Although memory performance decreases with age, marijuana can reverse these aging processes in the brain. This is according to a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine.
In the study, old mice were able to regress to the state of two-month-old mice with a prolonged low-dose treatment with marijuana as its active ingredient. This has strong relevancy in the treatment of brain-related disorders such as dementia. The results are now presented in the journal Nature Medicine.
According to scientists at the University of Bonn and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, mice have a relatively short life expectancy in nature and display pronounced cognitive deficits even at twelve months of age. The researchers administered a small quantity of THC, the active ingredient in the hemp plant (cannabis), to mice aged two, twelve and 18 months over a period of four weeks.
Afterwards, they tested learning capacity and memory performance in the animals – including, for instance, orientation skills and the recognition of other mice. Mice who were only given a placebo displayed natural age-dependent learning and memory losses. In contrast, the cognitive functions of the animals treated with cannabis were just as good as the two-month-old control animals. “The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals,” reported Professor Andreas Zimmer from the Institute of Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Bonn and member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation.
According to the study’s researchers, the next step conducting a clinical trial to investigate whether THC also reverses ageing processes in the brain in humans and can increase cognitive ability.
The North Rhine-Westphalia science minister Svenja Schulze appeared thrilled by the study: “The promotion of knowledge-led research is indispensable, as it is the breeding ground for all matters relating to application. Although there is a long path from mice to humans, I feel extremely positive about the prospect that THC could be used to treat dementia, for instance.”