Most Marijuana studies in this country highlight teenagers using black market illegal “weed” These studies indicate that adolescents who frequently smoke cannabis may show impairment of learning and memory. Regular consumption of high dose THC may in time trigger psychosis in at risk teens.
A very different outcome was noted in studying elderly mice. According to a “Scientific American” article, older mice who were administered THC one of the main ingredients in marijuana had a profound improvement in cognitive abilities compared to their baseline skills. Shocking the researchers, these treated mice showed an increase in neurons around the hippocampus portion of the brain compared to the untreated controls. Prior to this finding, it was widely held that it was not possible to increase neuron development as we age. How did this happen? The answer – the endocannabanoid system.
The endocannabanoid system (ECS) is a naturally occurring internal thermostat that controls many hormonal functions, regulates appetite pain, mood and memory. The ECS slowly develops from birth until during adolescence when it expands very rapidly which lends insight into teens’possible neurotoxicity from cannabis use. As we age however ,the ECS slowly declines and with it the ability to protect our memory and ability to learn.
Ongoing long-term studies in Germany suggest that cannabis use in persons over the age of 50 may prevent the decline of our endocannabanoid system and protect our brain from decline. New studies have been started in people who already have cognitive impairment to see if dementia can be reversed in early stages.
Cannabis with its several hundred compounds is an intriguing plant with extensive medical applications. Slowing down the aging of our brain is now gaining attention. It is time for this country to increase the research in humans.
The following is a post written by SWFL Integrative Medicine.