Daily Dose of This Plant Could Reverse Age-Related Decline in the Brain

The findings of a Yahoo News/Marist poll show that people over the age of 69 generally don’t have positive views of marijuana. While the majority of younger Americans increasingly view marijuana as a legitimate medication and relatively acceptable recreational substance, the older crowd has been slower to adopt these views. In a twist of irony, a recent study shows that a daily dose of cannabis could reverse age-related brain decline in older people.

In the study, using mice, researcher Andreas Zimmer of the University of Bonn in Germany gave low doses of THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, to young, mature, and aged mice. The young mice performed slightly worse on memory and learning tests – no one was shocked by that result. The rodents took longer to find a safe platform hidden in a water maze, and had a more difficult time recognizing another mouse they’d previously “met.” [1]

Before receiving THC, the mature and aged mice performed worse on the tests than the younger mice did. Once they received the compound, however, the elderly mice’s performance improved so much that their test scores matched those of their younger counterparts.

Zimmer says:

“The effects were very robust, very profound.”

The changes were also visible in the mice’s brains. The researchers noticed that the critters’ hippocampus – the area of the brain that is critical for learning and memory – had grown more synaptic spines, the points of contact for communication between neurons. Furthermore, radical changes were seen in the gene expression pattern in the hippocampi of the aged mice treated with THC, rendering their brains completely different from those of the young, untreated mice.

Zimmer explains:

“That is something we absolutely did not expect: the old animals [that received] THC looked most similar to the young, untreated control mice.”

The researchers have a theory as to why marijuana rejuvenates aging mice brains. Marijuana stimulates the endocannabinoid system, a biochemical pathway that slows with age in mice, humans, and other animals. But there is no guarantee that these results can be replicated in humans. [2]

Source: Collective Evolution

David Nutt, the former government drugs adviser and professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, says:

“The key question now is does the same apply to humans? Clearly this needs to be tested, but it will not be possible in the UK due to the ridiculous restrictions on cannabis research occasioned by its being a schedule 1 drug.”

Related: 4 Studies Proving That Marijuana Can Treat Brain Cancer

Michael Bloomfield, a clinical lecturer in psychiatry at University College London, notes:

“What is particularly exciting about this research is that it opens up a whole new chemical system, the endocannabinoid system, as a potential target for new avenues of research, which could include illnesses like dementia. However, we are still in very early days and further research is needed.”

Source: Herb.co

Cannabis hasn’t been intensely studied for medical purposes for very long, and it’s going to be tricky teasing out details, like how much of a dose is considered ideal. According to Bloomfield, THC sometimes has the opposite of the desired effect on people, depending on the dose, the patient’s age, and how often it is administered.

“This means that the possibility of doctors potentially prescribing cannabis, THC or similar compounds for memory problems in older people is still a long way off.”

So, it will likely be years before doctors are able to accurately prescribe marijuana for aging brains, but it’s an exciting possibility that could make the Golden Years much happier for senior citizens.

Andreas Bilkei-Gorzo, a researcher at the University of Bonn, is hopeful that marijuana can help people squeeze more years out of their life. [3]

“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.”

The study is published in the journal Nature.

Sources:

[1] Scientific American

[2] The Guardian

[3] Daily Caller

Collective Evolution

Herb.co


Storable Food


7 Fascinating Facts About The Endocannabinoid System You Probably Didn’t Know

Did you know you have an endocannabinoid system? A year ago, I didn’t either. That’s because unless you’re a research scientist or work in the field of medical cannabis, it’s unlikely you’ll ever have heard of it. And yet, the endocannabinoid system has been hailed as “the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health.”

Why do so few people know about the endocannabinoid system?

It might have something to do with how the endocannabinoid system (ECS) was discovered. Back in the 1990s, scientists were trying to understand how THC, the psychoactive substance in the cannabis plant, affects the body. What they uncovered was a complex network of receptors (CB1) in the brain and central nervous system that were a perfect fit for the THC molecule.

Soon after, another type of receptor (CB2) was discovered in the immune system, gut, and many of the body’s major organs. But that was only part of the puzzle. The hunt was on to find out whether the body produced its own cannabis-like chemicals, and with the identification of the first endocannabinoid, Anandamide, they had their answer.

