Remember those “this is your brain on drugs” commercials? The message was pretty clear: Getting high fried your brain. Well, call up your D.A.R.E. teacher: According to a new study, low doses of THC (the chemical that gives marijuana its high) can actually be a helpful tool for learning and restoring memory.
Scientists gave mice three milligrams per kilogram of body weight, and found that it actually reversed cognitive damage. And elderly mice who were a little bit high were better at navigating a tricky maze than mice of the same age who were not given THC.
“There’s clearly growing interest in the potential therapeutic role of cannabinoids.”
Why exactly is it so effective? Researchers found that it helps restore the hippocampal gene, which is linked to memory and learning new skills. So does that mean you should have a hash brownie for dessert every night? (You know, for your brain.) Not exactly—especially since the dose they experimented with was so low. But the findings are exciting because they could lead to new treatments for those with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
“There’s clearly growing interest in the potential therapeutic role of cannabinoids and in this particular case THC on various human conditions,” lead researcher Zameel Cader, associate professor in clinical neurosciences at Oxford University tells Newsweek. “This paper is addressing a possible role for that compound in memory and cognition, which is relevant to disorders such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”
Cader says that further testing still needs to be done, but the praise for his initial findings has been, well, high.
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