The active ingredient in marijuana can improve the memories of Alzheimer's disease, predict the preliminary results of a mouse study.
Mice treated with THC, the psychoactive substance in weeds, saw a 20 percent reduction in brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Those animals also showed signs of behavior that their memories were better than those of Alzheimer's mice that were not treated with THC in the preliminary results of a German study presented this week at the Society for Neuroscience conference.
Paradoxically, marijuana is actually a hindrance to memory and animal learning (and people) who do not have the debilitating memory loss disease.
The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, damages memory and learns in healthy brains, but can counteract the development of Alzheimer's plaques and protect cognition in diseased brains
Now that marijuana is legal for medical or recreational use in more than half of the US states, the drug is not only used by more widely studied.
Historically it has been seen by some as a curative herb and for others as a harmful medicine.
So far, our scientific study of the effects of marijuana has shown that they are equally split (but not nearly as extreme) as older, less fact-based opinions.
Cannabis can really relieve pain, but it is not a cure.
And it can really create feelings of paranoia and fear – but they are not permanent.
Now, new research suggests that marijuana may be bad for memory – but good for the memories of people with the worst dementia.
A new study in mice suggests that THC – the same ingredient that users use the & # 39; high & # 39; feeling and learning and inhibiting memory – can reduce the effects of Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Yvonne Bouter and her team at the University Medical Center Goettingen in Germany started treating a group of mice with THC for six weeks.
Both that group and the control group of the study were bred to develop Alzheimer's.
And they did – but the disease clearly caused less damage to the brains of the mice treated with THC.
Alzheimer's disease is characterized by memory disorders and confusion, in terms of behavior.
Physiologically, a substance called amyloid beta builds up overtime on the brains of Alzheimer's patients. It is assumed that these so-called plaques disrupt the function of brain cells and are regarded as the classic signal of the disease.
Scientists have also noted that Alzheimer patients lose brain mass and think that chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of dementia.
Due to all these measures, the THC-containing mice were in better shape.
Their brains had 20 percent fewer amyloid beta plaques and showed fewer signs of inflammatory damage.
The mice that received THC also performed better when testing their memories.
Success in these experiments suggests that marijuana may be useful for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease in humans.
But we have little idea how the therapy works.
However, it is not the first study to link THC and Alzheimer's.
A 2014 study suggests that the brain system of receptors for cannabis – the endocannabinoid system – may play a role in Alzheimer's disease.
An important substance in the development of Alzheimer's disease is called A-beta, but it is not always clear how it damaged the memory networks of the brain.
Endocannabinoids draw the attention of the brain to important new information what it should look out for. But only a few A-beta's can block endocannabinoid receptors.
Endocannabinoids are used by major brain cells of plasticity, so when endocannabinoids are not in use, plasticity is reduced.
After their study in 2014, the Stanford researchers did not think THC or marijuana were promising for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
They said that marijuana overflows the endocannabinoid system with THC & # 39 ;, which means that it does not know what to pay attention to, while the small, rapid bursts of the brain of endocannabinoid receptors keep the attention focused. on important information.
Endocannabinoids in the brain are very transient and only work when important inputs come in., Said Dr. Daniel Madison, author of the 2014 study, in a statement.
& # 39; Marijuana exposure over minutes or hours is different: more like improving everything without distinction, so you lose the filter effect. It is like listening to five radio stations at once. & # 39;
It is unclear what dose of THC the German scientists have given to the mice they have studied, but it may shed light on how marijuana can be maneuvered to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.