While American states are rushing to legalize marijuana use, a recent study has discovered that chronic cannabis consumers have poor blood circulation in the brain areas that are usually damaged by Alzheimer's disease.
These shocking findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease last month. A study was conducted by Californian researchers who found bloodstream abnormalities in long-term marijuana consumers after using photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). The brain images showed reduced blood flow in almost all areas of the chronic users' brains, but the hippocampus, which usually suffers in people with Alzheimer's disease, was affected the most.
This brain area is responsible for the human memory and ability to learn new information, but most chronic weed consumers that participated in the research had very low blood flow in the hippocampus.
The study involved more than 26,000 patients with various treatment-resistant conditions who were examined in one of nine outpatient neuropsychiatric clinics across the country from 1995 till 2015. Nearly 1,000 of these patients were checked for blood flow disorders in the brain. 982 cannabis consumers were put through brain SPECT at rest and during a brain concentration test in comparison with 92 healthy participants.
The scientists compared the obtained images and applied discriminant analysis. The findings showed that almost all pot users had low blood flow in the hippocampus, while healthy controls had completely different SPECT results. The abnormal blood circulation in the hippocampus during the concentration test was the single most predictive area that differentiated weed users from the controls.
The lowering of cerebral blood flow in cannabis patients affects the hippocampus that regulates memory and learning. Thus, weed users may face memory problems like people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers confirmed that cannabis might have significant side effects on brain function, despite the positive profile of marijuana in mass media. Though weed has many benefits for people's health and can treat various conditions, the open use of cannabis caused by the legalization may also damage the brain of many pot consumers. It means that people should not forget about caution even when using such a safe recreational drug as cannabis.