Elements found in marijuana can be beneficial to ageing brains and can even stimulate the growth of new brain cells – according to Ohio State University scientists.
Their research suggests that a legal drug derived from marijuana could even be used to slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
The medicinal properties of cannabis is contained in tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC, which is the main psychoactive element the dope plant contains.
Principal researcher and Ohio University professor, Gary Wenk, said THC in small doses can give some protection against inflammation of the brain.
“It’s not that everything immoral is good for the brain,” he said. “It’s just that there are some substances that millions of people for thousands of years have used in billions of doses, and we’re noticing there’s a little signal above all the noise.”
Professor Wenk has recorded improved memory in animals exposed to a synthetic form of THC.
His research team are now trying to find out why and how it works.
They already know that THC can reduce brain inflammation and promote the production of new neurons, or brain cells.
“Knowing exactly how any of these compounds work in the brain can make it easier for drug designers to target specific systems with agents that will offer the most effective anti-aging benefits,” said Professor Wenk.
The professor would not rule out that smoking dope may prevent Alzheimer’s disease if the disease is in a person’s family history.
“It might actually work,” he said. “What we are saying is it appears that a safe, legal substance that mimics those important properties of marijuana can work on receptors in the brain to prevent memory impairments in aging. So that’s really hopeful.”
But one this clear said the professor, once a person’s memory is damaged the drug will have no useful effect.
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