Science & tech

The Medical Minute: Brain Cells, Lung Cancer, and Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Published on July 9, 2014 · Last updated July 28, 2020

A few weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would be re-evaluating the evidence pertaining to marijuana’s safety and medical potential, a step that could lead to its reclassification out of the Schedule I category where it unjustly sits among the most dangerous substances. Cannabis would still have to pass the DEA’s rescheduling assessment and there’s no knowing how long that may take, but our fingers are crossed. Until then, continue to educate yourself and others by staying up-to-date on the cannabis research that’s happening independently.

1. Cannabinoid CBC May Boost Brain Cell Growth

We all know about THC, but did you know there are many other medicinal cannabinoids found in marijuana? Thanks to a recent study published in Neurochemistry International, we now know a little more about cannabichromene (CBC), a compound that has also been found to contain anti-inflammatory, painkilling, and antidepressant properties. The research added to this growing pool of knowledge by discovering that CBC helped promote brain cell growth in mice by elevating ATP levels in differentiating NSPCs (neural stem progenitor cells). CBC typically occurs in only trace amounts in cannabis flowers, but as research exposes its therapeutic importance, we should hope to see a bigger emphasis placed on CBC and other cannabinoids in the future.

2. Cannabis Still Doesn’t Cause Lung Cancer

In other myth-debunking news, cannabis still does not cause lung cancer. You may remember studies from a few years ago stating that even heavy cannabis smokers did not face increased risk of lung cancer. Consistent with those findings is a recent study published in the International Journal of Cancer, which analyzed over 2,000 instances of lung cancer alongside 3,000 control cases. The smoke from cannabis does contain carcinogens, but scientists have pointed out an interesting protective effect in THC that may help explain why cannabis smokers are no more likely than the average person to develop lung cancer.

3. Lou Gehrig’s Disease Could Be Slowed By Cannabis

There is no known cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease, a fatal condition that affects motor neurons in the brain, but a new study has found that CBD and THC in combination slow the disease’s progression. Researchers discovered that together, these compounds have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects that could prove helpful in Lou Gehrig’s as well as other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease affects roughly 30,000 Americans every year; that’s a lot of lives potentially improved by cannabis, and yet only seven states have approved Lou Gehrig’s as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. 

Image credit: Liuboslav Hutsaliuk's La Cheteau, Untitled, Forest Scene, and Paris

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Bailey Rahn
Bailey Rahn
Bailey is a senior content manager at Leafly, specializing in strains and health. She's spent 7+ years researching cannabis products, spreading patients’ stories, and exploring healthy ways of integrating cannabis into daily life.
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