Smoking a bowl or two may cause you to forget what you were just talking about from time to time, but a daily dose of cannabis extract might help boost memory and learning potential in the elderly.
This was the takeaway from a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine, in which researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany found that regular doses of THC increased memory and learning in elderly mice.
Scientists are now planning to conduct human trials later this year, as their findings offer an intriguing context for past research showing that heavy cannabis use impairs memory and learning ability in teens.
The research team gave mice of varying ages a low amount of THC every day. They then conducted various cognitive tests on the mice, including measuring the speed at which they solved a water maze and how quickly they recognized familiar mice.
Without the THC dose, the younger mice got perfect scores, but once given THC, they struggled much like the older ones struggled without the cannabis constituent. When the older mice were given cannabis, however, their test scores were on par with the younger, sober mice.
The researchers found that the THC benefits lasted for weeks after the older mice were given their first dose.
“These results reveal a profound, long-lasting improvement of cognitive performance resulting from a low dose of THC treatment in mature and old animals,” the scientists said, adding that they believe the THC stimulates the body’s endocannabinoid system, which becomes less active with age.
Further research is needed to determine whether there could actually be an optimal age for cannabis consumption - but this study is an incredibly promising first step.