Marijuana: The Alzheimer’s Fighter

Marijuana: The Alzheimer’s Fighter. Recent lab research has found that medical marijuana may be key to fighting marijuana. The cannabinoids in marijuana can help to prevent the buildup of certain proteins and plaques that cause the neurodegeneration we see in Alzheimer’s patients. Even more exciting is the suggestion that cannabinoids may actually help to clear these plaques, and may possibly increase brain function in Alzheimer’s patients! Here is what you need to know about this amazing and exciting discovery.

THC removes amyloid beta.

Amyloid beta is the protein which is found in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains. We don’t thoroughly understand the mechanism that causes Alzheimer’s, but we do know that amyloid beta is bad news for the brain. It is a toxic protein that accumulates in nerve cells, eventually causing them to become inflamed and thus destroying their ability to function and communicate. In lab trials, scientists have discovered that THC removes amyloid beta from nerve cells, which gives us hope that patients could experience healing and increased brain function (https://www.salk.edu/news-release/cannabinoids-remove-plaque-forming-alzheimers-proteins-from-brain-cells/). This discovery happened with isolated nerve cells in a lab, and the human trials have not yet happened to prove that this also happens when people smoke marijuana. Nevertheless, it is exciting and gives a lot of hope that future human trials will also show this sort of benefit.   marijuana alzheimers  

THC reduces inflammation in nerve cells.

Along with removing amyloid beta, marijuana alzheimers fighter, THC calms the inflammation that amyloid beta causes in nerve cells. The fact that THC is an anti-inflammatory agent is extremely important, not just for brain health but for overall health. There are many things that cause inflammation in the body and in the brain. If smoking marijuana can help to reduce inflammation, this explains why it has such positive results for overall health as well as brain health.

THC has the same neuroprotective benefits as exercise.

The brain has endocannabinoid receptors in it, which can be activated by THC. They can also be activated by the endocannabinoids that our bodies produce when we exercise. This is the mechanism that explains why exercise helps to prevent Alzheimer’s. While exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, there are many Alzheimer’s patients who are not able to exercise. This is a disease which primarily targets the elderly, who may be too frail to take part of the sort of strenuous exercises that cause our cells to release endocannabinoids. Marijuana can give patients the neuroprotective benefits of working out, even if they cannot physically do very much exercise.

THC clears one of the two kinds of lesions that causes Alzheimer’s, and may help alleviate both kinds of lesions.

While we still don’t know exactly how Alzheimer’s works, we believe that it is caused by two kinds of lesions: amyloid plaques (caused by beta amyloid) and neurofibrillary tangles.  By removing beta amyloid, THC can actually clear out amyloid plaques and prevent them from forming. Scientists don’t know yet what causes neurofibrillary tangles, but we suspect that they are caused by inflammation in the brain causing a buildup of defective tau proteins on the neurons. Since THC reduces inflammation, it may help prevent neurofibrillary tangles from forming as well.

Is THC a cure for Alzheimer’s?

We don’t yet have enough information to be able to claim that THC is a cure for Alzheimer’s. We know that it can help to treat a major cause of Alzheimer’s in a lab setting. The next step is to do clinical trials to see if it helps Alzheimer’s patients the way the lab results indicate that it should. It’s an incredibly exciting discovery for medical marijuana activists and for everyone affected by Alzheimer’s, and it is possible that this information might lead to a cure as we continue to explore the benefits of marijuana.

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