THC has a beneficial influence on the aging brain, reversing the aging process and improving cognitive function, raising the possibility it might be useful for the treatment of dementia in the elderly
18-month-old mice given THC at 2, 12 and 18 months demonstrated cognitive skills equal to 2-month-old controls, while the placebo group suffered cognitive deterioration associated with aging
Previous research has also shown low-dose THC directly impedes buildup of beta amyloid plaque in the brain (a hallmark of Alzheimer’s) and enhances mitochondrial function in the brain
By Dr. Mercola
Regardless of your views on the pros and cons of recreational marijuana, the body of scientific evidence about its medicinal value is getting more compelling as additional research is done. The cannabinoids in cannabis — cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — interact with your body by way of naturally-occurring cannabinoid receptors embedded in cell membranes throughout your body.
In fact, scientists now believe the endocannabinoid system may represent the most widespread receptor system in your body.1 There are cannabinoid receptors in your brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system and more, and both the therapeutic and psychoactive properties of marijuana occur when a cannabinoid activates a cannabinoid receptor.
Your body actually makes its own cannabinoids, similar to those found in marijuana, albeit in much smaller quantities than you get from the plant. The fact that your body is replete with cannabinoid receptors, key to so many biological functions, is why there's such enormous medical potential for cannabis.
The whole plant also contains terpenes that have medicinal properties. More often than not, medicinal marijuana is made from plants bred to have high CBD and low THC content. While THC has psychoactive activity that can make you feel "stoned," CBD has no psychoactive properties. However, recent research shows THC should not be written off completely just because it's psychoactive. It has valuable therapeutic potential in its own right.
THC May Reverse Aging Process in the Brain
According to recent animal research,2 THC has a beneficial influence on the aging brain.3,4 Rather than dulling or impairing cognition, THC appears to reverse the aging process and improve mental processes, raising the possibility it might be useful for the treatment of dementia in the elderly.5
To test the hypothesis, mice were given a small daily dose of THC over the course of one month at the age of 2 months, 12 months and again at 18 months of age. It is important to understand that mice typically live until 2 years old. The dose was small enough to avoid any psychoactive effects.
Tests assessed the animals' learning, memory, orientation and recognition skills. Interestingly, 18-month-old mice given THC demonstrated cognitive skills equal to 2-month-old controls, while the placebo group suffered cognitive deterioration associated with normal aging.