Ganja Good for Geezers?

A recent study in Nature Medicine suggests that THC might reverse the deterioration processes in the brains of the elderly from the aging process.
Quoting from the report on the study:

Memory performance decreases with increasing age. Cannabis can reverse these ageing processes in the brain. This was shown in mice by scientists at the University of Bonn with their colleagues at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel). Old animals were able to regress to the state of two-month-old mice with a prolonged low-dose treatment with a cannabis active ingredient.

This study, though done in mice, is worthy of serious consideration because the researchers laid a solid scientific foundation for exploring the role of THC in the ageing process in the brains of mice. For example, the report on study stated:

This treatment success is the result of years of meticulous research. First of all, the scientists discovered that the brain ages much faster when mice do not possess any functional receptors for THC. *** THC imitates the effect of cannabinoids produced naturally in the body, which fulfill important functions in the brain. ‘With increasing age, the quantity of the cannabinoids naturally formed in the brain reduces,” says Prof. Zimmer. “When the activity of the cannabinoid system declines, we find rapid ageing in the brain.’

(quote continuing) To discover precisely what effect the THC treatment has in old mice, the researchers examined the brain tissue and gene activity of the treated mice. The findings were surprising: the molecular signature no longer corresponded to that of old animals, but was instead very similar to that of young animals. The number of links between the nerve cells in the brain also increased again, which is an important prerequisite for learning ability. “It looked as though the THC treatment turned back the molecular clock,” says Zimmer.

The next step, of course, will be to conduct this type of study on the ageing brain in humans. Clearly, one should not rush out to urge old geezers like the writer of this blog post to start smoking ganja (one of many names for marijuana) for many reasons, including danger to recovery and serious side effects of THC in some users (exacerbated in the elderly), to name a few. It is of interest to note that the researchers in this study used a low dose of the THC to prevent an “intoxicating effect.”
Comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, 05/10/2017.

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