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Pot Compound Protects Against Alcohol-Induced Brain Damage

Thursday, 26 May 2005

Bethesda, MD: Administration of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) protects against ethanol-induced neurotoxicity in rats, according to clinical trial data published in the current issue of the journal Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) reported that the co-administration of CBD with ethanol reduced alcohol-induced cell death in the hippocampus and etorhinal cortex of the brain in a dose-dependent manner by up to 60 percent. "This study provides the first demonstration of CBD as an in vivo neuroprotectant ... in preventing binge ethanol-induced brain injury," authors wrote.

Researchers hypothesized that CBD is neuroprotective because it possesses anti-oxidant properties. Anti-oxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, are believed to help the body protect against the deleterious effects of free radicals (unstable atoms that can damage cells and may accelerate the progression of cancer and age-related diseases).

Previous research performed by NIMH researchers demonstrated that both THC and CBD protect rat brain cells against glutamate toxicity (a neurochemical that is released at toxic levels during a stroke or severe head trauma). An Italian research team has also demonstrated CBD to protect against the brain damage caused by ischemia (a reduction of blood flow to the brain that can cause cell death).

Researchers have also noted that CBD and THC can induce tumor regression, including brain cancer, in rodents and human cells.

US federal law prohibits the medical use of cannabinoids except for synthetic THC.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, "Comparison of cannabidiol, antioxidants and diuretics in reversing binge ethanol-induced neurotoxicity," appears in the May issue of the journal Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.