Researchers at the University of Calgary said they've found evidence that the brain contains so-called CB2 cannabinoid receptors, previously seen in immune tissue but thought not to exist in brain tissue. The discovery, they added, could lead to new drugs to treat nausea associated with cancer or AIDS.
Most so-called drugs of abuse -- such as alcohol or cocaine -- inhibit the growth of new neurons, according to Xia Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Saskatchewan.
"Only marijuana promotes neurogenesis," Dr. Zhang said.
The finding -- reported in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation -- does not involve smoked or ingested marijuana, but rather a synthetic compound dubbed HU-210, which Dr. Zhang said is 100 times as powerful as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for the highs experienced by recreational users.
Dr. Zhang and colleagues showed that administration of HU-210 in high but not low doses, not acutely but over a period of several weeks, promotes new neurons in the hippocampus of rats by causing neuronal progenitor cells to proliferate.
The new neurons were associated with a reduction in behaviour typical of anxiety and depression, such as unwillingness to eat in a novel situation.
I know that whenever I find myself in a Henry James story my appetite floats right down the canal. But I've never tried reading him in the care of an agent of neurogenesis. Personally, though, I'd rather head over to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. I get all the Henry James I can eat during the NCAA basketball tourney.