Your Teen’s Brain and Marijuana

Currently, more than half of the states in America legally allow the use of Marijuana in some form. The medical community has embraced the many benefits it can assist with alleviating pain and/or reducing disease in the body. Additionally, research has shown that in adults, marijuana can be helpful to the brain. However, when it comes to your teen’s brain and marijuana, the results may show differently.

The Teen Formula Book
The Teen Formula Book

Medical or Merry Marijuana?

Whatever your stance on marijuana use, the fact is that it’s available legally and illegally. According to, “Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form.” And, as per an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Marijuana is the most commonly used “illicit” drug in the United States.”

So, whether it’s for medicinal or recreational purposes, there’s clearly a demand.

Regardless, it’s been widely recognized that marijuana may be an effective treatment for symptoms of various medical conditions. Some of them are:

  • Glaucoma
  • Nausea from chemotherapy drugs
  • Loss of appetite (improve appetite in patients with AIDS or anorexia nervosa)
  • Inflammation (reduce inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Parkinson’s, and many other diseases)
  • Chronic pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Your Adult Brain and Cannabinoids

Aside benefitting symptoms of clinical conditions, marijuana has also been proven to have neuroprotective agencies. Cannabinoids actually create new brain cell production and growth.

As we age, neurogenesis (the process of growing new brain cells) slows down. Some results of poor adult neurogenesis are: anxiety, stress, and depression. Marijuana aids in the growth of new cells in the hippocampus. This may be one reason why it has shown to be successful in treating particular mood disorders. 

The THC in marijuana has revealed to be a powerful antioxidant for the brain. Because of its neuroprotective properties, it can help clean away brain plaque. The build up of beta-amyloid plaque is one cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Along with Alzheimer’s, other neurodegenerative diseases like MS, Lou Gehrig’s, and Parkinson’s can also benefit from cannabis treatment.

Research has shown that marijuana also aids in attacking cancer cells. Conversely, it does not harm the healthy cells. Studies have provided evidence that cannabis may reduce tumors in the brain. Along with utilizing other therapies, marijuana treatment may halt or reverse the progression of some cancers.

Say NO to Brain Trauma and Sports

Most of the research and statistics compiled in regards to the benefits of your brain and marijuana is comprised mainly of adults. Your teen’s brain and marijuana may not react the same as we’ve discussed thus far. On the other hand, it may, but there isn’t nearly enough research or credibility to prove that it does. So, keep in mind, in this section we are sourcing cases solely involving adults.

Henceforth, laboratory studies have shown that cannabis may protect the brain from trauma. Research shows that damage to the brain from a force, a blow, carbon monoxide poisoning, and even stroke may be reduced due to marijuana use. Most importantly, cannabis helps reduce inflammation.

A concussion is trauma to the brain. As we are aware, many athletes are in danger of, or prone to, getting concussions. The antioxidants in cannabis plants can provide protection from neural inflammation. (And a concussion encompasses inflammation of the brain.) There are researchers who believe that certain properties of marijuana may assist in the brain recovering and repairing itself. The CBD in the marijuana may even be helpful—proactively!

CHECK THIS OUT: Evidently, the U.S. government currently has a patent on a non-psychoactive CBD. The intent would be to utilize it as a neuroprotective element—one that would limit brain damage after an accident involving head trauma. That’s a pretty cool bet on the healing properties of marijuana.

A Teen’s Brain and Marijuana is a Complicated Issue

For as much research and speculation, it is still not absolute that marijuana kills brain cells. In fact, as we learned for adults, cannabis helps create new ones. But, with teens the picture is different. The main reason is because the adolescent and teen brain is not fully developed. Most noteworthy, the rational part of the brain isn’t often developed until the age of 25.

The actual use of marijuana may or may not have any detrimental disturbances to the brain directly. Although, more research points to the concern that cannabis may affect the teen brain negatively. Brain-imaging studies sway experts towards the principle that “the teen’s brain and marijuana are not a positive combination.” 

Naturally, our nerve cells manufacture cannabinoids, from birth. These cannabinoids play a huge part in how the brain regulates our everyday habits such as: sleeping, eating, remembering, moving around, and our emotions.

When “outside” cannabis is introduced into the still-developing brain, it can create significant changes in those everyday habits. This is worrisome for medical experts because the brain can become wired in an unbalanced fashion in regards to those processes. This doesn’t look like a plus for marijuana teen use.

