Does Cannabis Really Reverse Brain Aging?
The legitimacy of medical marijuana remains a hot debate topic despite of the fact it’s already being recommended as a treatment for a number of conditions /illnesses. People are suing cannabis to threat and/or mange Crohn’s disease, epileptic seizures, inflammation, pain, nausea & various types of cancer. Advancements in marijuana science & tech are helping make great strides for pot as medicine due to more states beginning legalize.
Medical cannabis can be smoked, vaporized, eaten as edibles, or ingested as a liquid extract. It will probably be prescribed physicians in pill form some day not too far down the road.
There’s also ongoing research examining the use of marijuana to treat mental disorders. One of the latest studies is was done by researchers at the University of Bonn and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This study may be an accelrant in the medical marijuana debate as the researchers were able to show how cannabis might be aide in reducing or reversing brain aging.
Tetrahydrocannabinol aka THC, is the molecule that gives marijuana its psychoactive effect. THC is what makes people “high”, effectivley altering the body’s internal cannabinoid signaling system. As your body ages, its internal cannabinoid system will ultimatley slow down, resulting in lower production of its signalling molecules and less of the receptors to which they bind.
When this takes place, our immune systems can weaken leaving us more vulnerable to diseases/conditions that affect several everday operating functions and skills. Including but not limited to sleep, mood, temperature regulation, motor control, appetite, reproduction & even memory. This decline in the cannabinoid system is very likely linked with the deterioration in mental apptitiude that comes with aging.
This research focused on the effects of THC on cognitive ability of mice while being administering low doses of THC over four weeks. The research team experimented on mice in three age groups: two-month olds (young mice); 12-month olds (middle-aged mice); and 18-month olds (elderly mice).
All mice were subject to learning & memory tests including object recognition tests and a water maze. Results showed that in all tests, mice that received THC did not display a cognitive decline associated with aging. In fact, it was quite the opposite. They acted as if they were two months old, in other words, like they were young mice.
Similar brain activity results were found across all age groups. Moreover, in mice treated with THC, the activity of genes normally associated with aging did not change as anticipated. They continued to be as active as the brains’ of two-month old mice. Furthermore, the number of connections between the brain’s nerve cells increased, which is an important prerequisite for the ability to learn as well as form memories.
Prof. Andreas Zimmer, the leader of the research team said: “The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals… It looked as though the THC treatment turned back the molecular clock.”
It’s important to note, THC seemed to affect some of the young mice negatively. Instead of showing improvement in tasks, their ability seemed to decline slightly. Zimmer one on to say, this is an indication that under & over-stimulation are both harmful. In young mice and people too, the endogenous cannabinoid system is very active, which means giving them more THC might cause overstimulation, and therefore a decline instead of improved cognitive function. However, in older mice, THC produced just the right amount of stimulation, effectively improving in cognitive ability.
This research suggest that cannabis could possibly aide in reversing the effects of brain aging.. at least with older mice. The next step forward is to find a way to test if the same hold true for humans.