Baltimore, MD: The administration of synthetic cannabinoids promotes the proliferation of newborn neurons (nerve cells) in the rat brain which likely accounts for the drug's anti-anxiety and mood elevating effects, according to preclinical trial data published today in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Investigators found that the administration of synthetic cannabinoids increased neurogenesis in the rat hippocampus and significantly reduced measures of anxiety and depression-like behavior. Neurogenesis (the birth of neuronal cells) is thought to enable organisms to adapt to their environment and influence their learning and memory throughout life.
"Cannabinoids appear to be the only illicit drug whose capacity to produce increased hippocampal newborn neurons is positively correlated with its anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects," authors concluded.
Alcohol consumption has also been associated with a decrease in neurogenesis in adults.
"These findings add to the growing body of scientific evidence indicating that cannabis is non-toxic and may hold significant neurological benefits, including the treatment of certain neurologic diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease," NORML Senior Policy Analyst Paul Armentano said.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, "Cannabinoids promote embryonic and adult hippocampus neurogenesis and produce anxiolytic- and depressant-like effects" is available in the November issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.