(JNS.org) A joint Israeli-German study has found that the primary psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), may offer a cure for dementia.
The study, conducted by scientists at Germany’s University of Bonn and Israel’s Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discovered that THC improves cognitive functioning and memory performance when administered in small controlled doses in old mice.
The study also discovered that administering THC created an increased number of links between nerve cells in the brain, a crucial prerequisite for learning.
The findings may contribute to the development of new treatments for human cognitive disorders, most notably dementia.
“The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals,” said Prof. Andreas Zimmer of Bonn University’s Institute of Molecular Psychiatry.
“The THC treatment induced molecular and epigenetic changes, which no longer corresponded to that of untreated old animals, but rather were similar to what we see in young animals,” said Hebrew University researcher Dr. Mona Dvir-Ginzberg.
Researchers now hope to conduct clinical trials to find out whether or not THC has the same positive effect in humans.
Hebrew University professor Raphael Mechoulam initially discovered THC in the 1960s. Since then, Israeli hospitals have demonstrated a willingness to perform clinical trials on the effectiveness of cannabis in relieving the symptoms of tens of thousands of patients suffering from chronic or terminal conditions.