More Complications for Teens, Including Safety and Learning

It’s the young brain’s inability to make rational decisions that causes the most immediate danger. The prominent negative effects of short-term marijuana use by teens are:

  • impaired coordination (driving accidents, risk of increased injuries)
  • impaired short-term memory (prohibits learning and retaining new information)
  • practice of poor judgment (risk-taking behavior: unprotected sex, reckless driving, illegal activity, pushing the limits)

Part of the brain’s development during the teen years is the strengthening of executive function. One such function would be emotional self-control. Marijuana use may impede this strengthening process. Thus, the youngster may not develop this self-control mechanism as nature intended.

Aside from safety concerns, marijuana-use may plague learning. When under the influence of marijuana, there may be a heightened sense of creativity and flow. That’s terrific. However, it’s been proven that additionally, attention, learning, and memory become impaired. That’s not so fantastic.

It’s tough to build brainpower when the mind is still developing and besieged by a mind-altering substance.

A Teen’s Future…

Your teen’s brain and marijuana may not impact his/her future in a negative way. There are numerous studies that show very-little to no-changes in the brain later in life. And, there are many adults who can attest to having smoked pot as a teen and seem none-the-worse today for having partaken.

However, some of the studies that show negative long-term effects of young-age, marijuana-use are based on heavy, habitual use, starting as adolescents into adulthood. Those are real and can be serious. Some of those effects include:

  • addiction to marijuana or other substances
  • diminished lifetime achievements
  • motor vehicle accidents
  • anxiety and/or depression
  • chronic bronchitis

The brain is a phenomenally interesting and complex organ. It guides our body from head to toe. Its processes are affected by thousands of neurons, nerves, thoughts, cells, chemicals, and countless other elements. The bottom line is, “How much do you respect your brain?”

For adults with any semblance of gratitude for life, we bow up to the brain. And according to most sources, marijuana is not directly hurting this precious organ. So, using cannabis or not, as an adult, is a personal choice. But, when it comes to teens, their brains don’t have the ability yet to help them make the most appropriate choices. It has to be up to the adults to teach the young the facts. No one said it would be easy…

Check into Get Thrive when you’re looking for guidance or tips on best health for your family. Also, if this article resonates with you, you may want to  have a look at Dr. Campbell’s best selling book, The Teen Formula: A Parent’s Guide To Helping Your Child Avoid Substance Abuse HERE available in paperback or on Kindle.

Thank you for joining us today!



Why Exercising to Lose Weight is a Myth

There’s no denying the science that the relationship between caloric-input and caloric-output affect weight, whether it’s maintaining, gaining, or losing. When it comes to biological truisms, there’s no way to debate the facts. How and what we input and output makes all the difference.

The Science

In their article, Why You Shouldn’t Exercise to Lose Weight, Julia Belluz and Javier Zarracina point to a large number of studies in order to present a justification for the title of their piece. One such study goes back to 1958 where researcher Max Wishnofsky outlined a rule to the “calories-in, calories-out” theory.

Many medically based organizations, even the Mayo Clinic, still espouse that a pound of fat equals approximately 3,500 calories. If a person cuts out about 500 calories a day, he/she will lose about a pound a week. The authors are not arguing if this is true, they are saying that in order to lose weight, you don’t necessarily have to exercise.

The worry in presenting such a case is that you may lead people down an unhealthy path. Exercise increases metabolism, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Negating the benefit of exercise isn’t compensatory to making a case that you can lose weight just by eating less.

Just Exercise

Here’s where Belluz and Zarracina do present a plausible debate: It’s difficult to lose weight simply by exercising more. An obesity researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that there are three main components to how we burn calories (energy expenditure). The first (and the one that uses the most) is our basal metabolic rate.

Those are the calories we use when our body is at rest. The second component is the energy we use to digest food, and the third is the energy we use when we exercise or run around all day. If 70-90% of our total energy expenditure is used in those first two components, that only leaves about 10% for physical activity. That’s not a lot. Exercise alone isn’t going to make a huge difference in our ability to burn more calories.

Another strong point they made is based on a 2009 study, which showed that people actually increased their food intake after exercise. They were either hungrier, or they believed they burned off more calories than they actually did.

More Science

A further study pointed out that after a workout, some people are liable to rest after, using fewer calories on random physical everyday activity than they normally would. They may even change how they do things, like get in the car instead of walk, or take the elevator instead of the stairs. These “compensatory behaviors” may make us unconsciously overall less active (as a result of exercise.)

The best research, however, shows that successful weight-loss comes from cutting calories, decreasing high-fat foods, being mindful of portions, and exercising regularly. To read more about weight-loss, metabolism, and exercise, check out previous articles on


3 Simple Steps towards Healthier Foods

1. Be Alert – Healthier

A new study shows that the brighter the room, the more alert you are. Researchers discovered that when you’re more alert, you chose healthier foods.

