- Kris Lotlikar
The National Institute on Mental Health has begun testing certain chemicals in marijuana for whether they might protect brain cells during a stroke. THC and cannabidiol have both exhibited promising results, but the study is being concentrated on cannabidiol because of its lack of psychoactive properties. Cannabidiol (CBD) proved to be a potent antioxidant in a test tube for protecting brain tissue exposed to toxic neurochemicals produced during a stroke. Aiden Hampson, the team leader feels that CDB is a better candidate than the other chemicals found in marijuana. Dr. Hampson's research team has now started giving intravenous CDB to rat and reveal the preliminary results are promising. He stated to the UK Guardian, "We have something that passes the brain barrier easily, has low toxicity, and appears to be working in the animal trials. So I think we have a good chance."
This discovery has special importance in the political arena, with medical marijuana initiatives possibly appearing on five states ballots this fall. "This study adds to the list of studies showing that there are more useful chemicals in the marijuana plant than just THC," Chuck Thomas, director of communication for the Marijuana Policy Project told The Week Online. "This should be no surprise, considering that most patients prefer smoking marijuana to the THC pill (Marinol)."
Dr. Hampson claims that cannabidiol has so far been considered an inactive ingredient. According to Paul Armentano, director of communication for NORML, however, cannabidiol has been studied for various uses in the past. "This may look like a new discovery, but Israeli pharmacists have been studying it for about 4-5 years," commented Mr. Armentano to The Week Online. Research on CDB has been conducted to treat epilepsy and Huntington's disease. In Israel, a biotechnology company called Pharmos has developed a derivative of CDB called Dexanabinol, and has recently begun phase III testing, using human subjects. Pharmos claims Dexanabinol can control neuronal cell death, the damage caused by head trauma and strokes.