Not many people associate marijuana with improved mental abilities—probably the opposite, actually—but the scientific community is changing their perception of this herbal drug, thanks to more research showing that it does have anti-aging properties. Specifically, marijuana may actually be an effective treatment option for Alzheimer’s sufferers because of its ability to help maintain brain health.
Alzheimer’s disease is a condition marked by cognitive decline and memory loss caused by malformed proteins, damaged cells, and disrupted neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Several studies have shown that the components in marijuana can help to alleviate some of these symptoms of Alzheimer’s, reversing or even preventing the development of this age-related disease.
One of the chemical compounds in marijuana is THC, which is what’s responsible for making you feel high. Researchers from the University of Connecticut set out to uncover how this active component in marijuana can help treat Alzheimer’s, since, without a cure, the disease is expected to triple over the next five decades. The results of the study found that THC could effectively treat both the progression and the symptoms of Alzheimer’s because it inhibits the production of a natural enzyme (AChE), which in turn reduces the formation of dangerous protein deposits seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Long story short, THC was shown to protect the brain from neurotransmitter degradation, which means that it can help to maintain cognitive function, thereby preventing the development of Alzheimer’s.
Marijuana also contains an active chemical compound called cannabinoids, which have been shown to function as antioxidants in the brain, clearing out damaged cells and triggering the production of new ones. On top of that, cannabinoids can improve the performance of the mitochondria, the part of your brain that is responsible for maintaining cell function. Improved cell function in the brain quells the inflammation that can lead to cognitive decline, allowing older adults to overcome Alzheimer’s and other such age-related diseases that relate to the brain.
More recently, a study out of Australia found that cannabidiol, one of the types of cannabinoids found in marijuana, had a positive effect on mice that were bred to have symptoms that are similar to those seen in Alzheimer’s patients. After being injected with cannabidiol, the mice showed improvements in memory and recognition, which are two of the biggest problems that Alzheimer’s sufferers face. Although the study was done on mice, it shows great promise for human patients.
It’s important to note that these researchers are not suggesting that you go out and spark a joint in an attempt to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. What they’re saying is that marijuana does, in fact, have specific components that can be harbored into safe treatment options for Alzheimer’s and perhaps prevent the progression of this disease from the onset.
Corderoy, A., “Cannabis may help reverse dementia: study,” The Sydney Morning Herald web site, February 6, 2013; https://www.smh.com.au/national/cannabis-may-help-reverse-dementia-study-20130206-2dxsk.html.
Eubanks, L.M., et al., “A Molecular Link Between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology,” Molecular Pharmaceutics 2006; 3(6): 773-777.
Huff, E.A., “Marijuana cannabinoids slow brain degradation and aging, reverse dementia: here’s how,” NaturalNews.com web site, May 23, 2013; https://www.naturalnews.com/040456_marijuana_cannabinoids_dementia.html.
Lawrence, R.G., “Can Marijuana Prevent Alzheimer’s?” Next Avenue web site, October 3, 2012; https://www.nextavenue.org/article/2012-10/can-marijuana-save-aging-brain.