2. Dining Room Lighting

The authors of this study observed the eating habits of 160 restaurant patrons to start. Those who picked healthier foods off the menu were those in well-lit rooms. In fact, those diners were almost 25% more likely to choose, let’s say, grilled fish over fried chicken with gravy.

It was discovered that healthier options were chosen because the light was brighter. In the dimly-lit room, sales records demonstrated that those patrons ordered almost 40% more calories. The researchers ran four more studies, which included 700 males and females between the ages of 18 and 22. Those results were close-to-identical as those in the original study.

3. Eating Environment

The above study was entitled, “Shining Light on Atmospherics: How Ambient Light Influences Food Choices.” It was published in the Journal of Marketing Research in May 2016 and included four authors. One of the authors, Dr. Brian Wansink, is a behavioral scientist and has made it his mission to change eating behavior. His philosophy is “eat less and eat better.”

Wansink is an author in his own right, as well as the Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. Besides recommending brighter lighting, he suggests reducing kitchen clutter. In order to choose healthier foods, he also suggests keeping a fruit bowl on the counter. Jokingly, (or maybe seriously), he advocates electrifying the cookie jar.

Eating in dim lighting isn’t horrible. You actually enjoy the food more because you eat slower. (Think about what you order and how you eat at the movies.) Perhaps ordering in bright light and then eating in the dark might be an interesting experiment. Bottom line, anything that can help us to make healthier food selections is worthwhile.

Check out for great food suggestions and recipes.


Possible New Depression Treatment Using Psychedelics

Those suffering from severe depression do not always respond to traditional treatment. Researchers are always seeking alternate ways to help alleviate symptoms of depression. A new study using psilocybin (the active ingredient in hallucinatory mushrooms) shows promise as a possible treatment for patients with depression.

Types of Extreme Treatment

Antidepressant medication, cognitive behavior therapy, and diet alteration are just a few methods prescribed to help treat depression. When symptoms are extreme or there just isn’t enough time to wait for meds to kick-in, some patients opt for Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). This procedure is performed with muscle relaxers and anesthesia. Electrodes are placed on the patient’s scalp, which then deliver a controlled electric current to the brain. A brief seizure ensues, jolting the brain, but not the rest of the body.

Another treatment is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS.) A device is held above the patient’s head to create a magnetic field in the brain. A light electrical signal is applied to the prefrontal cortex. This technique is centered on kick-starting the region of the brain that is connected to mood.

It’s High Time!

The new study out of Imperial College London used “magic mushrooms” based on a similar philosophy of treatment. The concept is to “reset” the brain-circuit activity that plays a role in depression.

Out of 20 patients who participated in the study, 19 showed relief from depression symptoms—up to five weeks after treatment. None of the participants had responded to other traditional treatments previously. Their brains scans before and after treatment showed clear changes in brain activity.

The researchers noted that it’s a temporary fix, but the psilocybin gave the patients the kick-start their brains needed to escape from the depressive state. Patients would still need to continue with other therapies, but the instant brain reset is what excited the researchers the most about the experimental treatment. They also warned that no one should attempt to self-medicate using psilocybin.

In the Meanwhile…

There needs to be more clinical trials using psychoactive drugs in order to establish more successful data. Also, the trial groups need to be much larger. In early 2018, a trial will begin that will examine the use of psilocybin versus a leading antidepressant. That should be interesting.


In the meanwhile, if you are concerned you may be suffering from depression, do not hesitate to seek help. You can call your doctor, talk to a friend, a loved one, and/or check online for helpful resources. The CDC has an informative page to help answer questions:

And, you can always check current and archive article on GetThrive for more information and helpful tools and tips.






Don’t Pass On Your Math Anxiety!

Chances are, if you need a chill-pill every time you think of math problems, your children will too.

It’s No One’s Fault

Do you suffer from post-traumatic-math-stress? Then you are not unlike many parents these days. The problem is that our child can smell it coming—our fear. Some experts say it might be better if we don’t try to help kids with their math homework; they don’t need our negative input or confusion.

A Minus

One study showed that parents’ aversion to the school math, unfortunately, reflected in the children’s grades. The student’s math scores were a third less when nervous moms or dads worked on homework together. The good news was that the tension did not effect the kids’ reading tests or other subjects.

If you’re a math whiz, hop aboard the tutor train. But if you are scared of word problems and algebraic expressions, stay away from your kids’ homework.



