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Is Daily Cannabis Use Actually Good for Your Brain Health?

Picture of Nadia Elysse
US Editorial Team Lead
Updated: 15 May 2017
News that marijuana improves cognitive function would likely be met with cheers from many young people, but not so fast. New research published in the journal Nature Medicine may lend some credence to the idea that daily cannabis use actually aids and repairs cognitive ability — but only in old age.

For the study, German researchers gave both young and elderly mice small daily doses of cannabis oil. For the young mice, researchers saw a slowing of cognitive function. In older mice, though, researchers observed quite the opposite. Older mice performed substantially better when given a task after being served a low dose of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This finding, researchers say, can be helpful in treating people who experience cognitive decline in old age.

“The idea is that as animals grow old, similar to in humans, the activity of the endogenous cannabinoid system goes down—and that coincides with signs of aging in the brain,” lead researcher Andreas Zimmer told Scientific American. “So we thought, what if we stimulate the system by supplying [externally produced] cannabinoids?”

And it seemed to work out pretty great. Whether this low doses of cannabis oil would work to slow, or even reverse, cognitive decline in humans is yet to be seen. But the researchers are optimistic.

“Together, these results reveal a profound, long-lasting improvement of cognitive performance resulting from a low dose of THC treatment in mature and old animals,” the researchers said.