Pot makes older people smarter but impairs younger people, scientists say

A low dose of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, could help improve brain function and cognitive ability in aging people, at least it seemed to help older mice, a German team of scientists said, but the reverse was true in younger mice.

A new study in the journal “Nature Medicine” found a daily dose of cannabis extract, not only dramatically improved learning and memory performance in older mice, it significantly impaired the performance in younger mice. 

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The study concluded that “chronic, low-dose treatment with THC or cannabis extracts could be a potential strategy to slow down or even to reverse cognitive decline in the elderly.”

The “results reveal a profound, long-lasting improvement of cognitive performance resulting from a low dose of THC treatment in mature and old animals,” the study said. 

Ultimately, the study could help find a treatment to stave off cognitive decline in the elderly.

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“If we can rejuvenate the brain so that everybody gets five to 10 more years without needing extra care, then that is more than we could have imagined,” Andras Bilkei-Gorzo, the lead study researcher with the University of Bonn, told The Guardian.

Clinical trials on humans are planned for later this year, and scientists said the impaired performance impact of THC on younger mice deserves more research, too.

The green leafy plant and extract oil used to make medicinal cannabis is shown in this photo. A new study finds low doses of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, could dramatically improve cognitive function in older people. 
Photo: bdspn/Getty Images/iStockphoto

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