Pre- and postnatal tobacco and cannabis exposure and child behavior problems: Bidirectional associations, joint effects, and sex differences
Prenatal maternal cannabis and tobacco use is predictive of behavioral problems among toddlers. Resulting differences from control groups include anxiety, depression, and attention problems. Female children of mom’s consuming substances, in particular, seem to be more susceptible to problems relating to internalization, attention, and sleep. Additionally, the behavioral problems induced by prenatal cannabis and tobacco consumption often lead to further maternal substance consumption, which frequently exacerbates existing behavioral problems.
Sleep Disturbances, Psychosocial Difficulties and Health Risk Behavior
A Dutch study investigated sleep disturbances in adolescents. Sleep disruption was linked to cannabis use, psychosocial difficulties, health risk behavior, and increased suicidality. Additionally, gender disparity in results suggests that girls may be more susceptible to sleep disturbances than boys , a result consistent with past recognition of some gender discrepancies in cannabis activity. These results highlight the importance of discouraging haphazard cannabis use, during adolescence, and the need for further gender-focused research surrounding sleep habits and cannabis use.
Dr Caplan, CED Foundation, and the #MDTake:
There are a few important issues that converge in this review. Generally, the question of adolescents’ use, (as an alternative way of describing the question of effects on a developing brain.) Also, this paper raises valuable questions about how cannabis may be interacting with sleep hygiene, for better or for worse. Psychosocial impact and risky behaviors are very complex topics to engage, even with a fairly large population sample of (n=16,781.) There are lots of intercorrelated topics assessed, analyzed, and discussed in the review, and it is all-too-easy to want to find causal patterns that are not apparent, again for better or worse, unless one chooses to construe the results or interpretation with causation in mind. Realistically, it is very likely to find overlap in a population of adolescents who have psychosocial difficulties, engage in risky behaviors, have increased risk of suicidality, and consume cannabis. To point to one of the components, arbitrarily, as the primary cause of the others is to unnecessarily and unjustly oversimplify a complex set of circumstances. The essential tenet, different genders seem to react differently with cannabis, is an excellent take-away, and also that we have much more still to learn.
Comparing dopaminergic dynamics in the dorsolateral striatum between adolescent and adult rats- Effect of an acute dose of WIN55212-2
A recent study has exposed an age-dependent mechanism within the dopaminergic system that relies on cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1). Adult and adolescent dopamine levels were examined in the presence of a CB1 agonist and increased levels of extracellular dopamine were found in adolescents. This study reveals the different effects cannabis-based medicine has depended on the age of the patient and warrants future research to ensure cannabis has the desired therapeutic effect on patients.
Dr Caplan Discussion Points:
This adds a helpful layer of insight to the way an animal model of dopamine changes over time, as well as its interaction with exogenous cannabinoids. This sheds light on the natural evolution of the dopamine control system (irrespective of how it interacts with endocannabinoids), and it also points to how cannabinoids may be involved.
This helps to educate the discussion about how psychosis and cannabis use may interact. There is a long-held understanding that dopamine abnormalities in the specific parts of the brain (mesolimbic and prefrontal brain regions) exist in schizophrenia. More recently, research has also strongly suggested that other neurotransmitters, including glutamate, GABA, acetylcholine, and serotonin are also involved in schizophrenia (and, coincidentally, there is also interaction with these other neurotransmitters from various components of cannabis). Nonetheless, this study simply suggests that, by nature, basal dopamine levels increase during adolescence. Also, the study points out that some cannabinoids boost basal levels too. It seems logical to suggest that excessive dopamine may create a problematic force of additional tipping toward illness, within individuals for whom a congenital predisposition toward illness exists.
Impacts of cannabinoid epigenetics on human development- reflections on Murphy et. al. ‘cannabinoid exposure and altered DNA methylation in rat and human sperm’ epigenetics
An op-ed has praised the work published last year which exposed how pre-conception exposure to cannabis in males is related to alterations in epigenetic regulation of the central nervous and immune systems. Murphy et. al.’s paper ‘Cannabinoid exposure and altered DNA methylation in rat and human sperm,’ revealed that the sperm cells of men who have consumed cannabis are a key vector that may affect neuraxis, heart blood vessels, immune stimulation, secondary genomic instability, and carcinogenesis in the fetus offspring. The author of the response piece extrapolates the data collected by Murphy et. al. to conclude the genome-epigenome is extremely sensitive to environmental toxicants and that further research should examine the epigenomic toxicology of multiple cannabinoids.
The effect of prenatal exposure to cannabis on birth rates, birth outcomes, and the health of the mother is still uncertain. Studies focussing on cannabis use during pregnancy are limited, and what little has been reported, is inconsistent. The featured article now brings to light that bothparents may need to be cautious when attempting to conceive or when having unprotected sex as cannabis may affect both germ cells. Currently, governing bodies of obstetricians advise that pregnant mothers cease any cannabis use so if someone who needs cannabis for a medical purpose that improves their quality of life becomes pregnant they need to seek out alternative methods of treatment. Research is needed so that pregnant women can safely continue their medication or so that alternatives can be found so that women do not need to suffer for the duration of their pregnancy and possible breastfeeding period.
Smoking cannabis brings toxins and unhealthy combustion byproducts into the body. With temps in the ~2000’F range for flame, burning flower incinerates a large portion of the product being consumed. As the distance from the point of flame grows, temperatures are lower, and cannabinoids are vaporizing, in addition to being burned by the flame. Over time, as heating technology has improved, there is no longer a need for blasting temperatures way beyond what the material can safely sustain before turning to tar and ash.
Beyond developed habits of consumption, social familiarity, and simplicity of use, one of the reasons many enjoy combustion is the other effects of heat. As with any human contact with extreme heat, blood rushes to the source of heat, and this may present a platform, through which cannabinoids may enter the bloodstream more quickly. The extravagant heat is also aerosolizing many more cannabis compounds than vaporization temperatures typically support, so the effect of flame is often felt to be more intense.
Vaporizing cannabis, however, is less likely to introduce mutations in the polyphenol compounds found in abundance within cannabis, and some of the mutations create terrible molecules known to be caustic and destructive.
If the medical rationale for vaporizing (over combustion) is not convincing, please consider the financial argument: Though purchasing a vaporizer may be costly, it’s a smart investment that could save money in the long run. Learn more by watching this video:
Benjamin Caplan, MDCannabis: Vaporizing vs Smoking
Scientists found that blocking CB1 receptors and CB2-receptors in young zebrafish resulted in morphological deficits, reductions in heart rate, and non-inflated swim bladders. These findings indicate that the endocannabinoid system is pivotal to the development of the locomotor system in zebrafish, and that disturbances to the endocannabinoid system in early life may have detrimental effects.
The translation of these effects to humans is obviously not direct, but it is important for science to learn about safety and expected effects, to examine how chemistry interacts in petri dishes, how basic organic/animal functions are impacted in a living thing, and when the time is appropriate, to then assess any effects in humans