Could THC be the Answer to Prevent Alzheimer’s?
Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
Nationwide, “Brain Awareness Week 2017”, was officially recognized March 13-19, with an unspoken caveat that any week provides the opportunity for you to think about, celebrate, and be cognizant of your brain and the health of your gray matter.
Common sense dictates, as your body and brain ages, numerous factors influence overall health, such as proper hydration, blood flow, oxygen, nutrition, and damage due to internal or external trauma.
However, internal factors are of heightened importance, because they can silently lead to progressive brain disorders, specifically, Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than five million people every day, and is a leading cause of death, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia and the number of people affected by this fatal disease is expected to triple over the next 50 years.
Since Alzheimer’s disease renders its victims unable to execute simple, everyday activities – and in the spirit of Brain Awareness Week – you should find it exciting to learn that ongoing laboratory investigations continue to research the effects of the component Tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), on amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles, or growing lesions in the brain, which are believed to be the common denominator in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
So far, THC has been found to remove this build-up of amyloid beta protein in the brain, which offers evidence that cannabinoids might be neuro-protective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
“We believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” said David Schubert from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California.
Did you know that you have cannabinoid receptors on cells throughout your entire body? David and his team used lab-grown, human neurons with the
properties of Alzheimer’s disease, and they observed the effects of THC.
This is what they found: “The compound (THC) works by passing from the lungs to the bloodstream, where it attaches to two types of receptors, (CB 1 & 2), which are found on cell surfaces all over the body.”
“In the brain, these receptors are most concentrated in neurons associated with pleasure, memory, thinking, coordination and time perception; and they usually bind with a class of lipid molecules called endocannabinoids that are produced by the body during physical activity to promote cell-to-cell signaling in the brain.”
This combination and cell communication is what can cause you to forget things, while feeling really good, and having an increased appetite!
These findings corroborate the results of the protective effects of cannabinoids, including THC, on patients with neurodegenerative disease.
If THC and other cannabinoids can ease brain inflammation and assist the body in breaking up these lesions, medical marijuana and its components could be the first effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease!
Eleven years ago, researchers at Scripps Research Institute found THC inhibits “the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that produces them,͟ and now Schubert and his colleagues have determined THC can also eliminate a dangerous inflammatory response from the nerve cells, ensuring their survival.”
“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” says Salk scientist, Antonio Currais.
“When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves, may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”
These findings are extremely exciting, but studies are still in the preliminary stages, and findings have only been “demonstrated in neurons in the lab.” Schubert and his team are now working on clinical trials to observe the links between THC, reduced inflammation and plaque build-up in the brain, and have
allegedly found a “drug candidate” that may have the same effects as THC, which will allow them to test the effects without government interference.
You can find the results of David Schubert’s Salk Institute studies published in Aging and Mechanisms of Disease. In the meantime, stop, think, and celebrate brain power!
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