Cannabis researchers have known for a long time that the endocannabinoid system regulates many of the processes involved with the aging process, and that cannabinoids can protect the brain and other organs from age related damage. But there has never been a study done showing outright that marijuana can specifically reverse the effects of aging on the brain after it has taken place.
Until now that is.
In a ground-breaking first of its kind study just published in the academic journal “Nature”, an international team of scientists prove conclusively that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, is able to not only enhance the brain activity of elderly mice but to improve the density of key brain areas, including the hippocampus. In a dramatic turning back of time, these mice then clearly demonstrate an improvement in problem solving and other cognitive functions that normally decline with age.
Remarkably, a single low dose of THC was found to have “lasting effects on learning and memory performance” in the mice tested, regardless of age. Even more miraculously, the THC extract changed the underlying gene expression of 12 month old mice to be identical to that of a 2 month old mouse, meaning that beyond neurological function and even physical structure this powerful natural compound was able to induce “epigenetic” changes in the brain that restore it to its former youthful glory.
For anyone not well versed in evolutionary theory, epigenetics is a fast growing field of discoveries that both challenges and completes Darwin’s theories of natural selection (where fixed genes and traits are passed down through heredity) by showing that gene expression, and therefore actual physical changes (everything from body type to behavior to disease), can be influenced by environmental factors and happen within a single lifetime. In other words, in the nature vs. nurture debate, epigenetics has come forward to show just how powerfully nurturing can override the genetic programming that nature has originally provided.
Yes, we evolve within our lifetime. And now we know that cannabis can advance that evolution.
“These results demonstrate that the cognitive improvements in THC-treated mature mice were associated with a change in gene profiles” the study states, after explaining that the marijuana compound actually upregulated gene transcripts that are known to not only improve cognitive function and protect against age related illnesses like Alzheimer’s Disease but even extend lifespan.
In a time when anti-aging medicine has become a multi-billion dollar industry, despite the risks involved with treatments like Human Growth Hormone and Stem Cell therapy, this new study is completely game-changing. Scientists have been trying to develop epigenetic treatments for age related cognitive impairments for some time but have not been able to come up with anything that does not have serious side effects. Now we know that cannabis can once again do what Big Pharma simply can only dream of.
A natural and abundant plant that has already been proven to have incredible medicinal power across a wide range of therapeutic applications and presents no toxic danger, cannabis is nothing short of a miracle medicine that is here to help us evolve to a healthier and happier future. Playing an important role in human development since the beginning of time, cannabis continues to be a co-evolutionary partner whose relationship to us just gets more and more beautiful as time goes by.
This post was originally published on May 13, 2017, it was updated on October 5, 2017.