What does the endocannabinoid system do?

What scientists have realized is that the endocannabinoid system fine-tunes most of our vital physiological functions, bringing balance to everything from sleep, appetite, and pain to inflammation, memory, mood, and even reproduction. So in basic terms, it’s like an orchestral conductor, ensuring that no one section drowns out the other.

So, it’s time to bring this fascinating biological system out of the laboratory, and get to grips with some endocannabinoid system basics.

1. Humans aren’t alone in having an ECS

As humans beings, we’re not special for having an ECS. Not only is the endocannabinoid system found in all vertebrates, but scientists also discovered cannabinoid receptors in non-vertebrate sea-squirts, suggesting an evolutionary process dating back 600 million years ago.

2. Endocannabinoid receptors are the most abundant neurotransmitter receptors in the brain

Most of us have heard — they’re the chemicals that communicate information throughout the brain and body. Serotonin and dopamine are perhaps the most well known examples, but it’s the endocannabinoid Anandamide, also classed as a neurotransmitter, that has the most receptors in the brain.

3. Increased endocannabinoid system activity has been noted in many diseases

As the endocannabinoid system’s modus operandi is to bring balance to the body, it’s no surprise that scientists have observed elevated ECS activity in a number of illnesses. Everything from neurodegenerative diseases to rheumatoid arthritis and cancer have shown changes in endocannabinoid levels and greater receptor expression.

4. ‘Endocannabinoid System Deficiency’ might be a cause of some illnesses

But what happens if the ECS becomes depleted? Scientists have observed how, in certain conditions associated with oversensitivity to pain such as migraines, fibromyalgia, and IBS, the ECS appears to have become weakened. The theory is known as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency, and it is believed that supplementing the body with compounds from the cannabis plant can correct this deficiency and improve symptoms.

5. The ECS explains why medicinal cannabis has a therapeutic effect

Prior to 20th century prohibition, cannabis had been used for thousands of years to treat a whole host of ailments, like epilepsy, headaches, arthritis, pain, depression, and nausea. Back then, nobody knew why the plant showed such therapeutic versatility. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system soon shone new light onto the medicinal effects of cannabis.

According to Dustin Sulak, a leading medical cannabis expert: “Research has shown that small doses of cannabinoids from cannabis can signal the body to make more endocannabinoids and build more cannabinoid receptors.” He goes on, “I believe that small, regular doses of cannabis might act as a tonic to our most central physiologic healing system.”

6. You don’t have to break the law to give your endocannabinoid system a boost

Currently, medical cannabis-friendly countries are in the minority across the planet. So what can you do if can’t legally access the plant?

Well, you could consider trying CBD, a non-psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant that has a whole host of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, calming feelings of anxiety, and even lowering the frequency of epileptic seizures. CBD is normally extracted from cannabis plants with less than 0.2% THC, commonly referred to as hemp or industrial hemp, allowing it to be bought legally in most countries worldwide.

Another option is to peel yourself off the sofa and get moving. Scientists have found that prolonged aerobic exercise increases levels of the feel-good endocannabinoid anandamide. Diet is also a useful target. Increasing your intake of Omega 3, found in oily fish or healthy seeds like flax or hemp, can help support endocannabinoid brain signalling.

7. Most doctors know very little about the endocannabinoid system

With the ECS playing such a central role in our health, you would think that any self-respecting member of the medical profession would have some knowledge of its existence. But in mainstream medicine, the endocannabinoid system remains rather a pariah.

In 2013, a survey was conducted asking medical schools in the United States whether the ECS formed part of their curriculum. The authors found that only “13% teach the endocannabinoid system to future doctors.”

So now you’re endocannabinoid savvy, there’s no turning back. Join me and start spreading the word to all who will listen. It’s time that the ECS is given the attention it deserves, both by our healthcare providers and the public at large.

Further Reading

The Discovery of the Endocannabinoid System by Martin A. Lee

Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System by Dustin Sulak

Interview on Project CBD with Dr Ethan Russo talking about Endocannabinoid System Deficiency