While more clinical research needs to be conducted, findings in preclinical studies on the potential benefits of cannabinoids for preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease are promising. Scientists have found in animal or cultural studies suggesting that cannabinoids may help inhibit the progression of the disease.
Alzheimer’s is thought to be associated with a buildup of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. This buildup interferes with cell-to-cell communication and proper nutrient transport, eventually leading the brain cell death.
The administration of cannabinoids, however, has shown to inhibit amyloid-beta plaques and tangles to in turn protect the health of brain cells. Specifically, studies have found tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) effectively reduces amyloid-beta levels, and cannabidiol (CBD) modulates microglial function to prevent the buildup of tangles.
Cannabinoids have also been shown in studies to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties, which in turn could help improve the survival rate of brain cells and encourage the birth of new ones. Cannabinoids have also shown to improve glucose uptake and enhance mitochondrial function to encourage brain cell health. In theory, these benefits could in turn potentially reverse cognitive deficits caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
Just weeks ago a study by German and Israeli researchers found evidence that cannabinoids effectively reverse age-related memory loss. The findings suggest that cannabinoids are beneficial for promoting brain health and potentially treating dementia disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
Evidence also suggests that cannabinoids can help those with Alzheimer’s disease better manage their symptoms. Cannabinoids have shown to effectively reduce nocturnal motor activity and agitation, as well as improve psychomotor agitation, aggression, and communication.
Plant-derived cannabinoids like CBD and THC are similar in makeup to the body’s naturally-synthesized cannabinoids, allowing them to interact with cannabinoid receptors found in the central nervous system. There’s some evidence that a deficiency or blockage of the body’s naturally produced cannabinoids, referred to as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency, could be associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In these cases, supplementing with plant-based cannabinoids may be beneficial for inhibiting or treating the disease.
More than 5 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, and the disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death. As no cure for the disease currently exists, more research into cannabinoids and their potential benefits for the disease is highly needed.
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