Marijuana gives clues to memory loss

weed

Marijuana and memory loss. It’s like an old bad joke. Unfortunately, the truth of it is that the memory impairment caused by marijuana use prevents it from being a suitable choice for medicinal purposes on some kinds of neurological diseases. The drug’s ill effects on working memory, the ability to transiently hold and process information for reasoning, comprehension and learning cannot be risked for people who already suffer from cognitive disorders.

But could the memory impairment be averted? Maybe. It appears that marijuana’s major psychoactive ingredient, THC, has a unique way of hindering memory. It slinks in through the back door by missing neurons and instead acting on the astroglia, the passive support cells long believed to play a secondary role to active neurons.

These new findings offer important new insight into brain function and raise the possibility that marijuana’s benefits for the treatment of pain, seizures and other ailments might someday be attained without hurting memory.

So the astroglia may be more important than they’ve been given credit. They have long been viewed as cells that support, protect and feed neurons for the past 100 to 150 years. But in the last ten years, evidence shows that they play a more important role in forging the connections from one neuron to another.

Researchers discovered that mice which were lacking the receptors on astroglia cells which respond to THC managed to avoid memory loss after being administered the cannabinoid. There may be a way to therapeutically activate the receptors on neurons while leaving the astroglia cells out which means the benefit of THC could be realized while the side effects avoided. It also means a breakthrough for managing memory loss. If other cells could be adjusted in the same way, to avoid memory compromise, it could mean a new treatment for Alzheimer’s.

Source: ScienceDaily, Cell

 
disclaimer

The information provided on the PsyWeb.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of PsyWeb.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?
Yes
50%
No
50%
Total votes: 3979