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Can over-the-counter painkillers help with marijuana memory problems?

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While marijuana is often used to treat a variety of medical conditions, the cognitive side effects can pose challenges for users.

A new study published by Cell Press reveals what molecular pathways are responsible for marijuana-induced memory and learning problems. And the findings suggest that a simple, over-the-counter painkiller could prevent these types of side effects associated with cannabis use.

"Our studies have solved the longtime mystery of how marijuana causes neuronal and memory impairments," said senior study author Chu Chen of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. "The results suggest that the use of medical marijuana could be broadened if patients concurrently take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen."

Role of THC

THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana, appears to increase levels of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in the hippocampus of rodent brains, which can cause memory and neurological abnormalities. COX-2 is inhibited by over-the-counter painkillers, like ibuprofen, the researchers said, which indicates that it may be a viable way to prevent memory-related side effects in marijuana users.

A treatment for Alzheimer's disease?

The study also found that THC treatment can reduce neruonal damage in mice that show similar symptoms to Alzhemier's disease. The beneficial effects were still seen when the animals were simultaneously treated with a COX-2 inhibitor, a press release on the study stated.

"There are no effective medications currently available for preventing and treating Alzheimer's disease or halting disease progression," Chen said." 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 along with ?9-THC for the treatment of intractable medical conditions such as Alzheimer's disease."

Source: EurekAlert!