Good news for aging hippies: smoking pot may stave off Alzheimer’s disease.
New research shows that the active ingredient in marijuana may prevent the formation of deposits in the brain associated with the degenerative disease.
Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California found that marijuana's active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can prevent an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase from accelerating the formation of "Alzheimer plaques" in the brain more effectively than commercially marketed drugs.
THC is also more effective at blocking clumps of protein that can inhibit memory and cognition in Alzheimer’s patients, the researchers reported in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.
The researchers said their discovery could lead to more effective drug treatment for Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of dementia among the elderly.
Those afflicted with Alzheimer’s suffer from memory loss, impaired decision-making, and diminished language and movement skills. The ultimate cause of the disease is unknown, though it is believed to be hereditary.
Marijuana is used to relieve glaucoma and can help reduce side effects from cancer and AIDS treatment.