Latest Studies Imply That Cannabinoids Are Protective Against Alcohol-Induced Brain Damage

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 6, 2011

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here. To watch NORML’s weekly video summary of the week’s top stories, click here.]

    The administration of the synthetic cannabinoid agonist HU-211 decreases nerve cell death in an in vitro model of ethanol withdrawal, according to data published online in the journal of the Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE).

    An international team of researchers from France and Spain assessed the anti-excitotoxic effects of the synthetic cannabinoid HU-211 in culture. Researchers demonstrated that cannabinoid administration protected neurons from cell death in an experimental model of ethanol withdrawal. By contrast, the administration of a cannabinoid antagonist (rimonabant) during ethanol withdrawal greatly increased cell death.

    [T]hese observations show, for the first time, that the stimulation of the endocannabinoid system could be protective against the hyper-excitability developed during alcohol withdrawal,” investigators concluded. “By contrast, the blockade of the endocannabinoid system seems to be counterproductive during alcohol withdrawal.”

    In humans, the abrupt cessation of alcohol in dependent subjects may be associated with tremor, delirium, brain damage, and death.

    Separate pre-clinical studies have previously documented that administration of the non-psychotropic organic cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) in animals is neuroprotective against cerebral infarction and ethanol-induced neurotoxicity (alcohol poisoning).

    In 2009 and 2010, a pair of studies conducted by investigators at the University of California at San Diego reported that the consumption of cannabis may offset certain alcohol-induced brain abnormalities, including the loss of white matter integrity and impaired memory, in human subjects with a history of both alcohol and marijuana use.

    Full text of the study appears online in PLoS ONE here.

    43 responses to “Latest Studies Imply That Cannabinoids Are Protective Against Alcohol-Induced Brain Damage”

    1. Owen says:

      Excellent news!

    2. Chrisvv says:

      What does one need to control to exploit perceptions?


      What does weed alter/enhance/expand?


      This is why weed remains illegal. It introduces a wildcard in the populace that rivals the internet in undermining control of perceptions

    3. Ll says:

      No Medicinal value?

      I would love to ask Obama, what medical study changed his mind about marijuana. From what I can see, there is overwhelming evidence that this is the most valuable plant for medical purposes, and the only reason it’s a felony to utilize it is because that would put hundreds of thousands of police out of work.

      Well, let’s retrain the cops to do something useful, like growing medicinal marijuana!

    4. B says:

      It appears that, at least according to studies, CB1/CB2 agonists — such as tetrahydrocannabinol — act pharmacologically to increase the initiation of ethanol [alcohol] use. While these claims could be negligible, compared to say tobacco which correlates as a substantial indicator of illegal drug usage (i.e. “gateway”), I would wholeheartedly agree that the neuro-protective benefits of cannabis would greatly outweigh most negatives. One positive, THC is a partial agonist to the CB1 and CB2 receptors so there is a significant difference between the potency and side-effects related to the synthetic cannabinoids used in studies (e.g. it’s like comparing a wrist slap to a spanking).

    5. Road Runner Meep! Meep! says:

      The DEA insists that there is no clinical proof that cannabis has efficacy. Well! what the fuck do you call this.

      Never in my 73 years of life, as an American citizen, have I been so grossly offended by my own government. I regurgitate anything the DEA feeds me. It’s nothing but rotten, vile, poison. Personally I feel compelled to make them an offer they can’t refuse – send them a message they can’t afford to ignore. This all falls on the shoulders of the Director – Michelle Leonhart – and her Abusive Governmental Authority, not to mention her violation of the Constitution of the United States of America. And she calls herself an American and a law abiding citizen – “Get fuckin’ real!”

    6. SkunkyFingers says:

      One can get drunk and then sober up a great deal by smoking a joint. Marijuana blocks the receptors/effects of alcohol. Known this forever.

    7. Josh Wayne says:

      Isn’t this HU-211 stuff in some spice/incense mixes? Anyhow, very interesting. Would be willing to bet THC has similar effects.

    8. HangMan says:

      Why do i feel like i’m repeatedly being kicked in the nuts when i read stuff like this. I’m surrounded people who laugh at the idea of legal marijuana and real medical users are all secretly druggies in it only to get high . I feel like i have to hide in the shadows when all i simply want to do is explore harmlessly the (continuously discovered) benefits of a certain weed that grows out of the soil and not some laboratory.

    9. Owen says:

      #8. Maybe because we don’t kick back?

      We need to deprogram these brainwashed IGNORANT prohibitionists. Next time someone says something rhetorical or stereotypical about pot, don’t just stand there and let them talk. Correct them. Inform them. Educate them. Then if they don’t listen, you have my permission………..

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