Scientists have successfully reversed aging in the brain of elderly mice, by administering them with low-dose cannabis.
A collaboration between scientists from Germany and Israel have found success using a low-dose of THC derived from cannabis to reverse brain aging in aging mice. The research teams from the University of Bonn and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem completed the mice experiments as a culmination of many years of meticulous study into the subject. The Scientists hope that further human clinical trials could lead to a successful treatment for dementia.
As with all our organs, the brain’s cognitive abilities decline with age. Memories fade, and learning new things can be difficult, and take longer. Devoting our attention to too many things at once can become more overwhelming. Gradually, scientists are coming up with many ways to delay or reverse aging in the body potentially, and the brain is also no exception in their quest for finding the fountain of youth.
The effects of THC on the brain
Researchers chose mice as their test subjects due to their relatively short lifespans of between 2-3 years. They conducted experiments on mice aged between 18 months and two years, which is the approximate equivalent of human adults that have reached their 70s. Additionally, this is also the age where experts have observed mice beginning to lose their cognitive abilities. The scientists gave half of the test subjects a placebo and the other half low-dose THC for the duration of four weeks.
Researchers chose a low-dose THC treatment with a cannabis active ingredient to prevent the mice from becoming intoxicated. Their primary concern was for the health benefits. Levels that would create intoxication would deem the treatment worthless. Ultimately, at the conclusion of the four weeks, the scientists ran tests on the mice to ascertain their memory and learning capacity.
The mice undertook exercises which measured how well they recognized other mice, and their ability to orientate themselves.
Mice from the placebo group maintained the cognitive abilities expected for their age. However, the cognitive abilities of the mice who had received the low-dose of THC improved dramatically. Scientists were shocked to discover that the THC had restored the mice’s cognitive ability to that of a 2-month-old. In other words, their brains began to function again at the capacity equivalent to a 20-year-old human adult.
The scientists dissected the brains of the mice who had received the THC dose. Subsequently, they discovered the effects that it had had on them. Upon examining the membranes, the researchers noticed that, compared to the elderly mice who had not received the THC, the brains of mice age faster as the functionality of their THC receptors declines. By increasing the levels of THC in their bodies, their brains appeared able to benefit.
Natural endogenous cannabinoids
Human brains, like mice brains, contain protein receptors called cannabinoid 1 (CB1). These receptors are configured biologically to enable such substances to “dock.” Once docked, this triggers a signal chain which creates the intoxicating effects. The reason such receptors exist in our brain is that our bodies produce endogenous cannabinoids through our endocannabinoid system.
As we age, these receptors deteriorate, and conditions such as dementia can develop. A way to naturally preserve our CB1 receptors is to increase Omega-3 fatty acids within our diet. Such foods as red kidney beans, walnuts, cold pressed flax seed oil, and dark leafy greens contain this essential fatty acid crucial for maintaining brain health and function.
Human trials with low-dose THC are set to begin shortly.