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Can Marijuana Slow down Brain Aging?

As we grow older, our memory becomes 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 start of the decade, scientists have been studying the ability of substances similar to marijuana that produce the brain’s cannabinoid system. In experiments done on animals, synthetic constituents similar to THC, the major psychoactive element in Marijuana, have shown potential in keeping 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 most recent review proves that activating the cannabinoid System in the brain can trigger a type of anti-oxidant cleanse, removing damaged cells and improving the effectiveness of the mitochondria that are the main source of energy which forces the cells leading to 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 tissues in the brain and enhances 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 revealed that mice which weren’t exposed to The cannabinoid receptors have great memory early in life but it declined 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 conclusive studies to support the idea that marijuana can improve brain functions among the elderly but it is a critical area of investigation.

More to this, the research included in the review provided conflicting results. Even though some trials were conducted on cannabinoids for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, the studies did not give a conclusive solution on whether cannabinoids contribute to the increase or progression of the disease.

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