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Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute found tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s active ingredient, inhibits the formation of amyloid plaque, which is thought to be involved with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Surprisingly, marijuana’s active ingredient, THC, was found to work better at inhibiting amyloid plaque than several of the drugs approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

The study consisted of both computer modeling and biochemical examination. Researchers found that THC inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE). AChE helps accelerate the formation of amyloid plaque that is known to form in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Still in dispute is if amyloid plaque plays a significant role in memory and cognition. What is known is that amyloid plaque is always present in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. The strong inhibitory abilities of THC may help scientists improve the methods for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers stress that they are not advocating illicit use of marijuana, but their research establishes evidence that THC has remarkable qualities and is effective in inhibiting AChE–and in several cases more effective than drugs currently approved by the FDA.

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