The idea of using marijuana to treat Alzheimer’s disease is not widely recognized yet. Although treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease are currently limited, research in recent years has led scientists to believe that cannabis, or components of the plant known as cannabinoids, could be the answer.
This month, two scientists published a review on Frontiers of Pharmacology highlighting the potential benefits of cannabis-based treatments and conduct clinical research calling
- Fight inflammation:
Brain inflammation plays an important role in Alzheimer’s disease. Inflammatory activity of immune cells of the brain is thought to contribute to progressive loss of neurons underlying disorder.
As a result, the compounds of marijuana act on targets found in immune cells called CB2 receptors. Several studies have found that activation of CB2 receptors can reduce neuro-inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease models.
In addition to the CB2 receptor, THC also acts on the CB1 receptors. The CB1 activity may also interfere with the inflammatory process, according to a study of 2012 published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Protects against Alzheimer plate:
The accumulation of beta-amyloid (Aß) plaques in the brain is a primary characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. These plates are very visible in brain scans of patients and are believed to play a role in neuronal loss.
Studies have shown that certain cannabinoids may protect neurons against Aß plaque and its effects. For example, researchers have found that THC can prevent memory deficits in rats injected with Aß.
Cannabinoids may also be effective in preventing plaque formation, according to a 2006 study published in Molecular Pharmaceutics. The study concluded: “Compared to the currently approved drugs prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, is an inhibitor THC considerably higher Aß aggregation.”
- It can be taken without causing “high”.
The main concerns of health professionals on the use of cannabis-based treatments are related to the ‘high’ or ‘high’ caused by certain cannabinoids, especially THC. While it is true that the effect of THC in the brain may affect memory and attention, this is not a major barrier in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease as some might think.
In fact, studies to date suggest that the therapeutic effects of psychoactive cannabinoids, including THC, can be achieved at sufficiently low doses to avoid “placing”.
What is more, cannabis contains a number of other potentially useful compounds are no psychoactive. For example, a study published in 2014 found that the cannabinoid Psychopharmacology non-psychoactive CBD may be effective in reversing memory deficits in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Promotes the growth of brain cells.
Neurogenesis is the growth of new brain cells that occur during adulthood. An interruption of this process is believed to be an early event in Alzheimer’s disease that prevents the regeneration of neurons once cell loss begins gradually.
Various cannabinoids, including CBD, has been shown to promote neurogenesis in response to the interruption caused by plaque Aß.
In addition, a 2004 study found that cannabinoids could increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This protein is known to play a key role in promoting neurogenesis and brain plasticity.
- Imitate current treatments.
Most drugs used to treat Alzheimer by preventing the breakdown of a signaling molecule called acetylcholine. Interestingly, in addition to its unique benefits, studies show that cannabinoids can affect acetylcholine in the same way as current medications.
It has been found that THC inhibits AChE, the enzyme responsible for breaking down acetylcholine and Aß plaque buildup associated with the activity of AChE. AChE inhibitors are commonly prescribed to treat symptoms of dementia.