bodies. I want the Heartwise family to realize that all inputs have risks. Some inputs have benefits. Marijuana is one of the substances that is being used more and more. There are risks. This study shows that the brain is altered. Let’s look at the study.
Marijuana was given to ages 18-25. They looked at 40 people in this age group. Twenty in the group took pot and twenty did not. The scientists then imaged the brains. They found that the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala showed changes in density, volume, and shape in those who smoked the weed. This part of the brain participates in the regulation of motivation and emotion. This part of the brain also helps people judge whether things are rewarding or aversive. It also helps to determine whether a person experiences pain or pleasure from the many inputs coming into the brain. In addition, this part of the brain allows people to expand horizons, helping them to enjoy books, new foods, and relationships. The subjects studied were not having any problems with work, school, relationships, or the law before the study. They also noted that the more joints smoked, the more changes in the brain. We also know the effects are more profound on the young developing brain.
The take home point is marijuana damages the brain. For those taking marijuana for medical reasons, risks versus benefits must be carefully weighed. But, let’s also realize many other inputs change the brain as well. What about the brain’s response to seeing murder on the television, having fears and anxieties, experiencing guilt, or past trauma? What about other substances and even certain foods which can damage the brain? Let us all be careful of the inputs our brain receives because everything changes the brain. In the future, now that we have sophisticated ways to analyze the brain, hopefully studies will be performed which will help us understand to some small degree, the complexities of the brain and how the brain changes the chemistry of the entire body, regulating genes, turning on stress responses, and yes understanding how God has empowered the brain to also heal the body.