Tuesday, May 9, 2017

New Study Shows Cannabis Reverses Aging in the Brain

In a monumental new study, conducted through a joint effort at the University of Bonn with researchers from The Hebrew University, Cannabis was shown to reverse aging processes in the brains of mice.  Old animals that showed memory loss and other brain related problems due to age were given low doses of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient of Cannabis.  The treated mice were shown to regress to a state that would be seen in two month old mice.

In this study, aging mice aged 12 and 18 months old were given a low daily dose of (THC).  After only four weeks, the treated mice displayed behavioral signs indicating a reversal of aging related cognitive impairments including learning and memory and learning difficulties.  When examining the brain tissue of treated mice on a genetic level, they determined the behavioral changes reflected real neurological changes at a molecular level.  Conversely, the mice who received placebos continued to display age related declines in performance reflecting the normal aging process.

Human trials are not yet in the works, as more animal studies need to be done to determine safety of long term use of the agent and potential undiscovered side effects. Additionally given the low dose used for this study, it appears using Cannabis for recreation will not improve memory.  At the same time earlier studies have demonstrated that cannabis is effective at decreasing brain inflammation while improving cognition and can help to control chronic pain.

While human trials may be a long time in coming, the findings from this study may bring us one step closer to understanding and treating normal and abnormal aging related changes to the brain. Subsequent research could eventually open up a range of new options for treating and possibly reversing brain aging in humans.  Should support be found for the use of the active agent in Cannabis for aging related memory problems, it could provide hope for those suffering from dementia, most cases of which are currently progressive and irreversible.  The study is published in the May issue of Nature Medicine.

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