Could cannabis stop brain rot?

Popular theory (usually from those who don’t know) suggests that cannabis use depletes brain activity. But a new study has found that the active ingredient in cannabis may actually restore memory and reverse the effects of ageing on the brain.

The study, published in Nature Medicine, was conducted on a group of mice over one month by scientists in Germany.

One group of mice was given small amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, while the other was given a placebo.

After 28 days, the mice underwent cognitive tests. The results were quite surprising.

The older mice, which had received THC, became smarter over time, and their intellectual ability matched that of the younger mice that were given placebos.

After the test was completed, the scientists examined the brains of all the mice. They found that the brains of mice which received THC were physically altered. They looked exactly like the brains of the younger mice on placebos.

This may sound like good news for humans, but as ABC science commentator Dr Karl Kruszelnicki explains, mice are not human.

“In fact, the brains of mice are very different from the brains of humans. As an example, we have found about a thousand treatments that help with Alzheimer’s disease in mice. How many of them work in humans? Maybe three, and that’s a big maybe,” wrote Dr Karl.

Still, scientists are encouraged enough by these results to begin looking at THC’s potential use as a treatment for neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. The next logical step would be clinical trials on humans.

“Although there is a long path from mice to humans, I feel extremely positive about the prospect that THC could be used to treat dementia, for instance,” said North Rhine-Westphalia Science Minister Svenja Schulz.

Would you be inclined to partake in clinical trials?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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