The idea of using marijuana to treat Alzheimer’s is still not a popular one. However, because treatment options are limited, and marijuana is becoming widely recognized as a cure for numerous diseases and conditions, research over the years has led scientists to believe that cannabinoids could hold the answer to this issue.
THC Slows Buildup of Neural Plaques
The buildup of amyloid plaques, which is a toxic aggregation of peptides in the neural tissue, is one of the pathological markers characteristic of Alzheimer’s. A study, published in 2008 in Molecular Pharmaceutics found that THC could slow this process. This discovery was observed again and confirmed in a study conducted last year in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Cannabis Fights Inflammation
Inflammation of the brain plays a huge role in Alzheimer’s disease. Inflammatory activity of the brain’s immune cells is thought to contribute to the progressive loss of neurons that is characteristic of the disorder. A 2006 report analyzed the role of the human endocannabinoid system in Alzheimer’s, however; the connection has yet to be developed in human trials. The premise of this preliminary research alone is very encouraging.
CBD Could Prevent Cell Death
Marijuana’s non-psychoactive cannabidiol – CBD – has demonstrated its benefits in preventing cell death. As it turns out, CBD’s properties reduce neurotoxicity caused by amyloid buildup. The researchers concluded that “he great therapeutic value of CBD, either given alone or in association with THC, derives from the consideration that it represents a rare, if not unique, compound that is capable of affording neuroprotection by the combination of different types of properties.”
Cannabinoids Stimulate Cell Growth
Neurogenesis is the growth of new brain cells that occurs throughout adulthood. A disruption of this process is thought to be an early event in Alzheimer’s. Amazingly enough, in addition to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective attributes, it would appear that cannabinoids may also play a role in the growth of neural tissue in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain in charge of memory functions. This mechanism known as “neurogenesis” was explored and discussed in a 2011 study.
Cannabis Could Alleviate Other Alzheimer’s Symptoms
From appetite stimulation and weight control to improved motor functioning and reduction of agitation, cannabis could offer the improved quality of life to Alzheimer’s patients, thus allowing them to live more functional lives. This alone should be enough to send armies of scientists to research this amazing plant. Not only that, but it should also be a good enough reason to warrant a rescheduling of cannabis. Let us remind you that, although it’s legal in so many states, cannabis is still sharing a place with heroine in Schedule I category.
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