Are You As Emotionally Intelligent as a Kindergartner?

A 20-year-long study that followed 800 people from Kindergarten into their 20s reveals that those displaying high emotional-intelligence at a young age fare better in later life.

EQ vs. IQ

Emotional Quotient is something that can be taught, learned, and developed; it’s not just genetic like it’s academic counterpart, IQ. Social and emotional skills are what allows us to understand ourselves and how to “play nicely” with others. Sharing, listening, expressing feelings-these all fall into the category of emotional awareness.

Study Results

Those kindergartners who shared and were helpful, for example, went on to graduate college and nab a full-time job by the age of 25. Other youngsters who had challenges resolving conflict and cooperating, grew up to be dropouts, drug/alcohol users, or had run-ins with the law. The research findings inform society that social skills are definitely important to teach in school and at home.



Can Aspirin Thwart Colon Cancer?

A newly published study confirms that a low-dose of aspirin daily over a five-year period significantly reduces the chances of getting colorectal cancer.

“Take Two Aspirin And…”

The Danish study followed 113 participants. Taken consistently for at least five years, one or two baby-aspirin lowers the risk for colon cancer. There have been studies about long-term use of ibuprofen as well, but the dosage amount and the time necessary for effectiveness has not been established.

Doctors Orders

The aspirin in the study was given by prescription from doctors. No over-the-counter drugs were used. This is an element that needs consideration before the public decides to self-medicate.

Although this is great news for those who may be prone to getting that form of cancer, there are risks associated with prolonged use of aspirin. Side effects can include bleeding in the stomach. Only a physician can inform and help you make a decision if one risk outweighs another.



Language Delay in Toddlers Linked to Electronics

Babies as young as six-months of age (or even younger) are exposed to and are using handheld electronic devices. It’s almost commonplace. One newly discovered detriment is that letting a baby or toddler use a device may lead to delayed speech.

Expressive Language Delay

There are a myriad of reasons why a child may experience expressive language delay. This form of communication is different than social interaction. He/she has normal relationships. Body language and gestures can all be on par with age-appropriate development. The child understands and thinks clearly.

Expressive language delay is when the child struggles with communicating effectively. He/she has difficulty finding words to communicate specific thoughts or needs. The child’s ability to convey information or feelings can be compromised. It can be frustrating for the child as well as the adult.

A new study shows that there is a link between babies and toddlers using electronic devices and delays in expressive talking.


The Study

This study out of Canada is the first of its kind. There hasn’t been researched data to-date, showing a link between a toddler’s use of a Smartphone and speech development. Dr. Catherine Birken, the staff pediatrician at a hospital in Toronto, led the study.

The research included data from over 850 babies from the ages of 6-months to 2-years old. Twenty percent of the children used either: Smartphones, electronic games, or tablets at their 18-month old check-up. The longer time the child spent on the device, the greater risk for expressive speech delay was shown.

In fact, the researchers claimed that with each 30-minute increase of electronic viewing time, there was almost a 50% increase of risk of delayed speech.


Pediatricians have been suggesting limiting or avoiding electronic-device use for children and toddlers for a long while. The American Academy of Family Physicians has updated its strong suggestion to avoid all hand-held screens for kids under 18-months old. The only electronic-based time the AAFP condones for toddlers or infants is screen chatting.

Here is the concern: Media use can displace essential developmental activity. Activities such as physical play, hands-on exploration, and one-on-one interaction are integral to proper and desirable growth. All of the above are critical to learning. If screens are interfering with the natural course of development, it follows suit that delays in development (such as speech) may occur.

Of course, there are exceptions where electronic devices can help toddlers—especially those with physical or cognitive disabilities. This particular study did not take into account special needs babies.

The other caveat about this study is that it didn’t prove a “direct” cause and effect. However, it cannot be denied that after analyzing the data, there was proof of delayed expressive language amongst those toddlers who had been using handheld electronic devices. Further studies, if pursued, may better exact the link.

If you are concerned about your toddler (or one you know), in as far as milestone speech development, you can always check with ASHA (American Speech Language Hearing Association) for helpful guidelines.

Aside from “electronics” or hearing challenges, there are other possible reasons why your baby may have a speech delay. Some are: Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Apraxia, Dysarthia, or cognitive limitations, amongst others. Please do not panic. Any scenario has a way to assist the child. Just because speech is currently delayed doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to make things “better” or eventually catch-up.

Thank you for reading to the end. Hopefully, if this article has spoken to you or someone you know, the information can be used to assist. For other helpful articles on best health and lifestyle for your family, check out GetThrive.