New Study: Cannabis may treat alcohol brain damage

By Sanj Chowdhary

Legalising Cannabis Could Be The Key To Treating Alcohol Induced Brain Damage And Britain’s Problems With Binge Drinking

Last year, whilst giving evidence to MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee, Professor Nutt, who was sacked by the Labour government in 2009 for publicly opposing ministers’ decision to upgrade Cannabis from a class C to class B drug – reiterated his claim that using cannabis was considerably less harmful than drinking alcohol.

Prof David Nutt says smoking cannabis is considerably less harmful than drinking alcohol.

Prof David Nutt

“A regulated market for those drugs is the best way forward,” he claimed. “Cannabis is not safe, but in population terms I believe that regulation would have a net benefit on public health.”

He went further by adding “I think you might find you could reduce alcohol consumption by a quarter if you went with a Dutch model,”

Well it seems that reducing alcohol consumption isn’t the only net health benefit a regulated system for cannabis could bring!! It appears that cannabis may also hold the key to reversing the brain damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption and long-term alcoholism!

Researchers from the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Kentucky and the University of Maryland have recently concluded a study into the potential use of the cannabis compound Cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of alcohol-induced brain damage.

According to the researchers, “the study aimed to advance the preclinical development of transdermal delivery of cannabidiol (CBD) for the treatment of alcohol-induced neurodegeneration.”

The scientists, who used rats suffering from neuro-degeneration resulting from long-term, heavy alcohol consumption, administered a CBD gel via two different delivery methods.

In one group of the rat models a 5% CBD gel was applied transdermally which resulted in a, statistically significant, 48.8% reduction in the neurodegeneration in the entorhinal cortex.

In another group of rats a CBD gel with a 2.5% concentration was injected into the intraperitoneal space (abdominal cavity) and again a statistically significant reduction in neurodegeneration was observed at a slightly higher rate of  50.6%.

From the findings of the first set of experiments the scientists were able to develop a 2.5% concentration ‘next generation gel’ whose formulation was optimised to deliver CBD plasma concentrations of 100.0ng/ml, this resulted in a marked increase in the efficacy of the transdermal gel which delivered a 56.1% reduction in the amount of degenerated brain cells within the entorhinal cortex.

The research, which was published in the September 2013 edition of the Pharmacology, biochemistry and behaviour journal, concluded that; there were “similar magnitudes of neuroprotection following both routes of administration” and that “These results demonstrated the feasibility of using CBD transdermal delivery systems for the treatment of alcohol-induced neurodegeneration.”

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  1. I am confused is it saying it will reverse alcahol brain degeneration or it will reduse it. I suppose I am asking if it can be used to repair the damage or can it just reduce potential damage

    • Hi JP,

      Sorry for the confusion, the study concluded that CDB actually does both. For some time CBD has been known for its neuroprotective properties, meaning that it can indeed reduce potential damage. However, this study went further and actually found that it repaired brain damage that had occurred as a result of alcohol consumption and alcoholism.

      These properties of cannabis, more specifically CBD, have been known for years. In fact the US government took out a US Patent 6630507 titled “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” in October 2003.

      Hope this clears things up for you and anyone else who might find the article a little confusing

  2. This seems to have the ring of truth from 25 years of experience with cannabis and alcohol users. Those who consume moderate amounts of alcohol alone tend to have the weakest minds;
    those who consume some alcohol and moderate amounts of cannabis seem to be about the same mental abilities as those who consume neither substance;
    Those who consume just moderate amounts of cannabis (but no alcohol) tend to be more creative and productive and capable than those who consume alcohol in anyway.
    I have especially noticed this when people I know have changed their consumption habits – it does seem to follow this pattern.

  3. I have worked extensively with people who have developed (or developing) wet brain from chronic Alcoholic use, and its particularly nasty thing to happen, never mind the physical abnormalities and illnesses Alcohol causes with that much abuse.

    The only thing doctors can throw at these people is Vitamin D, which is all well and good in helping combat the development, but once it develops the general opinion is “thats it” and nothing more can be done.

    That will continue in Britain until we have sensible laws regarding Cannabis! I’ve always thought Alcohol abusers would be better off taking Cannabis, if even to help manage Alcohol consumption – the most dangerous thing about it is getting caught.

  4. Agree with Nutt, PREVENTION is the key, here are some thoughts on how to bring about that quarter-reduction in consumption:

    1. Watch someone drinking and see if they GULP fluid hurriedly, right down the throat, as if not interested to take some time, see how it tastes. Obviously they are thinking of it as a craved medicine, not an enjoyed food! Maybe they hope the medicine once inside them will make them feel better– by dumbing them down so they forget their anxiety?

    Incompletely salivated food or drink numbs good bacteria in your gut so that vicious rogue microbes take over and produce toxins that go right in your bloodstream producing depression, which feels good at first when relieving anxiety but is paralyzing later.

    2. God intended your SALIVA to contact every molecule of liquid or of solid food you have chewed down to liquid, before swallowing. CANNABIS to the rescue! If you are trying to kick an alcohol craving habit, think: “Cannabis is supposed to make me more sensitive to taste, more interested in food value. If I have some cannabis an hour or so BEFORE drinking, maybe it will help me remember to hold this little sip of beer, wine etc. in the mouth longer, get the complete taste, swish it around a bit, get the stimulating impact on gums, etc., and get it mixed with my goodly saliva seeping it slowly down instead of the abandonment of gulping.”

    3. More enjoyment, entertainment, education from LESS consumption. Or think of alcoholic beverage not as a “drink” but as a “dressing” or “sauce” to add a sip of when you are chewing some salad (or cannabis baked goods).

    I hope someday beer and wine will be carried around in tiny 50-ml. bottles, or in a little aluminium box the size of a present-day $igarette pack, to carry in the shirt pocket, with a little spout you can open and sip from occasionally, instead of present-day hurried “drinking” which could disappear from society. Single hits of cannabis will teach us food moderation and selectivity.

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