THC May Help Protect Your Brain Against the Ravages of Meth

Turns out that smoking a bowl before going to town on some meth could keep your brains from scrambling themselves. Newly published research out of the University of Cagliari suggests that THC, the same cannabinoid compound that gets your stoned, could protect your brain from the inflammatory effects of methamphetamine use.

Methamphetamine not only decimates your body, it also physically damages the brain by stimulating neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP) production. Normally, these two signaling protein are vital to maintaining cardiac and respiratory function, but when overexpressed, they can cause your grey matter to become inflamed. Meth also boosts the production of peroxynitrites, reactive molecules that damage DNA, and stimulates microgli, which eat dead cells, or live ones if you're on meth. That's right folks, heavy meth use coaxes your brain into eating itself.

However, during a series of pre-clinical trials with mice, the team from the University of Cagliari found evidence suggesting that Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC, actually insulates the brain from these detrimental effects and significantly reduces inflammation.

"In the present study, we showed that THC, the principal constituent of cannabis, attenuates the neurotoxic effect of meth by reducing two markers of neuronal damage," the study authors wrote. "A neuroprotective effect of cannabinoid was likely mediated, at least in part, by their anti-inflammatory properties."

While the Cagliari team is touting this as the first scientific proof that THC could cancel out the effects of the occasional meth binge—and a vast majority of meth users do also smoke weed—remember that this is still a small-scale, animal-based, pre-clinical trial. And also, brain damage or not, meth is still a hell of a drug. There is a whole lot more research to be done so it's best if you hold off smoking meth until then. Or, you know, forever. [PlosOne via High Times]