Recreational drugs such as alcohol, nicotine and cocaine have been show to suppress new growth of nerve cells in the brain, specifically in the hippocampus, which is associated with learning, memory, anxiety and depression.
Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan decided to see what were the effects of marijuana by injecting a synthetic cannabinoid called HU210 in rats’ brains.
Published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers ingested rats twice a day with the cannabinoid for a consecutive of 10 days. Incredibly, the rate of nerve cell formation – neurogenesis – in the hippocampus increased by approximately 40 per cent.
According to New Scientist, researchers were inspired by a previous study that showed how Prozac increased neurogenesis, and it was thought that this cell growth caused the antidepressant fluoxetine’s anti-anxiety effect.
Researchers are still skeptical with how cannabinoids behave in humans as it could be different in rodents. However researchers are optimistic that with further studies, cannabinoids may one day be used to treat depression in humans.
Journal Source: http://www.jci.org/articles/view/25509