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Alzheimer’s affects one in eight people over 65, and there have been few successes at treating or preventing it. This study suggests that exciting the brain’s cannabinoid receptors may slow brain degradation and dementia.  

Findings: The activation of the brain’s cannabinoid system may trigger the release of anti-oxidants

Study: The endocannabinoid system in normal and pathological brain ageing (2012)

Location: The Institute of Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Bonn, Germany

The latest review, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, suggests that activating the brain’s cannabinoid system may trigger a sort of anti-oxidant cleanse by removing damaged cells and improving the efficiency of the mitochondria, which ultimately leads to a more highly functioning brain.

Researchers found that the brain’s cannabinoid system is fully capable of not only cleansing damaged brain cells from the brain, but also triggering the production of new brain cells within the brain. Cannabinoids also supercharge mitochondria in the brain, also known as the energy powerhouses that maintain proper cell function.

These discoveries shed new insight on how natural marijuana cannabinoids hold the capacity to literally stop the brain inflammation responsible for causing cognitive decline, neural failure, and brain degeneration. By supplying receptor sites with cannabinoids, patients may be able to overcome brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and many other conditions, including premature brain aging and dementia.

This finding suggests that at some point during aging, cannabinoid activity helps maintain normal cognitive functions in mice. However, the review doesn’t support the idea of using marijuana to improve brain aging among the elderly, primarily due to its psychoactive effects.

Perhaps most the most significant finding of this study is on behalf of Gary Wenk, professor of neuroscience, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University. Mr. Wenk has been trying to find a drug that will reduce brain inflammation and restore cognitive function in rats for over 25 years. He said cannabinoids are the first and only class of drugs that have ever been effective.

So do these studies determine that cannabinoids can prevent, and possibly even reverse brain ageing? As with many studies in the field, the definitive answer at this time can only be: Maybe. Far more studies need to be carried out in order to prove the efficacy of the drug. This will allow the promising expectations between cannabinoids and dementia to move toward incontrovertible evidence.

The one thing that researchers do seem to agree upon is that the psychoactive effects could pose a problem for the ageing brain. Perhaps it would be best to stick with cannabis high in cannabidiol (CBD), marijuana’s primary non-psychoactive cannabinoid, and low in  As one study has suggested, one puff a day can keep the doctors at bay.


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