Credit: © Kyle / Fotolia

Credit: © Kyle / Fotolia

Cannabis may reverse the aging processes in the brain

Cannabis may reverse the aging processes in the brain, according to a brand new study from Israel researchers.

Medical marijuana is increasing in popularity as a treatment for many conditions, including eating disorders, cancers, and pain. It is becoming legal in more and more states.

With marijuana being more widely accepted in the U.S. for medical treatment, research has also gone up.

The scientists at University of Bonn and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that cannabis may reverse the aging processes in the brain according to their animal studies.

Old mice were able to go back to the stage of two-month old mice after a prolonged low-dose treatment of an active ingredient in cannabis.

The research team dosed a small quantity of THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana, to mice aged 2, 12, and 18 months over a 4-week period.

After the THC treatment, they tested learning capacity and memory health in animals. Mice who were given a placebo aged normally and showed standard signs of cognitive decline.

In contrast, the animals given THC were just as good at cognitive tests as two-month old mice. “The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals,” reported Prof. Andreas Zimmer from the Institute of Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Bonn and member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation.

The study authors explain the cannabinoid system in the body and how it affects brain aging:

This treatment success is the result of years of meticulous research. First of all, the scientists discovered that the brain ages much faster when mice do not possess any functional receptors for THC. These cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors are proteins to which the substances dock and thus trigger a signal chain. CB1 is also the reason for the intoxicating effect of THC in cannabis products, such as hashish or marihuana, which accumulate at the receptor. THC imitates the effect of cannabinoids produced naturally in the body, which fulfil important functions in the brain.

With increasing age, the quantity of the cannabinoids naturally formed in the brain reduces,” says Prof. Zimmer. “When the activity of the cannabinoid system declines, we find rapid ageing in the brain.”

The researchers believe that their results could open up new ways to treat dementia. Their next step is to test humans.

The study showing that cannabis may reverse the aging processes in the brain was published in the journal Nature Medicine.

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1. “Cannabis Reverses Ageing Processes in the Brain Researchers at the University of Bonn Restore the Memory Performance of Methuselah Mice to a Juvenile Stage.” Universität Bonn. Universität Bonn, n.d. Web. 09 May 2017.
2. “A Chronic Low Dose of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Restores Cognitive Function in Old Mice.” Nature Medicine., n.d. Web. 9 May 2017.

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