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Cannabinoids Reduce Symptoms Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease

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A new research study suggests that cannabinoids may be able to help alleviate memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients.

At a Society for Neuroscience meeting held in San Diego on Nov. 6, scientists reported that synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can help reduce memory loss in mice. The mice were genetically altered to exhibit symptoms that are similar to Alzheimer’s disease in this study.

Genetically modified mice were treated with synthetic THC daily for six weeks. Researchers then regularly performed memory tests, according to the report. Researchers found that the mice that received synthetic THC lost fewer brain cells and had 20 percent less of the sticky plaques that develop in the brain as a result of Alzheimer’s. Some mice were given a placebo instead of the synthetic THC, and those mice lost the ability to remember the location of a shallow spot in a pool of water.

According to researcher Yvonne Bouter of the University Medical Center Goettingen in Germany, the findings suggest that cannabis could be beneficial as a treatment for Alzheimer’s patients. “We did this same experiment in healthy mice,” she said, “and they had problems learning.” THC has been previously shown to negatively affect the memory-making functions in the brain in healthy adults.

“Targeting the endocannabinoid system is such an approach. Endocannabinoid signaling has been demonstrated to be involved in numerous processes, including brain development, memory formation, motor control, neuroinflammation, excitotoxicity and oxidative stress,” said the researchers in their report. “Our findings reinforce a cannabis-based medicine as a potential AD therapy.”

Unfortunately, the lack of available ways to research cannabis on medical patients due to its federally illegal status means that consumers must resort to becoming part of the experimentation on how cannabis can affect their health positively or negatively.

“There are just no venues to do it,” Jamie Roitman, associate professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “The experience is way outpacing the science.”