Methamphetamine Can Be Neuroprotective After a Brain Injury

"The difference between poison and a cure is the dose," so explains Dr. David Poulsen about methamphetamine, which when given in low doses, can protect the brain after a TBI.

See other videos with Dr. David Poulsen.

A few years ago we started looking at the neurotoxic effects of methamphetamine in relation to brain injuries, because if you look in the literature that's pretty much all there is is the neurotoxic effects. And as it turns out very high and repetitive doses like you would see in an abusive situation are indeed neurotoxic. But if you apply very low doses that are consistent with what the FDA has approved for treating ADHD in children, those doses actually are very neuroprotective. It goes back to the old adage that the difference between a poison and a cure is the dose. And this is exactly what we're looking at here. So, we discovered--quite accidentally--that methamphetamine is highly neuroprotective when administered after a stroke or a traumatic brain injury. Well, what it does is there are various events that happen after a traumatic brain injury that are pathological, that cause damage to cells, and in the past a lot of drugs have been tested that only eliminate maybe one of those events. What we have found is that methamphetamine--this low dose-- will prevent multiple pathologies, multiple events that promote survival of the cells. It's kind of in a way almost like hitting a breaker switch, letting the brain kind of come back.
Posted on BrainLine February 8, 2013. Reviewed July 25, 2018.

Produced by Victoria McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.