Cannabis
Cannabis holds key to Alzheimer's treatment, scientists say (Reuters)

Cannabis has been used for medical purposes for centuries for treating a wealth of conditions from chronic pain to epilepsy.

Its use in modern medicine has been stunted because of side effects, however, with the Food and Drugs Administration unwilling to approve of its use.

Researchers with Louisiana State University have found a way to reduce the side effect of memory loss associated with cannabis use and said it could be adapted as a treatment for Alzheimer's.

Scientists found that memory loss from medical marijuana could be prevented with over-the-counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen.

In findings published in the journal Cell, senior author Chu Chen said: "Our studies have solved the long-time mystery of how marijuana causes neuronal and memory impairments. The results suggest that the use of medical marijuana could be broadened if patients concurrently take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as Ibuprofen."

The active ingredient in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and some drugs based on this compound have been approved for medical use to treat nausea, vomiting and chemotherapy patients.

THC
THC destroys cancer cells and helps treat chronic pain sufferers (Reuters)

Previous research has shown that cannabis has a potent anti-cancer agent that destroys cancer cells.

Scientists have also found that medical cannabis helps to dramatically reduce chronic pain, and reduce tremors and improve mood and communication skills in Alzheimer's sufferers.

Chen and his team found that THC treatment caused an increase in the levels of an enzyme in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in memory and learning.

Testing on mice, researchers were able to reduce levels of this enzyme using drugs to stop memory problems and brain abnormalities that normally occur from repeat THC exposure.

Chen said: "There are no effective medications currently available for preventing and treating Alzheimer's disease or halting disease progression.

"Our results suggest that the unwanted side effects of cannabis could be eliminated or reduced, while retaining its beneficial effects, by administering a COX-2 inhibitor [painkiller] along with THC for the treatment of intractable medical conditions such as Alzheimer's disease."