How Do Cannabinoids Keeps the Brain from Slowing Down?
A German study found that brains of older mice benefited from cannabinoids. The main chemical tested is known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The gains were incredibly significant because the minds of older mice were on par with the minds of other younger mice who were abstained from cannabis.
THC was tested on several mice from different ages for two months. The tests were all repeated daily. The tests included navigating through a water maze and recognizing familiar objects. Younger mice on THC struggled to accomplish their tasks, but the older mice showed better brain performance.
How Do Older Mice Benefit from THC?
The biochemical pathway of older mice grows less active over time, but science has shown that THC causes their brain’s biochemical pathways to grow more active. The results are astonishing because a low dose of THC was all that was needed to engage these biochemical pathways.
The mice did not seem to experience the effects normally associated with consuming THC though. The older mice on small amounts of THC could accomplish their tasks as well or better than younger mice who were THC free. This has big implications to how we approach human testing in the future.
What Are University Scientists Hoping to Accomplish with Their Findings?
Researchers from the Hebrew University and the University of Bonn plan on starting human trials by the end of the year. Human testing will be similar to the mouse studies and explore the ramifications of various levels of use. Basically, humans of varying ages will be tested with familiar tasks on a daily basis to see if they get worse at them.
This is just the first phase of testing. The hope is that the older human brain can be regenerated by at least five years to a decade without the use or need of extra invasive care. We are still a long way from receiving cannabis treatments for things like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia but this is an important step in the right direction.