According to the journal Nature Medicine, an international team of researchers have proposed an unusual remedy against the cognitive decline that comes with old age and affects to memory or learning capacity: small, daily doses of cannabis extract.
The idea emerged from a series of experiments on mice that showed regular consumption of reduced doses of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) -the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis- inhibited memory and learning abilities in young rodents, whereas in the old mice the result was the opposite and these abilities were intensified.
Scientists describe the effects of THC consumption for a month to mice aged two month, one year, and 18 month. The rodents were subjected to different tests to determine the effects, such as overcoming a water maze as soon as possible or recognizing objects and other mice with which they were familiar. In addition, they measured molecular changes in the brain.
At the same time younger mice plummeted under the effects of the active substance, the older mice improved their scores to the average level of healthy young mice that had not consumed the drug. The benefits of cannabinoid lasted for weeks. None of the mice showed any strange behaviour attributable to narcotic drugs.
In quantifying the changes produced, the group of scientists not only aims to reduce the progressive loss of cognitive functions in people, but also to reverse these trends. The first experiments with people are scheduled for this year.
“These results reveal a profound, long-lasting improvement of cognitive performance resulting from a low dose of THC treatment in mature and old animals,” the scientists said to The Guardian.
However, the researchers explain the opposite effects depend on the dose, the age and the personal characteristics. So, the possibility of doctors prescribing cannabis or THC is still a long way off.