THC Can Boost Learning And Memory
Memory is one of those things that becomes increasingly important to us as we age. People are so fond of telling us that it is “the first thing to go” that there is more than a little quiet worry attached to having trouble remembering things as we age. The popularity of certain herbal supplements speaks to the fact that we all want to keep our memory and the rest of our mind in good health. Nothing seems able to truly give us anything back yet, but that doesn’t stop people from being hopeful. It also doesn’t stop people from looking for something that can help us keep our minds that much healthier. That brings us to a recent study where scientists studied the effects of THC, the notorious chemical at the heart of cannabis, to see what effect it might have on memory. It turns out that the compound might be good for maintaining healthy cognition when administered in the right amounts.
A Point of Clarification
We do need to pause and highlight here, because some people may be uncomfortable, that THC is not automatically a horrible thing. Years of discrediting the research and creating a scare around the compound and the plant that carries it have made it difficult to properly research. It is not automatically euphoric or hallucinogenic. The compound requires a specific level of THC just to generate euphoria and the study being discussed avoided ever reaching those levels to determine the effect of lower doses. THC, much as the drink absinthe, has been unfairly accused of being unsafe. In absinthe’s case, the fear of THC way such that a somewhat similar seeming compound in the drink was credited as being hallucinogenic despite no clear evidence. People regularly enjoy drinking it the world over even today though without any such effects. With this in mind, try to remember that THC is not automatically going to harm the mind of anyone given it.
Interestingly enough, it turns out that THC appears to have a positive effect on the cognitive health of mice. The compound was administered in low doses to older mice over an extended period of time. At the start of the treatment, many of the mice were exhibiting the level of cognitive decline associated with their age, but by the time the treatment ended it had reverted many of the cognitive abilities of many of the mice back to a younger state. In fact, many of the treated mice performed as well as two-month-old counterparts. A detailed examination of the mice revealed that their brain had repaired themselves to a degree, created more connections between cells, and overall made their brains seem to look and act younger. In effect, it restored their abilities to learn and remember things. Mice are a standard model in medicine to determine potential reactions by humans to a drug. This means that THC seems to show that low-level treatments of THC may, over time, be useful to help reverse human cognitive decline.
While published in a prestigious journal, the study likely needs further replication before things can be properly confirmed. It is currently well-regarded enough that the researchers intended to move on to human trials though. We wish to stress that the study is an interesting bit of information, but many promising treatments have been stopped by the jump from animal model to humans. This is because, despite careful selection of animal models, the model isn’t perfect. The research team has expressed confidence in the potential viability of this treatment though and believe it may be one of the ones that can make the jump without incident. Once human trials begin, it will need to be tested and replicated to ensure results before we will likely ever hear of this research again. The potential promise does leave open an interesting window into future treatment of dementia and other issues resulting from cognitive decline.
The fear of losing our memory is, in many ways, deeply tied to a sense of losing ourselves. We are our memories. They inform how we react, who we know, and what we do. Trying to think of lacking them is to contemplate not existing. That makes any study offering a potential solution to cognitive decline a welcome one. While there is no telling the future of this study, we can all collectively hope for the best.