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Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol – better known as THC – is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis. THC binds to endocannabinoid system receptors, eliciting a wide range of physical effects and producing the “high” associated with its use. A new study suggests that THC reverses brain aging in old mice.

Researchers injected old mice with a microdose of THC that was roughly three to four orders of magnitude lower than a typical dose. Then, they assessed gene expression in the animals' hippocampal tissue at five days and five weeks post-treatment.

After just five days, they found that the microdose THC treatment altered the expression of 18 genes related to neurogenesis (the production of new nerve cells). THC altered the expression of 88 genes related to nerve cell survival and development five weeks post-treatment. Interestingly, THC did not affect brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein noted for its effects on neurogenesis.

These findings suggest that a single microdose of THC exerts potent, enduring effects on the rodent brain and may have potential applications in humans. It also aligns with results from a compelling case study in which THC microdosing ameliorated symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Lactate, a molecule produced during vigorous exercise, also has robust effects on the brain, influencing neurogenesis and promoting cognitive function. Learn more in this episode featuring Dr. George Brooks.

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