Neuroscientists suspect the main active ingredient in cannabis, called cannabidiol, could help prevent or reverse early stage brain damage and memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease, according to Australian newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald.
Tim Karl, a senior research fellow with Neuroscience Research Australia, said cannabidiol doesn’t have the same psychoactive effects as marijuana’s main component, THC (meaning it won’t get you high), but it does have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and possible brain protective effects.
“Back in the day cannabis was used for medical purposes,” he said. “I’m talking 200 years, 100 years back, then at some point people discovered it had other effects and, as quite often happens in our society, people decided it was a bad drug.
But (cannabis isn’t) one compound, it is a mixture of 60 different compounds, and you just have to look at those different compounds because some of them might be good for you.â€ť
Karl and PhD student David Cheng injected cannabidiol into mice bred to have Alzheimer’s-like symptoms. They found mice given the cannabidiol tested significantly better on cognitive tests related to recognizing objects or remembering other mice.
When treated with cannabidiol, the brain cells of (other) mice produced much less amyloid precursor protein,a brain protein whose buildup is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
The research,Â presentedÂ at theÂ AustralianÂ Neuroscience Society conference this week, is still in relatively early stages.