Mexican scientists are researching the potential of a molecule present in marijuana to reverse cognitive errors and memory loss caused by aging, the National Science and Technology Council (Conacyt) said on Monday.
Specialists are conducting tests on artificially aged mice to determine the efficacy of the beta-caryophyllene molecule in reversing memory errors and improving cognitive flexibility.
According to University of Guadalajara researcher Paulina Chavez, the experimental mice were separated into two groups and aged artificially by administering galactose to them.
One of the groups was then dosed with the molecule found in cannabis.
Then, in observing the mice, Chavez took note of their anthropometric characteristics, glucose tolerance, locomotive changes and other things and concluded that there was no difference between the two groups.
However, there were definitely differences when scientists evaluated the animals' memory.
The test implied that the rodents who received the pot molecule were able to better memorize the location of a platform hidden in a pool of water, which the scientists termed an aquatic labyrinth.
Now, the scientists are awaiting the second phase of the investigation, in which the same exercise will be performed on naturally-aged mice, but that will require a wait of 16 months so that the results can be properly compared with the data obtained recently.
Chavez said that, although the results obtained so far are encouraging, to determine definitively whether human memory can be improved in this way clinical trials will first have to be conducted.
"In the final analysis, aging and the changes at the cognitive level are associated with the accumulation of damage, and this damage is what the beta-caryophyllene could be able to prevent and reduce," she said.