A new study suggests that a psychoactive cannabis extract called THC or tetrahydrocannabinol may assist and protect human brains in improving memory in old age.
Researchers from the Hebrew and Bonn University discovered that THC — a key active element found in cannabis — may have positive effects by reversing the decline of cognitive functioning, which occurs in our brains with age.
What Is Tetrahydrocannabinol?
Tetrahydrocannabinol or dronabinol is commonly known as Marinol (i.e. man-made cannabis). THC is the key constituent or psychoactive part of cannabis. The compound — when clear — sports a clear gold or amber-colored glassy liquid look and becomes sticky and vicious when warmed.
The compound is medically approved for the treatment of HIV and AIDS in anorexic people. THC is also used to treat vomiting and refractory nausea for individuals undergoing chemotherapy.
Regular Dose Of Marijuana Helps Brain In Old Age?
The study tested THC on mice to arrive at the conclusion that cannabis improves memory in older brains. To test the effect of the chemical compound on brains from different ages, mice from three different age groups — two months, one year, and one year six months — were treated with THC for a month.
After the completion of the month-long course, all the mice underwent obstacle- and recognition-based tests to validate the effectiveness of THC on their brains. They were tested to find their way out of a water maze with old and new configurations. The mice also had to identify familiar objects.
What Did The Researchers Find?
The researchers observed the effects on both the older and younger mice when THC was administered or not given to them.
The younger mice performed well sans THC in their system, but struggled significantly under the influence of THC. On the other hand, the older mice who struggled in the tasks without the support from THC performed extraordinarily well when THC was administered.
With the compound in their system, the older mice got a considerable boost in their brain activity and performance.
The boost given by the THC put the old mice at par with the performance of the younger mice who did not have THC in their system. The researchers asserted that no mice displayed the bizarre effects of a THC dose, which one may expect.
"Together, these results reveal a profound, long-lasting improvement of cognitive performance resulting from a low dose of THC treatment in mature and old animals," the researchers noted.
A human clinical trial to observe the effects of THC on human brains has been scheduled for the later part of 2017. The key findings of the study have been published in journal Nature Medicine on Monday, May 8.