Marijuana may spur new brain cells

Scientists said Thursday that marijuana appears to promote the development of new brain cells in rats and have anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects, a finding that could have an impact on the national debate over medical uses of the drug.
Other illegal and legal drugs, including opiates, alcohol, nicotine and cocaine, have been shown to suppress the formation of new brain cells when used chronically, but marijuana’s effect on that process was uncertain.
Now, a team led by Xia Zhang of the department of psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon may have found evidence the drug spurs new brain cells to form in a region of the brain called the hippocampus, and this in turn reduces anxiety and depression.
Marijuana appears “to be the only illicit drug whose capacity to produce increased … neurons is positively correlated with its (anti-anxiety) and anti-depressant-like effects,” Zhang and colleagues wrote in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The paper was posted online Thursday.
United Press International – Marijuana may spur new brain cells