Alzheimer’s Disease Treated by Medical Marijuana

Alzheimer’s Disease Treated by Medical Marijuana

The benefits of medical marijuana continue to emerge bringing this once rejected plant onto an even higher plane. Recent research shows that compounds in the cannabis genus may be successful in treating Alzheimer’s disease on several fronts.

The many successful lab results of applying medical marijuana to Alzheimer cells could be a significant leap in preventing or managing this disease without the use of harsh, synthetic conventional drugs. No longer does marijuana have to hide in the shadows as support from the medical community and beyond are gaining more respect for this rising star in natural treatment.

THC May Calm Cell Stress

THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol which is the active psychotropic substance in marijuana that makes the user ‘high’ or euphoric. It turns out that there are natural receptors in the brain called endocannabinoids which link to THC and may be one of the pieces that fit together for various systemic healing.

A 2016 article in AG Scientific cites this connection,

“Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana, is similar to endocannabinoids in molecular structure and thus have similar effects in the brain.”

While studying the development of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers would add a protein called amyloid beta to cells to cause inflammation and log the reaction for any treatment clues. One research group was doing just this and the usual results emerged including development of chemicals that switched cells into self-destruct mode which inevitably leads to disease.

One acid released during this process is called arachidonic acid which shows to be one of the major contributors to cell stress leading to each cell’s demise. It also shows to be in the cannabinoid family so researchers decided to try the well known calming effects of THC on arachidonic acid.

The results, although still in the laboratory stage, were significant. Not only did the THC stop and reverse inflammation and cell death but it also reduced the amount of amyloid beta proteins which started the whole fiasco in the first place. With such a drastic response, the cells were then able to remain strong enough to move on and heal themselves. This is good news for further research on ways to use THC to prevent, slow or possibly reverse Alzheimer’s.

Cell Growth Memory Stimulation

Another possible benefit of medical marijuana for Alzheimer’s treatment is the presentation of potential cell growth. The more brain cells that are available, the more cognitive function could result specifically when it comes to memory loss, one of the most debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

In a study by researchers at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology Vittorio Erspamer, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, it was found that,

“Results showed that the blockade of PPARγ [an Alzheimer causing receptor] was able to significantly blunt CBD [cannabidiol, a compound derived from medical marijuana] effects on reactive gliosis and subsequently on neuronal damage. Moreover, due to its interaction at PPARγ, CBD was observed to stimulate hippocampal neurogenesis [brain cell function]. All these findings report the inescapable role of this receptor in mediating CBD actions, here reported.”

Cell growth in the hippocampus, the major brain location for memory, through the application of medical marijuana could be another leap in beating this growing disease.

Plaque Fighter

The buildup of plaque is often associated with blocked arteries which is one of the causes of cardiovascular disease. However, plaque can be found impeding other systemic functions including the brain which is theorized as a link to Alzheimer’s development. However, the plaque in the brain comes from the same amyloid proteins previously mentioned.

A 2008 study published in Molecular Pharmaceutics found that,

“Compared to currently approved drugs prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, THC is a considerably superior inhibitor of Aβ aggregation [plaque causing compounds], and this study provides a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which cannabinoid molecules may directly impact the progression of this debilitating disease.”

Another study published in the Journal for Alzheimer’s Disease (7/14), researchers continued the 2008 research reporting that,

“These sets of data strongly suggest that THC could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease through multiple functions and pathways.”

Progress of Alzheimer’s disease treated by medical marijuana continues, especially as more states legalize it giving private research the opportunity for study. The problem is that federally funded research remains at a standstill particularly due to the current governmental administration. Hopefully, the merits of this misunderstood, stigmatized drug will eventually come to light for the entire country as more citizens demand its availability.

Safety and Compliance Testing for Medical Marijuana

As we have discussed in other articles about the safety of medical marijuana, it is important that medical marijuana is tested for safety.  This includes testing for potentially harmful pesticides, heavy metals, and mold. Safety and compliance testing labs are springing up around the country to perform these tests. For example, it is now mandated that medical cannabis be tested by marijuana testing labs in Michigan.