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Study: Marijuana Improves the Memory and Learning Abilities of old Mice

By KM Diaz, | May 09, 2017

Minimum dosage of the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana - tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - improves the cognitive abilities of old mice.  (YouTube)

Minimum dosage of the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana - tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - improves the cognitive abilities of old mice. (YouTube)

Marijuana could be a potential treatment to reverse age-related decline in cognitive abilities. A new study has found that a specific ingredient of cannabis improves the memory and learning abilities of old mice.

Minimum dosage of the main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana - tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - improves the cognitive abilities of old mice. Because of this finding, researchers believe that marijuana could reverse the aging of humans in the future, and that the THC has the potential to treat other diseases because of its various health benefits.

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Recently, the Oxford University in the U.K. launched a £10 million ($13 million) program to understand other medical therapies within the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cannabinoids. In the United States, Food and Drug Administration approved other medications derived from THC.

Some scientists are also looking for other health benefits of THC, which has previously shown its potential to treat neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. Now, researchers from the University of Bonn, Germany, discovered an additional benefits of THC. The study was published in Nature Medicine.

The researchers, led by Andreas Zimmer, probed the impact of THC on the aging brain of old mice. Low doses of THC were administered to mice from three different phases in life - 2 months, 12 months, and 18 months. The last group represents the old mice. After that, the team conducted 3 experiments.

First, the mice went to a water maze to learn and remember how to navigate their way up to the end of the maze. In the control group, old mice did not do well compared to the young mice. Meanwhile, in the group treated with THC, old mice performed well, and young mice fared far worse.

The researchers noted that the THC still has detrimental effects on young animals and humans, so caution is still needed.

The next task of the mice is to find specific objects, in which older mice treated with THC remains to perform well, while young mice were not provided with the drug. The final test involved partner recognition. The same result observed, old mice administered with THC developed their memory.

According to the researchers, these results could present a concrete evident that low dose of THC treatment improves the cognitive performance of mature and old animals. Furthermore, THC seems to prompt an improvement in repairing hippocampal gene transcription patterns - brain's action in memory and learning - which is also seen in a phase of normal young mice.

However, the team was still not sure if the outcomes will be the same in humans, though they assumed that the findings could lead in developing new treatments to prevent cognitive decline among older people.

The researchers wrote in a statement that cannabis, as well as THC preparations for medicinal purposes, have shown an excellent safety record. There are no reported cases of adverse side-effects when administered at a low dose to older individuals. Therefore, low-dose therapy using cannabis or THC extracts could be a treatment to reverse cognitive decline among elderly in the future.

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