Results of a new study conducted by the Salk Institute show that cannabis use may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Alzheimer’s is believed to be caused by the clumping of beta-amyloid proteins, which prevent neurons from communicating with each other in the brain.
The team conducted their research by modifying nerve cells so that they would create the beta-amyloid protein. The protein caused inflammation, which eventually lead to cell death. Endocannabinoids, which are produced naturally in the brain are believed to help communication between nerve cells.
The cannabinoid THC is similar to the endocannabinoids found in the brain, so the researchers postulated that they would have similar effects in aiding cell signalling. Antonio Currais, one of the authors of the study stated, “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.”
The team experimented by using THC on the cells with beta-amyloid damage. The results showed that inflammation caused by protein clumping disappeared from the damaged cells and cell death was averted.
Senior author Professor David Schubert said of the results, “Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective 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.”
Alzheimer’s is a serious health issue in the US and it continues to worsen. Cannabis treatment may end up being the most effective way to prevent and cure Alzheimer’s. There are already multiple conditions that cannabis has been shown to treat effectively, and with this latest study it looks like we may be able to add Alzheimer’s to the list. Hopefully as more studies on the efficacy of cannabis as legitimate medicine are conducted, opponents of cannabis legalization could be persuaded to reverse their stance on this amazing plant.
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