- Cannabis drugs are given at a low dose to relieve pain.
- Scientists have found cannabis to be effective in reversing the aging process in the brain and restore memory.
- Further research and clinical trials would help to investigate the effect of the drug on humans.
The performance of your memory would decrease as you age. Cannabis has been found to reverse the aging process in the brain, finds a new study from the University of Bonn along with their colleagues at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel).
A research study which was conducted in mice found old animals to be active as a two-month-old mice with a prolonged low-dose treatment of cannabis.
‘Tetrahydrocannabinol in Cannabis found to reverse aging and restore the memory performance.’
The study results which were published in the journal Nature Medicine
could open new options for treating dementia.
Aging of the brain is quite common; this could also promote dementia. However, researchers have been trying to find out new ways to slow down or reverse the process.
Why was Mice Used?
- These animals have relatively short life expectancy
- Pronounced cognitive deficits were seen early at one year of age
The research team also administered a small quantity of Tetrahydro cannabinol (THC), that is an active ingredient of Cannabis (Hemp) to the mice which is aged at two, twelve or 18 months for a period of four weeks.
Research Study and Findings
The study was based on testing the learning capacity and memory performance in the animals. This could include orientation skills and mice recognition.
The mice which were given only placebo were found to display age-dependent learning and memory losses.
When treated with cannabis, the cognitive functions of the mice were similar to that of the two-month-old control animals.
Prof. Andreas Zimmer, Institute of Molecular Psychiatry, University of Bonn, member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation, said, "The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals."
Demanding Research Over the Years
The success of the treatment is solely based on the meticulous research that has been carried out all through the years. The researchers found that the brain could age must faster in mice if it does not possess any functional receptors for Tetrahydrocannabinol.
Cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors are functional receptors or proteins which could dock and trigger a signal chain. This receptor is also considered to be the reason for the intoxicating effect of Tetrahydrocannabinol in cannabis products like marijuana which tend to accumulate in the receptor.
The tetrahydrocannabinol would try to imitate the cannabinoid efficacy that is naturally present in the body.
Professor Zimmer, said, "With increasing age, the quantity of the cannabinoids naturally formed in the brain reduces."
"When the activity of the cannabinoid system declines, we find rapid aging in the brain."
Examining the Brain Tissue
The research team examined the brain tissue and also the gene activity of the treated mice. The study findings showed that the molecular signature may not correspond to old animals but was similar to the young animals.
The links between the brain cells were found to increase again and is also an important criteria for improving the learning ability.
The author also said that the treatment would turn back the molecular dock.
Clinical Trials in the Future
Cannabis products are used as analgesics to provide pain relief. A low dose of the drug was administered to mice.
Further research on how to conduct a clinical trial and investigate the THC also helps to reverse the aging processes in the brain and improve memory.
Svenja Schulze, North Rhine-Westphalia science minister, said, "The promotion of knowledge-led research is indispensable, as it is the breeding ground for all matters relating to application. Although there is a long path from mice to humans, I feel extremely positive about the prospect that THC could be used to treat dementia, for instance."
- Andras Bilkei-Gorzo, Onder Albayram, Astrid Draffehn, Kerstin Michel, Anastasia Piyanova, Hannah Oppenheimer, Mona Dvir-Ginzberg, Ildiko Rácz, Thomas Ulas, Sophie Imbeault, Itai Bab, Joachim L Schultze, Andreas Zimmer. A chronic low dose of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) restores cognitive function in old mice. Nature Medicine, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nm.4311