Scientific work on the effects of cannabis against brain degeneration.
Researchers at the University of Bonn, assisted by their colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have found that cannabis has age-reversing effects in the brains of mice. It confirms previous studies on the plant's potential against the degeneration of nerve cells, and explains the existence of patents dating from the end of the 90s.
Aging and the brain
One of the most obvious signs of aging is a decrease in cognitive function and the ability to learn. Usually, these problems are expressed in the form of memory impairment.
This decrease in memory retention and memories is considered normal. It is often associated with more serious disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
A team of scientists from the University of Bonn and their colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered a potential treatment to reverse aging of the brain.
In their research, published in the journal Nature Medicine, the team showed how a cannabis treatment successfully reversed the biological state of the brain of 12-month and 18-month-old mice. This is remarkable, because mice age remarkably quickly and serve as a viable animal model when looking for potential treatments in humans.
A THC-based treatment against degeneration.
The team used two-month-old mice as a control group. The older mice were given THC for a period of four weeks at very moderate dosages. Their tests revealed that the mice given THC displayed cognitive abilities as good as those in the control group.
During this time, the older mice that received a placebo showed habitual learning ability and normal memory performance for the older mice.
The results that follow are simply remarkable.
“The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in older animals,” said researcher Andreas Zimmer, from the Institute for Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Bonn.
Reassemble the biological clock
These opposite effects of cannabis occur when THC mimics the effect of naturally produced cannabinoids in the body, which are crucial for some of the important functions of the brain.
“With age, the amount of naturally formed cannabinoids in the brain decreases,” Zimmer explains. “When the activity of the cannabinoid system declines, we find rapid aging in the brain. "
In addition, the researchers realized that cannabis rejuvenates brain cells in mice. To this end, they saw that the links between nerve cells increased and that their molecular signature resembled that of young people.
"It seemed that the THC treatment had set back the molecular clock," Zimmer says.
The potential for humans
Treatment, if effective in humans, could help improve conditions for people with dementia. This disease, which affects more than 47 million people worldwide, often leads to cognitive disabilities. Memory loss and behavioral disturbances prevent a patient from performing their daily tasks.
Svenja Schulze, Minister of Science of North Rhine-Westphalia is optimistic. According to her, this study could be useful for the future treatment of the elderly.
“The promotion of knowledge-based research is essential, as it is the breeding ground for all questions relating to application,” she said in the press release. “Although there is a long road from mice to humans, I am extremely optimistic about the possibility of using THC to treat dementia, for example. "
To that end, Zimmer and his team are now preparing for human clinical trials.
In addition, the study indicates that cannabis appears to have a positive role in treating neurological disorders.
However, this work is still early. Further studies are needed to further investigate the medical effects. The uses of cannabis-based treatments are not immediately intended to cure dementia.
In addition, these studies use carefully controlled conditions. Therefore, this type of result is not seen in people who use cannabis recreationally.
Other ways to fight degeneration of brain tissue
THCA is the acidic state in which the THC molecule is found before its decarboxylation under the effect of heat. Thus, this is how the molecule appears in its natural state in the plant. In this form, it offers no psychoactive effect.
However, it is not without interest. In the case of certain pathologies, such as Huntington's disease. In laboratory, tests on mice have demonstrated the protective effect of this molecule.
Likewise, a US patent published under the reference US6630507 dating from 1999 indicates that cannabinoids can be exploited as an antioxidant and neuroprotector.
This patent is based on the fact that iron concentrations in the body, and therefore in the brain, can lead to degeneration of cellular tissues.
Between brain protection and neurogenesis, cannabis no longer ends up surprising the scientific community.