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Ways in Which Marijuana May Slow Down Brain Aging

As we grow older; our memory gets poor. Those that smoke marijuana aren’t known for good memory, but a new study suggests that drugs which have components like marijuana’s active ingredients can hold promise for decreasing or slowing down brain aging or even Alzheimer’s and other diseases which degenerate the brain.

Since the beginning of the decade, researchers have been analyzing the power of substances similar to marijuana that constitute the brain’s cannabinoid system. In experiments performed on animals, synthetic components similar to THC, the main psychoactive element in Marijuana, have demonstrated potential in maintaining brain functions. A study conducted in 2008 revealed that a substance much like THC diminished the inflammation and enhanced the memory in rats that were old.

The latest review shows that activating the cannabinoid system in the brain may trigger a type of anti-oxidant cleanse, eliminating damaged cells and enhancing the effectiveness of the mitochondria which is the main source of energy that powers the cells resulting in a brain that functions better. Studies conducted previously have connected cannabinoids to higher amounts of the neurotrophic factor derived from the brain. This chemical is the one which protects the cells in the brain and also promotes the development of new ones. During aging, new brain cells stop growing thus, increasing the BDNF could slow the decrease in cognitive functions. Activating the cannabinoid receptors can diminish the inflammation in the mind in various ways that may subsequently inhibit a number of these disease processes that cause degenerative brain diseases, for instance, Alzheimer’s.

Other studies have demonstrated that mice that were not exposed to the cannabinoid receptors have good memory early in life, but it diminished rapidly as they aged. This finding indicates that at some point during the aging process, the cannabinoid process helped the mice to keep normal cognitive functions. The review though makes a disclaimer that there are no definitive studies to confirm the concept that marijuana can enhance brain functions among the older people but it is a critical area of study.

Moreover, the research included in the review gave conflicting results. Although some trials were conducted on cannabinoids for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, the research did not give a conclusive answer on whether cannabinoids contribute to the growth or progression of this disease.

There have been both political and social challenges in conducting the studies to determine the effectiveness of marijuana in slowing down aging. This implies it might take some time to fill the gaps left by past research studies. Researchers are yet to conduct a concrete study to see if those that smoke marijuana will less likely develop Alzheimer’s. They’re also yet to compare the decrease in the cognitive ability of marijuana smokers to people who do not.