In mice that had been genetically tweaked to develop symptoms like those of Alzheimer's, animals that received a synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol for six weeks performed as well as healthy mice on a memory test, scientists reported Tuesday at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego and reported on by NPR.
Meanwhile, mice given a placebo instead of THC lost the ability to remember where to find the shallow spot in a pool of water.
The treated mice also lost fewer brain cells and their brains contained 20 percent less of the sticky plaques associated with Alzheimer's, said researcher Yvonne Bouter of the University Medical Center Goettingen in Goettingen, Germany. Bouter presented the results, which haven't been published in a peer-reviewed journal, at a press conference.
The findings suggest that "cannabis could be beneficial for Alzheimer's disease," Bouter said.
But even if that's true, she said, it doesn't mean the growing number of healthy older people who smoke pot should celebrate by lighting up. "We did this same experiment in healthy mice," she said, "and they had problems learning."
Read the full story at NPR.