Cannabis Shows Great Potential To Prevent Alzheimer's
A team of researchers recently found new evidence that cannabinoids can reduce neuronal cells inflammation and lower the amount of a toxic protein generated in human brain by Alzheimer's disease. This pathological condition is the most common form of dementia and it worsens over time. It affects the brain causing memory loss, difficulties in speaking and understanding. Worldwide, 44 million people have Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia. Only 25 percent of people with this disease have been diagnosed, while this is a leading cause of death. Alzheimer’s patients are expected to triple over the next 50 years.
Other studies in the past 10 years offered evidence that THC and CBD can act as neuroprotectors against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions. This recent research focuses on THC and it is the first lab study to demonstrate that cannabinoids can reduce both inflammation and toxic components accumulation in human nerve cells.
THC COULD WIN THE BATTLE AGAINST BETA AMYLOID
Scientists from California-based Salk Institute for Biological Studies published in June 2016 a preliminary study named “Amyloid proteotoxicity initiates an inflammatory response blocked by cannabinoids”. Salk Institute’s research team is conducting these studies with laboratory-grown neurons. The results showed that THC removes the toxic protein beta amyloid, which forms on neuronal cells when attacked by Alzheimer’s disease.
Beta amyloid is one of the main components of the plaque that starts accumulating within aging brain cells, even before Alzheimer's disease symptoms can be recognized. Brain cells inflammation is a major cause of the severe damage brought by Alzheimer's disease to older people. High levels of beta amyloid are associated with cellular inflammation and neuron death. The plaques formed on brain cells with this toxic protein interfere with the normal communication between neurons, thus causing a constantly increasing dementia. All recent researches found the endocannabinoid system plays a role also in this form of neuronal response to natural or induced cell aging.
UNDERSTANDING CANNABINOIDS ACTION FOR NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS
The role of beta amyloid in Alzheimer’s disease is not completely clear. What is clear is that brain’s nerve receptors cells are also activated by cannabinoids, which can trigger, or inhibit, biochemical defensive responses. When trying to understand beta amyloid mechanisms, scientists from Salk Institute went further than previous researches as they modified human neuronal cells to stimulate the production of this protein. After that, they inoculated THC from cannabis into these sick cells in order to verify any eventual variation of beta amyloid levels. As a result, the values of this toxic protein were drastically reduced after the Tetrahidrocannabinol subministration, while the inflammatory cellular response caused by this protein almost disappeared. The Lab-cultivated human brain cells used in this experiment were then able to survive.
There are no traditional medicines being effective in inhibiting cell death associated with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s diseases. That’s also why during the last few years the endocannabinoid system has become a target for a new therapeutic approach to treat these conditions. This last research by Salk Institute is still at an early stage, though. Just like many studies regarding cannabis in medicine, the next difficult task will be verifying these encouraging lab results on real people in a clinical trial. Anyway, these results also encourage further studies on the neuroprotective actions of cannabinoids, and whatever will happen if and when they will access the clinical stage these new scientific results are now offering important clues for novel therapies against some of the worst kinds of brain diseases.
Written by: Guest Writer
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