A team of international scientists, including those from King’s College London, has suggested that smoking skunk-like cannabis over a period of time can cause serious psychotic problems as well as damage the communication between the left and right hemispheres of the human brain.

Apart from being an animal that gives off very offensive smell when startled, skunk is also a street name for cannabis. But skunk-like cannabis is more potent and gives off stronger smell than usual cannabis, and it contains higher amounts of the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which causes disturbances in the brain and minds of active users.

Since the THC ingredient works on the cannabinoid receptors of the corpus callosum or white matter of the brain which contains a large variety of nerve networks, skunk-like cannabis damages the brain-nerve structure that regulates communication or transmissions of signals between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, leading to psychosis.

A psychosis is any severe mental disorder in which contact with reality is lost or highly distorted, resulting in hallucinations, delusions, mental illness, and brain damage.

A neurobiologist from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, Dr. Paola Dazzan, noted that the research team discovered that extended use of skunk-like cannabis affects the white matter fibers of the brain and induces damage and disruption in signal transmission. He added that for cannabis smokers, the more weed they smoke the higher its potency gets, and the worse the damage it causes.

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The study team experimented with 56 patients who had reported for psychotic conditions at the hospital, together with 43 others who did not have the condition but volunteered for control experiment. About half of the healthy volunteers smoked cannabis daily – just like 70% of the psychotic patients.

The researchers ultimately found that active and long-term smokers of marijuana suffered more extensive damage to their brain white matter or corpus callosum than those who smoked once in a white, or those who smoked typically weak variants.

Dazzan warned that active smokers of high-potency cannabis are at great risks of psychosis and brain damage and must quit the habit. He added that researchers often assess how often a smoker smoked, and the type of marijuana smoked to determine levels of exposure to brain damage and psychotic risks.

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